School is out, and summer is upon us. For some kids that means summer camp — a world set apart — a place for children to hike, swim, practice archery, woodcraft and Indian lore. And if the camp truly understands its historic mission, each child will learn how to make a lanyard for their mother.
Pictured above are two of our favorite books on this timeless American tradition. Leslie Paris’ Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp provides a rich social history of both camps, and childhood in general. A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960 by Abigail Van Slyck, takes a similar approach, but adds a generous assortment of period pictures, maps, and architectural plans for camps across North America. Both books brings back those critical “summer days of idle youth.”
Connecting kids and nature remains a constant goal of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Here’s a few more pertinent books from our collection:
Two Excellent Books providing a Historical Context: Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood by Steven Mintz, and Children at Play: An American History by Howard P. Chudacoff.
And here are two groundbreaking books for the entire movement to reconnect kids with nature:
The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble, and Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.
And here’s two more volumes full of practical insights and good ideas:
In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids’ Inner Wildness by Chris Mercogliano, and Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors, a just published book by one of our favorite authors, David Sobel.
For more on connecting children and nature, here are a few of our book-filled posts from the past:
—Child’s Play, Bush Houses & More (featuring David Sobel!)
—The Green Hour (out in nature a little each day)
—Fun Tales of First Contact (children in the empire of ants!)
—To Make the World My Own (the formative childhood days of naturalist Edwin Way Teale)
—No Child Left Inside (adventure tales from the life of naturalist John Muir)