Michael Eisner Camp Book Review

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of “There’s No Place Like Summer Camp”. I’m your host Andrew Waterhouse. And in today’s episode, we’re taking a look at and reviewing Michael Eisner’s Camp Book. So coming into our tent, and I’ll spill those juicy, juicy beans.


Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of “There’s No Place Like Summer Camp”. I hope you’re doing well. It’s a nice summery day, which feels very out of place for January. And I’ve just spent the last probably week or two reading Michael Eisner’s Camp Book. Now, this was touched upon in a previous podcast where I was looking at the celebrities that have gone to camp, or famous people should I say? And Michael Eisner stood out because he’s the former CEO of Disney. And what stood out even further was, as I was recording the podcast, I found out that he released a book all about his time at summer camp, which is cool to see. Of course, if you’re brand new to this podcast, you may not know this. There’s No Place Like Summer Camp is all about summer camp, of course. But there’s also the book that’s been in the works for a long time. So let me just start with that.


So the book is coming on well. I am so close to finishing it. I’m not sure if I should give you the full ins and outs. But let me just say, some very progressive stages have been completed now. And the release date will be very imminent. I’m getting some author copies just to double-check that the book looks right and feels right in the hand. I can’t say too much more. But “There’s No Place Like Summer Camp” is not only just a podcast, it is a book as well. So when I stumbled upon any summer Camp book really, I always make sure to give it a buy, and try and give it a review. I think I’ve only done one of these reviews before, but I have read a fair few. So look out for those future episodes. But anyway, let’s crack on with Michael Eisner’s Camp.

Who is Michael Eisner?

So who is Michael Eisner, that’s probably a good place to start? Because maybe you’re not all familiar with who he was. But when I saw his name and my research, it stood out to me, because he is the former CEO of Disney. And that’s a big name if I’ve ever seen one in business. He had volunteered at a camp called “Keewaydin” for many years. So he volunteered at camp as a staff member for four years, but he had gone to camp as a camper for many years too. He once told in an interview, obviously, as a CEO, you get interviewed quite a lot by the press and the media and that sort of thing. One of the questions that came up to him one time was, where was the place that you learned everything you needed to become the CEO of Disney? He pondered about this question for a little while, and then came back with summer camp Keewaydin. The interviewer sort of like chuckled, and I think the rest of the room did too.

Ex-CEO of Disney

But the more he thought about it, the more he was assured that he learned the most for becoming a CEO of such a great company as Disney at summer camp rather than school, university college or any of that, and that was telling. I might butcher the name, but I’m gonna stick with Keewaydin as the name and that was something that I’ve found with this book. There are so many different names and funny names for things. So not only have you got a strange name for the camp Keewaydin. There are so many funny things or terms for things that I was reading in his book where I was sort of like, what’s this? So he’s got a thing called by, this is probably common lingo for someone in America but I’d never heard of beds referred to as cots. So throughout the whole book, he was talking about sitting on their cot, and I was like they’re caught this. There are all these campuses are sleeping in cots because obviously, a cot in the UK is sort of like a baby bed, very small baby bed is the best way I can describe it as like sort of gated sides. So the bed you drop the baby in, you put the baby to sleep, you can look over, should they’re still in the bed, they can’t roll out or anything like that. And that’s what a cot is to me. But during this book, they seem to be using a cot as a bed a lot of the time.

Americanisms make the book great

So I don’t know if that’s just an American thing, and I was just getting confused. But they also have words like coupe, which is like their version of certifications and getting some recognition for the stuff that they do around camp, which was pretty cool. Week wham, which is the night which is the word for the names of the units. And they refer to their staff as staff men, they don’t call them counsellors or specialists or anything like that. They call them staff men. And that was interesting. That was cool. Just to get a bit of perspective into how different summer camps run and their terminology of things was cool. And right at the back of the book, you do get a camp dictionary, which I kind of wish at the start of the book, they said that the dictionary was there because it wasn’t that well spelt out. And another little minor point, this is where I’m touching upon some poor writing. I’m talking like I’m a fucking JK Rowling over here. It’s not the case, trust me. This is just my first venture, but I like to review books. I’m an avid reader, and this genre appeals to me. But just when I was reading the camp dictionary at the end, as well, there were so many times in there that weren’t referenced in the book. And I get that there’s a lot of nostalgia for Keewaydin. And the terminology that he may have used around camp, but when I was reading that camp dictionary, I was just like, you haven’t even mentioned half of these words. But that’s just a minor point. I’m talking like, I’m JK Rowling. So I need to get off my high horse and continue with the rest of the review.

