Summer Camp News & Notes – July 15

-Added Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal to the Famous Alumni list. The siblings attended Camp Walt Whitman in New Hampshire. Also added Actor Paul Adelstein (Prison Break, Private Practice), Actor Gene Wilder and Singer-songwriter Joshua Radin to the list, thanks to an email from Brian Glickman. All three are fellow alumni of Brian’s at North Star Camp in Hayward, Wisconsin.

-CNN had a kind of boring article about summer camp on the same day that the New York Times does what the New York Times does – finds an interesting trend story, this one about the improving summer camp food scene.

Certainly there are camps that still serve “hello muddah” steam-table food: chicken nuggets, Sloppy Joes and French fries, with salad bars freighted with cottage cheese, Jell-O and iceberg lettuce (emphasis on the “ice”). Or, as Ballibay’s owner, John J. A. Jannone, who inherited the camp from his parents, put it: “The food wasn’t terrible. It was pizza, pasta, cheap processed carbs off the trucks, throw some protein on top and you’re done. Feed ’em well, keep it coming and get through the day.”

But in the last few years, camp food has increasingly become camp cuisine, transformed from an afterthought to a prominent place at the table. Camps no longer hire cooks; they hire chefs. Ballibay’s chef, Alex Dino, is a caterer who has written a cookbook on tofu.

-Actress Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) recently passed on the summer camp tradition to another generation.

-“The summers passed and the magic of Camp Emmaus remained. Camp Emmaus was my safe place, a place of discovery, where an anxious, awkward girl could test ideas, experiment with artistic inclinations, take risks, and exchange soft, sweet kisses with boys-not -named-Adam beneath the stars.

I remember my 6 years of camp in superlatives. It was the best camp. Those weeks were the best weeks of my childhood. All of my bestchildhood friends came from camp. I was the best I could be at camp.” -From an essay on the Chicago Now blog My Sports Complex, part of a series they’ve been running on summer camps.

-A couple of summer camp-inspired crowd source funded projects released videos this week, a trailer for the indie movie “The Summer Before” and episode one of the anti-bullying web series Jedi Camp.

What did I miss this week?

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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