Act 2/Retirement


Reliving the camp experience

Noel Rubinton

July 8, 2006

The summer camp season is in full swing, making a perfect backdrop for our cover story today.

Kids' sojourns at sleep-away camps in the country have long had a special place in the culture of Long Island and New York City. Memories of those idylls - the campfires, color wars, bunk life, canteens, and even the dining halls - often last for a lifetime.

My summer camp experience was limited, but my wife's more than makes up for it. She counts her years at an art and music camp in Pennsylvania among the most important experiences of her life; so much in her career as an artist and teacher has been shaped by camp and her fellow campers. She's enjoyed many formal and informal reunions with her camp friends in the years since.

These days such summer camp reunions have become a staple for those in the Act Two generation, eager to relive early days of social, athletic and artistic connections. The reunions inspire a spirit that most closely resembles, well, summer camp.

Cara Trager, who regularly contributes to our section with her Habitats column and other articles, presents this story well. The inspiration for it came as she watched her sister spend countless but joyful hours planning a reunion last year for Camp Chic-A-Lac, an upstate New York sleep-away camp.

Trager went to the camp for only a year (compared to her sister's seven), so she didn't go to the first reunion. This year, when there was another get-together, Trager went to see what the fuss was about.

"There was no pretense," Trager said of the scene. She was surprised by "the incredible level of connectedness that people had with each other," and even more by "how they are keeping the momentum going" after the reunion. She says long-lost friends are now working hard to stay in touch despite all the distractions of busy adult lives.

Along the way in her reporting, Trager talked to dozens of former campers and even one who's written a book about the lasting lure of camp - former Disney head Michael Eisner, who spent summers at Camp Keewaydin in Vermont.

There may be lots of time ahead for camp reunions, but it's last call for our first-ever photo contest. We've had a great response so far. If you still want to enter, you need to send your photo by e-mail or via regular mail postmarked by Monday. We're planning to publish the winners in August.

LET US HEAR FROM YOU. We welcome comments, suggestions and letters for possible publication. E-mail retire@newsday,com or write Act Two Editor, Business Desk, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4250. Include name, address, day and night telephone numbers.

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