Keewaydin Summer Camp Book Review

So, what is Keewaydin? Well, Keewaydin, and this is what I really liked about reading this book. It offers you a different perspective on what different summer camps are like now. You will know that the summer camp that I volunteered at for two years, was a Jewish summer camp. And coming from an outside perspective, with no Jewish upbringing, no knowledge about Judaism or anything like that, and not being religious myself at all. I sort of came into the summer camp that I went to, with sort of open eyes and learning a new culture. Keewaydin it’s a different type of camp. It’s not a religious one. It’s a canoeing camp, and it’s only for boys. So that was interesting, just to get a different kind of camp. One of the things that they often do, Keewaydin is tripping. Now, this is a big part of their camp where they take a few days out of the camp schedule to take campers canoeing and going on massive canoe trips, camping outside of the normal camp bounds of Keewaydin. And sort of getting that independence to cook your food, make sure you get there in one piece and make sure you’re sort of surviving in a way.


So going to read about a different camping experience was cool. And I think if you have the passion for summer camp a little bit over the top as I do in a way, I think you’ll enjoy reading this book, it gives you a different perspective and how different camps can run. I loved this book, how he talks about a lot of the firsts, like the unease of growing older, taking responsibility, being a bit of a counsellor, and staff men for these kids, and feeling like an adult for the first time and making the sort of mistakes as you do as you’re growing up. But I have to say, it’s a completely different experience to what my camp was like. Now, of course, my background when I was volunteering at my summer camp was as an outdoor living specialist. So I was responsible for taking the kids out on their campouts and it was similar in a way too there. So the Keewaydin way of taking kids out on their canoe trips and staying away from camp for a little bit. I can see there’s a cross similarity there. But what likes baffled me was hearing about these spa sessions, these staff men would set up for these kids so they’d be doing their campout stuff and they’d be doing a campfire and the tents would be all sort of like, maybe a bit wet, maybe their clothes are a bit wet. So what these staff members would do, would put rocks within the campfire. Cook up some rocks, get them to really hot temperatures, pick them up with like a shovel or something and dump them into a tent. And what essentially that would create is sort of like a spa inside the tent. And that was ringing so many alarm bells for me. As someone that took kids out on camp trips, I would never put boiling hot rocks within the tent to try and create a sparse theme room sort of atmosphere.

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Michael Eisner at Summer Camp

Now this story is all about Michael Eisner and his perspective of summer camp. Now I’ve touched upon how you get a different perspective with this book because this is coming from a CEO of Disney for number one, is coming from someone that’s had many years of being a camper number two. And number three, he’s been a stockman, that’s number three. Number four is, that he’s also got the perspective of after camp now. And after his Disney times and being a parent and sort of having the scholarship schemes where he can take camp unprivileged underclass, I don’t know if that’s the right term, but unprivileged sort of campers to camp. So you’re getting a very mixed perspective on summer camps, you can tell that this is someone that has camp running in their DNA. So you get a lot of different stories and a lot of different time jumps within this book, and that’s where I found the writing hard to read. And sort of understanding why certain chapters were in there entirely. I think that is a tricky challenge to try and do when you’re fucking CEO of Disney for Christ’s sake.

