Summer Camp in NH | Lessons Learned Away From HomeJune 3, 2014
Lessons Learned Away From Home
When my father was a Kenwood counselor in 1968 he brought with him up to Camp a state-of-the-art KLH turntable with a vacuum tube amplifier. Next to his bed was a crate of the great albums of the day: Sgt. Pepper’s, Days of Future Past, Pet Sounds, The Sound of Silence. At night he would turn down the lights and share his favorite music with the 9-year olds he lived with.
Some 30 odd years later some of his former campers shared this story with me at an alumni reunion. With great fondness one of them told the tale of how these music nights had opened up a new world of possibilities for him. Coming from a rough part of an inner city it was the first time he had ever heard artists like Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles. According to him, his summers at Kenwood and Evergreen, and his nights listening to these incredible musicians, helped him understand the importance of creativity and art. They also taught him the importance of exploring the world outside his own. One of Kenwood’s first-ever campers of color, this young man grew up, went to college, and became a respected pharmacist.
I can remember being a K&E camper and sharing my music with my bunkmates on a massive 8-D cell boom box that was about twice my size. Over the course of that summer we learned how to take turns playing our different tape cassettes. During my years as a camper my bunkmates introduced me to Bob Marley, The Ramones, Sinatra, Steve Miller Band, Phish, De La Soul and Neil Young. It opened me up to a whole other world of possibilities, just like it had for my dad’s campers. Decades later, this Kenwood and Evergreen tradition continues.
Walking around our campus, during free time or as bunks prepare for bed, I hear different music coming out of cabin after cabin, lodge after lodge. Our campers and staff connect with each other by sharing the classic rock, dance music, jazz, show tunes, country, hip hop, and pop music that they love. Dance parties, air guitar demonstrations, and lip sync contests abound. It’s just one way that our campers benefit greatly from being away from home each summer.
Today I read an editorial in the New York Times that reminded me of how important sharing different artistic tastes can be for human development, and how much it is a part of the Kenwood and Evergreen experience.
Living with people from other neighborhoods, states and countries is life changing. It teaches you to share, how to compromise, and how to be more resilient. Without being nagged you somehow become more responsible for your stuff, you learn to make your own bed, and you even start to hang up your towel after swim (or it’s wet and disgusting the next time you need to use it). It helps you get over the fear of being away from your parents at a young age, which allows you to experience more of life on your terms.
Like my father, my life has been enriched by the many years that I lived with campers and counselors from around the United States and beyond. Becoming a Kenwood camper at the age of 8 has become a defining aspect of who I am. It also introduced me to some of my favorite songs and bands. My first summer my counselor got me hooked on the music of the Grateful Dead. He also taught me to play guitar. His name was Scott Brody, and he went on to own Camps Kenwood & Evergreen. Together, we are part of the leadership team of this intentional community.
So I have to ask those of you who grew up at our summer camp in NH, or at another: what music, bands, or songs did you learn about during your time at overnight camp? In what way did living with other people at a young age change who you are? What songs do you hear now and find yourself immediately transported to your time as a camper or counselor? What would you have never grown to have loved or appreciated without taking the risk and going to sleep away camp? Please feel free to post and share!