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Denebola » Article » Camp for Newtonites…is it different?
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Camp for Newtonites…is it different?

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Moire Corcoran

Three years ago, I arrived in Newton fresh off the plane and ready to mingle with teenagers who surely haunted a few well chosen spots during the summer. To my surprise, teenagers were nowhere to be seen. In fact, there were few kids anywhere in Newton. It wasn’t until my first few weeks at Newton South that I found out that most people leave during summer vacation. I realized that some kids travel to foreign countries or visit their families, but I couldn’t figure out where they spent the rest of their summers.

A few classes into my second day and many icebreakers later, I finally cracked this perplexing puzzle. It is the fabled overnight summer camps that draw so many kids out of Newton. The whole idea of summer camp is still rather new to me. I have never known another place where so many kids attend camps. When I asked a few people about this strange phenomenon, I was greeted with one overwhelming response: If you don’t go to camp over the summer, what else do you do?

What caught my attention was not the content of the answer but the context of the response. It is widely accepted in the culture of Newton that most kids will fly the coup and attend summer camp.

Newton is truly an affluent city. According to the Demographic and Socioeconomic Profile of the City of Newton, the median family income is over $40,000 more than the median family income for all Massachusetts residents. The general abundance of working mothers adds to the need for childcare during the summer months.

There’s also an undercurrent of escape tied to leaving for summer camp. Newton’s proximity to Boston provides many opportunities, but it also defines Newton as an urban suburb. Summer camps provide a needed escape from the congested streets and manicured lawns of our city.

Camp also exposes people to different opinions, people, and cultures that aren’t expressed in our community, not to mention that camp provides “enriching” experiences perfect for college admissions essays.

I attended Camp Waldsee, run by Concordia Language Villages, the summer between my sophomore and junior years. Despite all the peculiarities of my camp, my general experience was typical. My cabin-mates were a little awkward at first, but we eventually warmed up to each other. By the end of my session, I could not believe that I was leaving my friends, who felt more like my family than anything else.

It’s easy to criticize camps if you’ve never attended one. Often people disregard the merits of camp and write it off as an ostentatious display of wealth and privilege. On some level, camp can be a display of affluence, but to dismiss it altogether would be overlooking the wealth of good that camp does bring.

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