This is sort of a side hustle like a hobby ish type of book. So I understand why it was quite a hard book to write. And it would have been very hard to reminisce about summer camp without hopping all over the place because he wasn’t someone from what I could tell that wrote about summer camp while he was there, similar to what There’s No Place Like Summer Camp is all about. So it was cool to get that perspective of those four different stages of where he has had camp run through him. And a lot of this book, he dedicates to one individual called Waboos. And this gentleman is a Camp Director that has camp running through their DNA. He’s been running the camp for like 80 years and he’s sort of the heartbeat of this camp, and he means a lot to Michael Eisner. It’s sad to see that Waboos has passed away since this book has been released. But I’m sure Keewaydin gave him a very good send off as well as sort of like the flower bed they created when his wife passed away shortly before he did.

A dedication to Waboos

So, there’s a big part of this book dedicated to Waboos. And how this Waboos guy was very involved with all of the kids would recognize all of their faces, all of their intricate stories. And he’d be doing it year after year after year after year, and he would live and breathe summer camp, and this person that sort of kept them going as well. So they did have some tricky times, like back, I think it was just shortly after World War II, they were struggling with finances, and they potentially were going to sell the camp off. And he was one of those rescuers that came to the camps aid and has been with them ever since. And he’s been with camp since he was about eight years old, from what I could tell. So he did live and breathe Keewaydin. And a big part of this book is dedicated to him. So I’m sure a lot of us listening to this podcast today can sympathize and also understand that there are those characters where you go to summer camp, and you have those people that just literally live and breathe it and bring such an energy to your summer camp that makes it so special for you. So I appreciated how in detail, he went with Waboos and also dedicating the entire book to him.


Now, midway on from this book, not only do we talk about Waboos, but we touch upon two campers. So there’s two campers called Que and Pepe. Now, these are campers that are going through Michael Eisner’s scheme, where it’s like a charity foundation sort of type of thing. They bought two campers in from California. And they’re from dodgy sort of backgrounds where they can’t afford to do anything. The Disney program, I think it’s called growth or something like that. Accelerate or power, Disney something, there’s a Disney program that sponsors kids to do these sort of things, which is really cool. And these two kids that went to, that are focused on in this book, I’m sure there’s hundreds of kids that go every year. But for particularly this book, Que and Pepe are focused upon. It’s cool to see how these two particular campers grow and become familiar and make so many friends and the inner workings of what camp is like how they become these outsiders to intermingling with the people that have been coming for some time or a local to the area. It’s just really cool to sort of see two different perspectives because you have I think it’s the Que that’s very outgoing, very sporty, very cool, gets all the girls. Then there’s Pepe who’s a little bit more reserved, but they both come from these backgrounds, where all of their friends back home are sort of getting into drugs, drinks, and violence and that sort of thing. So I think Michael here has sort of demonstrated that camp does have a touching effect on so many people. And this is just to campers that he particularly singled out because they go on such a transformative journey by the end of it.


Now, I previously touched upon how there’s like four different sort of sections to this book, how he was combat himself, how he was a staff man, how he’s a dad with his own son going to camp and how Michael has this foundation bringing these kids through the camp scholarship sort of program. And the one of the other really interesting parts was the part where his son is going to camp for the first time. I think his name was called Breck or something. And what he’s done is, he sort of keeps all those nerves and excitement in this. Breck, son of Michael Eisner knows at the age that he’s going. I think he was about eight years old when he was going to come for the first time. He understands that this is an important place to his dad, his granddad and all the generations before have been going to this camp. And when Michael Eisner is taking his son there and dropping him off, Michael in his head sort of knows that this is going to be a transformative experience for him. And it was cool to see how Michael was not trying to cover him in candy floss, and make him safe with bubble wrap and that sort of thing because he knows that there’s going to be ups and downs and it’s sort of the first time that Breck is going to be, I was gonna say Brock, but that’s someone from Pokemon.


Breck is going to have his ups and downs on the roller coaster at camp, and he’s going to miss home because it’s the first time that he is living away from his parents and that sort of thing. And I’m not, I don’t know if you know this, but I don’t have any children yet. But when I was reading this book, I was like, Oh, that’s a different perspective, or something I wouldn’t have thought about. And because I’m not a parent, I don’t understand yet the anxieties of having your child and sort of trying to bring them up, but also not trying to close them off from having their own experiences and understanding things in their mind without being told how to experience things by their dad sort of thing. So that was cool as well.

