Six-year-old William Shatner brought audience to tears at summer camp

Actor William Shatner is currently on the road touring his one-man show “Shatner’s World – We Just Live In It” as an almost 84-year-old performer telling stories and well, being William Shatner, the iconic actor known for playing Captain Kirk in Star Trek and portraying himself in commercials.

Shatner’s audience is global now but it started small when he was only a 6-year-old camper at a camp his aunt ran in the mountains of North Montreal called Rabin’s Camp staging a play for parents. Shatner had the leading role, of course.

“I wanted to box at that camp – hitting people seemed like fun – but my aunt instead put me in a play named Winterset,” Shatner recalled in his 2009 autobiography Up Till Now. “My role was that of a young boy forced to leave his home because the Nazis were coming. In the climatic scene I had to say good-bye to my dog, knowing I probably would never see him again.”

The dog was played by another camper in a costume made of newspaper and they performed the play on parents’ weekend for an audience consisting primarily of people who had escaped the Nazis.

“I cried, the audience cried, everybody cried,” Shatner wrote.” I remember taking my bow and seeing people wiping away their tears. I remember the warmth of my father holding me as people told him what a wonderful son he had. Just imagine the impact that had on a six-year-old child. I had the ability to move people to tears. And I could get approval.”

Shatner went on to perform as a counselor at the camp, reading Poe and Kafka around the campfire to kids, many of whom had lost parents in the Holocaust. Shatner also mentions working as a counselor at B’nai B’rith camp in his autobiography and is listed among the notable alumni of Camp Massad in Quebec.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. 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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