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Over the years, as a camper and a counselor, Disney CEO Michael Eisner absorbed the life lessons that come from sitting in the stern of a canoe or meeting around a campfire at night. With anecdotes from his time spent at Keewaydin and stories from his life in the upper echelons of American business that illustrate the camp's continued influence, Eisner creates a touching and insightful portrait of his own coming-of-age, as well as a resounding declaration of summer camp as an invaluable national institution.
life was treating me well. I picked her up at her Middlebury dorm. We went to a late dinner. I talked endlessly about camp and canoeing, trips and hikes, and life in the woods. I think I bored her to death, but we did drive to Blueberry Hill (yes, there was such a place). Finally, I put my arm around her shoulder. And then it happened. I received a tearful six-hour confessional about her parents in Denmark, their divorce, her grandparents, her brother, her boyfriend, a little more about her
Back home in California, another letter soon followed. “Dear Mom and Dad, Camp is ok but I am only staying one month [he was scheduled for two] and I am not going on any trips.” To me, the optimist, maybe things were sounding better, but Jane still felt we had sent him to Siberia. Then: Dear Mom and Dad, I am having a pretty good time, not a great time. I am getting home sick [sic] a lot. It is boring at most parts. I want to go home at midseason. Please send candy. Someone took all of my
smells old and musty, but in a real, active, used way. This is the old man’s space. I greet him warmly, and pepper him with questions. How did he get that name? Who names someone Waboos? It’s a story that’s rooted in the very history of American summer camping. In 1923, an eight-year-old boy named Alfred Hare had come for his first summer at camp, a year before my father’s arrival. A business partner of Alfred’s father had sent his kids to camp, and it seems that the Hares decided their son
call you Waboos. It means ‘white rabbit’ in Algonquin. Waboos is your new name here.” The camp looks pretty much the same today—the same large trees, the same air to breathe, that same lake smell—all the same as the start of summer in 1949, when my father took me there, and even in 1924, when my father originally came to Keewaydin. He was sent because of an untimely death—his mother’s. The cause of death was appendicitis, though the captain of a ship sailing from Cuba to Florida originally
invasion of Europe. For once in my life, I looked forward to bedtime. I remember the excitement I felt hearing that story, so precise in its conveyance of aircraft, soldier, and battle images. I thought of my friend John Angelo’s father, who had been killed in World War II. And I also thought of Jacques Eisner, my father’s brother, who had died on November 13, 1942, in the Battle of Guadalcanal. I really only knew Jacques (pronounced “Jack”) through Keewaydin. In the camp offices, right along