Saturday, July 25, 2015

Camping Out With Books

My son, who is attending sleepaway camp for four weeks, sent an urgent note that he finished a book we’d given him and that he needs to get his hands on the sequel.  Nothing makes me happier than to see my two children show a hunger and love for books.  They both enjoy reading.

I ran to my local bookstore, by work in the city, but they didn’t have Cherub: Mission 2 in stock.  But they tracked it down for me at another B&N store, just 30 blocks away (a mile and a half).  I took a nice walk at lunchtime and retrieved the book.  Off it went, into the eager and awaiting arms of a 10- ½-year-old boy.

His camp is like many contemporary camps.  They don’t allow electronic devices, so no cellphones, iPod touches, or even iPads.  If he wants to read, he does it the old fashioned way – with paper books. There’s also no television and no videogames.  That’s how it should be.

My seven-year-old daughter enjoys going to a day-camp.  Unfortunately, she got lice in the second week, along with two other girls.  After a visit to the local “lice lady” - yes, there’s such a person – and $250 later – she was in good spirits.  It turned out on the same day she got kooties, my son got stung in the head by a bee.  I guess when you play all day in nature, things are going to happen.

Camps are actually a great market for authors and publishers.  Millions of kids, like my son, go away for at least several weeks every summer.  Many would love to read a book.  Camps should make a visit to their local bookstore so kids can buy up what they want.  Make it a field trip. Why not?

Camps are great for the post office, too.  Though many camps have an email system where kids write letters by hand and camps scan them back home, kids also send letters by snail mail.  Parents send care packages in return.

His camp doesn’t allow junk food to be sent but he figured out a scheme to resell individual pieces of gum that he smuggled into camp.  He brought about $15 worth of gum that he thinks he can get over 50 bucks for.  I haven’t seen this much daring entrepreneurship since watching Risky Business with Tom Cruise.

I never went to summer camp.  

I was raised in Brooklyn in the late 70s and early 80s and camp for me was a pick-up stickball game at the schoolyard or a round of paddleball at the Avenue M park in Midwood.  I’d spend hours and hours playing ball – no counselors, no coaches, no parents.  It was kid justice, where a Lord of the Flies mentality rules.  Most kids got along, but sometimes the bully comes out when people are competing.

I don’t remember reading any books the summer I was 10 my son’s age.  I just was just starting to discover newspapers and magazines.  I read Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, Sports Illustrated, daily newspapers, and anything at that time I could get my hands on.  Sporting News and Popular Mechanic became my favorites.  TV Guide, too.

It’s great to raise a generation of voracious readers.  Reading is what will get society on the right track.  When information is shared and ideas are exchanged, our nation will flourish.  But we have to get millions of illiterates help – and we have to get young people (and older) to spend time away from screens and focused on books.

At camp, that kind of world is going on.  Amen.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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