Sunday, June 22, 2003

Lifestyle alert!
Sarah Baxter in the UK Times - US teens ditch summer camp for health spas:
American teenagers are turning their backs on traditional hiking, canoeing and climbing summer camps. The latest trend is for an inward-bound voyage of discovery in which you learn to love yourself, practise meditation and t’ai chi and pamper yourself with a facial and a pedicure.

Bunk beds in log cabins by the lake are out, private bedrooms in elegant surroundings are in.

Genna Epstein, 14, tried the mosquitoes-in-the-wood experience one summer and hated it. “It was very grungy,” she said. “I went hiking and biking and played soccer and basketball and I was always being told, ‘This is what you have to do’.”

Her mother Ros had already tried out Canyon Ranch’s spa and health resort for adults in Massachusetts. When she heard it was starting up a camp for 12 to 17-year-olds in her home state of Pennsylvania, she thought this would be just the tonic for Genna.

“She glowed when she came home. Her favourite classes were kickboxing and yoga, meditation and funk aerobics. They even had one called footwear analysis — and she came home and told me her fashion sneakers weren’t good for her feet. Yes, she got her nails done, but it’s not like she was going to the beauty salon every day.”
Footwear analysis?
“Children of today have a more deeply felt interest in personal development and self-empowerment,” said the CosmiKids director Judy Williams. On the curriculum are “pint-sized aromatherapy” and “fishing for intentions at the bridge of the imagination”. The vending machines will serve only healthy snacks.

“Creative learning sessions” such as dance, storytelling, beadwork and songs will help children to develop a “reverence for humanity and the universe”.

It is a far cry from the Gunnery, generally considered to be the first American camp. Two teachers, Frederick and Abigail Gunn, took pupils from their school in Washington, Connecticut, on a two-week hiking trip in 1861. They struck camp and went trapping, boating and fishing. With the spreading of the Boy Scout movement to America and concerns for the health of “weakly” urban children, a tradition was born.
I'd like to see someone demonstrate trapping in one of the "creative learning sessions". That would have 'em running screaming for the exits.
Now 10m American children attend summer camps each year and, with prices of between $600 (£360) and $2,000 (£1,200) a week, new market trends are too lucrative to ignore.
Boys have yet to catch up with the kinder, gentler camps. There was only one in Genna Epstein’s group last year, but he got into the spirit. “He loved it just as much as we did,” she said. “He had a manicure and a pedicure and was totally open to anything.”

She is hoping he will return, like her, for the new summer season. “I made tons of friends and still talk to them all. The camp really makes you feel happy with who you are.”
Somehow I overlooked this trend. Out here in flyover country, we have Vacation Bible School.