Disney CEO Michael Eisner recounts his summer camp experiences in Camp (2005). Eisner was the proverbial "happy camper" and then counselor at Keewaydin in Vermont. Originally founded in Maine in 1893, the camp is one of the oldest and longest running in the United States. Beginning at age seven, Eisner spent his summers in canoes, around campfires, and learning invaluable life lessons which, at the time, he did not realize would ultimately contribute to his future success. In a 2001 speech Eisner delivered at the American Camp Association's Tri-State Camping Conference, he reflected on the infamous Keewaydin canoe trips. "But, oh, the lessons I learned. On these canoe trips, we could never survive the first day if we didn't practice teamwork, show initiative, handle adversity, listen well and, not least important, maintain a sense of humor," he said.
Eisner tells readers that the Keewaydin code calls for a camper to be honest, loyal and "willing to help the other fellow." Eisner states that many of his personal principles stemmed from those instilled in him at Keewaydin as a young boy. Campalso chronicles the experiences of two inner-city boys whose attendance at Keewaydin is sponsored by the Eisner family. Q and Pepe have the opportunity of a lifetime to get out of Los Angeles and attend camp in rural Vermont for a few weeks. Not only does this pair of unlikely campers learn a great deal, but it is clear that the other campers benefit simply by Q and Pepe being there.
Campis Eisner's coming-of-age story but despite it being a personal story, it is utterly relatable. Anyone who has ever attended summer camp will appreciate Eisner's story about the life-long influence it had on him or her and how the values he was taught at camp became a road map for the rest of his life. Camp has been described as "a valentine to summer camp."
A New York native, Michael Eisner first attended camp in 1949. He spent his summers at camp until he was 22, after which he began a distinguished career in the entertainment industry. After graduating from Denison University, Eisner went on to work for NBC, CBS, ABC, Paramount Pictures, and eventually Disney where he served as CEO from 1984 until 2004.