Summary review of Michael Eisner’s Camp

In closing, this review, I think that “Camp” by Michael Eisner is a great book. It’s by someone that has camping their DNA. And it’s coming from someone that is very high up as you’d like to say, I don’t know if you know the ins and outs of the Disney story and that sort of separate to this book. But Michael Eisner is no longer with Disney. He left as this book was being published, which was a bit strange, but this was always a side project and something that he would always sort of like come back to reset his mind. He’s no longer with Disney. But he’s still very successful. He’s currently owning many different businesses. And the one that stood out to me was Portsmouth Football Club, which is pretty crazy. So he is in the UK, which is a bit strange, or at least he occasionally visits to come and support that team. But like I say, it is a great book, you get a lot of different perspectives, coming from someone high up as well is cool to just sort of tell that story in the passion that he has for summer camp. And he touches upon a lot of firsts within the book as well, which is something that I’ve tried to do with mine, because summer camp for me, I could kind of relate.

Relatability of volunteering at camp

There was a lot of things that I did at camp where they were first for me, and the amount of responsibility that you’d have and the growth that everyone goes through not just the staff, but also the campers too, it’s cool. And he does come across that well. The only thing that I didn’t like about this was the writing it had, it has to deduct some points for this for me. It was really hard to read. And I think that is a shame because there is so much there that comes across well. But it’s just told, it’s told in a clunky sort of way, the time hopping doesn’t help. And I think that could have just been a bit more polished in my opinion. But I think this is a good book. I like after say this, because I am jealous of the inner design work of the first, like the hardcover, you open the book and the first pages you see a map of the camp, and that’s cool. That’s something that’s always going to be there for years and years to come. And that’s something that sticks with me as my book is about to be published. I’m going to be long gone, and my book is still going to be around.

Hopefully it’ll be in people’s homes, hopefully, it’ll be in charity shops and available online. That’s something that happens with these books, they’re always going to be available. They’re going to outlast you and having this dedication to Keewaydin and Waboos and how formative the camp was, and having that image of the map just sort of show how it all comes together, and that sort of thing is cool. It’s touching piece. So anyway, it’s a good book. I did enjoy it. I have to say it’s not probably going to be for everyone, but I think if you really enjoy camp and you like Disney particularly, it’s going to be an interesting read. It gives you a lot of different perspectives like I say, there are plenty of worse books out there. So in my review, I give this 7/10. Okay, guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode that was “Camp” by Michael Eisner.


I’m excited to try and like see where this podcast goes. Because this wasn’t an episode that I planned at all. I think the sort of episodes can come up and come from the blue. So Michael, if you’re listening, I’m always here. You can reach me on Twitter at @androow09. We’re also available in Instagram, theresnoplacelikesummercamp, or you can go to theresnoplacelikesummercamp.com/contact. And there’s like a contact form there. But I think interviewing celebrities, man, I call him a celebrity. I don’t think that celebrity is the right term. It’s a CEO. It’s an ex-CEO, it’s someone that’s famous. It’s someone that’s been successful celebrity to me, it’s someone that’s appeared on a reality TV show and that’s not the case for this guy. So we’ll see what happens.


Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed this one. It was certainly different. Camp is available on platforms like Amazon and eBay and that sort of place you’d be out. I think you’d be able to get them secondhand by now. Because this was released in 2005. I don’t know if they’re still printing this, but have a look. I don’t think it’d be too expensive. For anyone that’s interested in Camp, for anyone it’s interested in Keewaydin, especially if you’ve been there, 100% the one for you. Give it a read. It’s going to be going on my bookshelf, and hopefully, mine will be alongside it very soon.


Okay, guys, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please subscribe. Please like the podcast. Tell your friends. Tell your mom, and I’ll see you next Tuesday. All right, bye.

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