Skip to main content


June 2024
1min read

Two Chances to Go Back to Summer Camp

For thousands upon thousands of American children, summer has long begun with the sewing on of nametags and the boarding of the train—now superseded by the bus—to camp. Deep in the mountains that once were home to some 270 summer camps, and still support 70, the magnificent Adirondack Museum has just opened a show called A Paradise for Boys and Girls: Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks . Among the displays are that mess-hall staple, the mural. The group effort shown below, whose flat, sharply delineated swimmers anticipate the work of the painter Alex Katz, brightened up Camp Severance for Girls on Paradox Lake from 1949 until the camp closed in 1972. “A Paradise for Boys and Girls” is on view until October 13 and will reopen next year; a Web-based exhibit on children’s camps accompanies it: .

Over in the White Mountains, meanwhile, the advertising executive Laurie S. Kahn so loved Camp Kear-Sarge—“I will always be a sleepaway camper at heart”—that she has written a book charting the course of all-girl camps since the first one opened in Maine in 1902. Sleepaway: The Girls of Summer and the Camps They Loved (Workman Press, 265 pages, $15.95) offers fellow loyalists scores of photographs along with instruction in the arts of braiding lanyards, folding knife-edge hospital corners, and making that dire potion universally known as bug juice. At bottom, a girl from Camp Aloha, near Buffalo, New York, takes a respite from the buddy system, sing-alongs, and poison oak.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.