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Summer Camps: The White Mountains Roots of an Iconic American Experience

About this exhibition

Museum Exhibition Dates: May 3 – September 13, 2017

Exhibition Locations: Museum of the White Mountains, Main Gallery

Opening Reception: May 13, 2017, 4-6pm

Curatorial Team: Paul Hutchinson, Marcia Schmidt Blaine, and Cynthia Robinson

Online Exhibition: Click here

Exhibition Catalog: Read here (pdf)

Camp Stories: Entire Camp Stories Oral History Collection

Caddy Camp

Camp Hale

Camp Mowglis

Camp Onaway

Camp Pasquaney

Ogontz White Mountain Camp

The Groton School Camp and Mayhew Program

MWM Summer Camps Wiki: Click here

Have your own camp story?: Submit it here!

Our Summer Camps exhibition traces the sparks cast by the Transcendentalists and the early White Mountain tourists. They were the kindling for the first American summer camps that caught fire along the shores of Squam Lake and became the popular camps of the Progressive Era. These led to the torches carried forth by generations of campers from then to now.

In addition to images, artifacts, and narratives of the history of summer camp, the exhibit includes a participatory digital experience titled Camp Stories, inspired by the popular oral history project Story Corps. The tales collected through Camp Stories will not only be part of the exhibit, but will also be a lasting legacy for students and researchers into the future. Visit the Plymouth State YouTube page Here to watch and listen to our “Camp Stories” Oral History Collection.

New Hampshire Camps who provided assistance and/ or are featured in this exhibition include: YMCA Camp Belknap, Camp Berea, YMCA Camp Coniston, Camp Deerwood, Camp Hale – United South End Settlements, The Horton Center, Kingswood Camp, The Mayhew Program (formerly Groton School Camp), Maplewood Caddy Camp, The BALSAMS Caddy Camp, Camp Merriwood, Camp Mowglis, Ogontz White Mountain Camp, Camp Onaway, Camp Pasquaney, Camp Pemigewassett, Pierce Camp Birchmont, Camp Sentinel, and Camp Winnetaska.


Click here for exhibit related events

May 3. 4-6 pm:Opening Reception: “Summer Camps: The White Mountains Roots of an Iconic American Experience”

June 6.  5-6 pm: Rugged Communalism: Summer Camp, Education, and Democracy
“Summer Camps” curator Paul J. Hutchinson highlights how summer camps actively use outdoor education to teach students the responsibilities of living in a democracy.

June 23. 4-6 pm: Members-only event 
Please join us for a special short behind-the-scenes tour with exhibit co-curators – with plenty of time for questions, plus fun camp activities! Wine and cheese will be served.

June 29. 4:30-5:30 pm: Rockywold-Deephaven Camps: Respite from a Hectic World
Margie Howe Emmons, the great-granddaughter of Rockywold founder, Mary Alice Armstrong, explains how these two family owned and operated Camps have changed with the times and yet retained their purpose: a place where families and friends can reconnect with each other and the natural world.

July 13. 3:30-4:30 pm:  A Manufactured Wilderness
Abigail Van Slyck trains an informed eye on the most visible and evocative aspect of camp life: its landscape and architecture. She argues that camps provided a man-made version of wilderness, shaped by adult anxieties about modernity and its impact on the lives of children.

September 5. 3-4 pm: Nature as a Classroom: Why teaching “out-of-the-doors” was and is still relevant
This experiential and interactive workshop will look at the reasons why nature is such a powerful environment for learning. Prof. Christian Bisson, Adventure Education Program Coordinator will lead a walk in the woods and help visitors appreciate why Nature is great place for teaching and learning.

September 7. 5-6 pm: Camps + Schools = Complete Education
Drawing on more than 35 years of experience working in camps and schools around the world, psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber describes how camps fill the gaps in traditional classroom education, taking children from inside to outside, changing lessons from rote memorization to real-world problem-solving, and from mostly sitting to mostly running around.>

For more information about these events, Click Here.

Lesson Plans (pdf):




This exhibition is made possible in part by the generous support of Bea and Woolsey Conover and the members of the Museum of the White Mountains.