Camp Make-Believe


Remember the worlds of imagination you traversed as a kid? Sorcerors and dragons sprang from nehind bushes. Robin Hood and his Merry Men roamed the woods behind the house and Marilyn Monroe was hanging out with Madonna in the bathroom mirror, just waiting to be unleashed for a music video shoot.

Or maybe that was just my house.

These days, you can hardly make it through the day without stumbling over some pundit or other bemoaning kids’ lack of imagination, lack of interest in books, and lack of creativity. Newsweek ran a major story this month on the creativity crisis in America.

None of that is in evidence at the make-believe camps that are springing up around the country. Based on popular children’s books, these camps give kids a chance to attend Hogwarts, train with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or dive into the Daring Book for Girls.

These summer camps organize the wild imaginary play my friends and I carried on through my childhood years. They’re a combination of live-action roleplaying and a book club. In other words: my geeky little soul is in love. Can I sign up?

These literary adventure camps are often run by bookstores. The settings and props are extremely homemade. Camp Half-Blood in Brooklyn runs outdoors in a public park. The kids have matching T-shirts, not suits of armor. The treasure they seek is bits of colored foam sprinkled with glitter. This is far from high-tech entertainment.

Which is part of the magic. The kids are having a blast. These camps sell out all over the country because they’re giving kids a chance to dive into the world’s of their imagination for a week or two.

Photo: marcelinoportfolio