Summer Camp

Courtesy of Emily Wilson/Beam Center

Deep in the woods of Strafford, New Hampshire, kids are playing with power tools. They’re climbing on jagged structures, and learning to weld from adults dotted with fresh tattoos.

Don’t sweat it: it’s just another summer at Beam Camp, a makerspace for youth in the outdoors .

(Editor’s note: we recommend listening to this story)

You ever come across something in the woods that doesn’t quite make sense? Like a rusting-out old Buick or something?

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

Ever walk past a private driveway with no end in sight and wonder... what's down there? Or glimpse a building through some trees and wish you could get up close?

Well, one listener wrote in about a place that she'd never seen... only heard of in passing. A place tucked into the trees in the Great North Woods. A New Hampshire institution. And chances are, you've never seen it either. 

Paul Hutchinson is a Boston University lecturer and co-curator of an exhibit on New Hampshire’s summer camp history.  It's on view at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth until September 13. I went to the museum to see the exhibition and to talk to Paul about the long history our state has as a summer camp getaway. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spofford_Lake,_Chesterfield,_NH.jpg#/media/File:Spofford_Lake,_Chesterfield,_NH.jpg

Kelly’s dad grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She remembers her father, George, telling stories of growing up in "Irish Harlem", a pretty rough neighborhood squeezed between Spanish Harlem, Black Harlem and Columbia University. George was a straight-up "city kid", but each summer from about the age of 6 or 7, until he was a tween, George escaped to New Hampshire, and a Catholic boy’s camp called Camp Notre Dame on Spofford Lake.   

Summer Camps, Only in NH, & Civics 101

Aug 4, 2017
Photograph courtesy of Camp Pasquaney

New Hampshire is the mainspring for America’s summer camp story. The birthplace of a tradition that has shaped the lives of not only local kids, but kids we'd now call "at risk". Kids who'd never been out of their city or even neighborhood. And a number of celebrities spent their summers tucked away at Squam, Spofford, or Winnipesaukee lakes. People, like Paul Fireman, the founder of Reebok. James Frey, the once disgraced then quasi-redeemed author of A Million Little Pieces. Actors and siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Fight Club's Edward Norton; The Breakfast Club's Judd Nelson. Generations of adults forged in the shared experience of camp, the bunk-beds, the letters home, the bug bites and the bad food.

Today on Word of Mouth, we go back to camp. Plus we’ll answer one of your questions from the Only in New Hampshire mail bag, and we’ll go to civics class to learn more about The Speaker of the House. 

Jónatas Luzia via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qhVCvY

On today's show: 

steve lodefink via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/2EkUtq

We are of course smack in the middle of summer, a great time to get out and play lawn games like croquet, cornhole, or bocce – games that have survived in some cases for thousands of years. Today we dig in to those games, along with some alternatives that are on the rise. Then, technology has altered the way we experience the present and past – so we ask, are iPhones really ruining summer camp? And, according to a recent analysis, pop music is getting stupider. But, does music have to be smart to be good? 

Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/7N6MpX

Social media has killed nostalgia, and iPhones are ruining summer camp. On today's show, we explore how social media has replaced that shoe box in the closet that keeps the past hidden and contained. Then, machines take over for humans and slog through the dirty work, leaving people free to do whatever they choose in a world without work. We talk about what a post-job society might look like, and how we might prepare for it. But meanwhile, the number of older Americans working is on the rise. 

Summer Camp: An Antidote To 'Helicopter Parenting?'

May 26, 2015
Camp Emerson / Flickr/CC

We talk with author Michael Thompson, who argues in his new book that kids need summer camp more than ever.  With today’s over-scheduled and over-protected children, Thompson says summer camp remains one of the few places where kids have to rough it, stretch their boundaries, and conquer the challenges of the great-outdoors.

L. via Flickr Creative Commons

Happy campers produce more than beaded wallets and macramé planters. They also generate millions in revenue, payroll and taxes.

At last count there were 289 youth summer camps in New Hampshire, contributing $317 million to the state’s economy and supporting 4,400 jobs with $128 million in total payroll, according to a 2011 report issued by the American Camps Association of New England.