Synopses & Reviews
For those who have been there, there is no forgetting the sounds and smells of summer camp: of dusty playing fields, platform tents, and wood cabins; of mist rising off the water at dawn and the sparks of a Sunday night campfire sailing up into a cold night sky. Now Michael D. Eisner shares a deeply personal memoir of his own experiences at one remarkable Vermont summer camp, of the life lessons he learned there and how they helped turned him into the man he is today.
Camp is Eisner's ode to Keewaydin, a summer camp that was already a family tradition when he was a boy and that continues as a tradition today. As he recounts his experiences at Keewaydin, from his own first night away from home to his years as a counselor to an emotionally charged visit back as the father of a new generation of Keewaydin campers, Camp becomes a guide to growing up: learning to rely on yourself as you work in a team, competing to win but finding pride and growth in defeat, discovering the wonder of nature as well as the nature of the men and women who have gone before you.
From a Saturday night dance at a nearby girls' camp to the portrait of Keewaydin's legendary leader a strong young man in Eisner's youth and a proud octogenarian in his children's time Michael D. Eisner shares anecdotes that are by turns heartwarming and hilarious, excruciating and tender. He talks about his family's commitment to helping less advantaged young people share Keewaydin's wonders, lifelong friendships that were forged there, and how moments from those summers return when he is hard at work in Hollywood or alone with his wife or children.
A rare glimpse into the inner life of an American corporate executive, Camp is an important personal chronicle of success: the kind of success that a child can find in a remote corner of the Vermont woods and never ever leave behind.
"No one who attended the Walt Disney Co.'s 2004 annual meeting could forget Michael Eisner's sangfroid before a throng of shareholders who were calling for his ouster. What helped calm Eisner during the storm, we now learn, was writing about the lessons he (supposedly) learned all those years ago at Keewaydin, the Vermont camp where Michael and other Eisner lads before him and after spent many happy summers. Eisner is a man of powerful charm and if one knew nothing else about him, this valentine to a place that is clearly his Rosebud might win the reader over (though an attempt to bring current interest to the account by following two disadvantaged youngsters transported to Keewaydin thanks in part to the largesse of the Eisner family doesn't really work). The account intercuts between Eisner's experience and the experience of Keewaydin campers today, with a healthy salting of lessons learned, along with a sprinkling of Eisner family history. Eisner perhaps unwittingly paints an unflattering portrait of his father, whom he calls Lester instead of Dad, while paying extensive homage to Lester's stand-in, Waboos, longtime Keewaydin director.Anyone lucky enough to have a happy, hokey place like Keewaydin in his life a place of simple, steadfastly unchanging charms can sense Eisner's manifestly genuine love of the experience.But as it happens, we know quite a lot about Eisner and much of it isn't flattering. [Masters has written and spoken widely and critically about the movie business, Disney and Eisner. Ed.] So it's hard to stay focused on the Camp text when one's eyes keep rolling. (As when he writes, 'Working in business can be another canoe trip.') Eisner tells us the Keewaydin code calls for a camper to be honest, loyal and 'willing to help the other fellow.' When he then says, 'Many of my principles were Keewaydin principles,' it's easy to wonder what other Keewaydin alumni might make of that statement. Eisner seems irresistibly drawn to write. That much came through during the Katzenberg trial (notes from Eisner's previous book Work in Progress were the source of his famous 'I hate the little midget' quote). It happened again in last year's shareholder suit over the hiring and firing of Ovitz as Disney's president. On the witness stand, Eisner had to explain away his own memos calling his former pal a 'psychopath' and a liar, among other things. Eisner could not stop himself then, and he cannot stop himself now. Camp was delayed last year, in the midst of the Disney drama, and Eisner comments tartly in his prologue that he was distracted by 'people who could have used a few summers at camp earlier in their lives.' Perhaps it would have helped if that Keewaydin code had included an admonition to 'know thyself.' 8-page photo insert. Agent, Irwin Russell. (June) Kim Masters covers the business of entertainment for NPR and is the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else (HarperCollins)." Kim Masters, Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Eisner's own recollections are smart and immediate....A well-told story of the raw ingredients of growing up, free of bluster but full of brio." Kirkus Reviews
Media visionary and business titan Eisner presents a candid look back at one of the most formative experiences of his life the time he spent at summer camp learning life lessons while sitting in the stern of a canoe or meeting around a campfire at night.
Over the years, as a camper and a counselor, Disney CEO Michael Eisner absorbed the life lessons that come from sitting in the stern of a canoe or meeting around a campfire at night. With anecdotes from his time spent at Keewaydin and stories from his life in the upper echelons of American business that illustrate the camp's continued influence, Eisner creates a touching and insightful portrait of his own coming-of-age, as well as a resounding declaration of summer camp as an invaluable national institution.
About the Author
Michael D. Einser has worked in the entertainment industry for over forty years, the last twenty-one as chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. He and his wife, Jane, live in Los Angeles. All of his proceeds from this book have been donated to The Eisner Foundation, which is providing scholarships to send underserved children to the camp.