Camp for Life

Michael Eisner, past CEO of Disney has done a lot, and he credits camp with providing an initial inspiration for much of it.

Some years ago, Michael Eisner, past CEO of Disney, was asked during a talk, “Of all the educational institutions you went to when you were younger, which one had the greatest influence on the work you do now?”

Across my mind flashed the names of a public-school system,” he later recalled, as did “a New England private school and two universities. And in a split second I blurted out: ‘the children’s camp I went to when I was six years old.’”

The remark was met with titters from the audience, though Eisner is clear that his answer, nevertheless, was entirely sincere. He’s done a lot, and he credits camp with providing an initial inspiration for much of it.

The non-camp world is a competitive world, and you are judged on scores and intellectual ability,” says Eisner. “At camp ... if you can’t swim well, you can play tennis; if you don’t play tennis well, you can be involved in nature activities; if you are not good with looking at butterflies, then you can hike. At camp you are accepted for who you are. Not only accepted but honored.”

When we think of camp, we naturally think of activities: canoeing, drama, arts and crafts, sailing, with day camps broadening the activity spectrum to things like art appreciation, robotics and beyond. Yet, despite a broad range of activities, all camps have a knack of offering the same thing they offered Eisner: time. Time to be who you are, and to become the person you want to be; time to think about new things, to be immersed in old interests, or to consider new ideas. It’s time spent together, with people—peers and mentors and friends—and a chance to think constructively about their place among them.

About the author: Glen Herbert is a long-time camper, writer, and father of three children who all go to camp. He’s also an editor and writer with – The Trusted source to camps and private schools.

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