The New Arcadians: Photographs from Scout Camp

The New Arcadians: Photographs from Scout Camp

55.00

Hardbound, 160 pages, 9.5” x 12”
Limited 1st Edition, 1000 copies
Photographs and text by Carey Russell

Shipping January 2019

$55

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From the book's essay "Arcadia, Woodcraft Indians, and the Sons of Daniel Boone" by Carey Russell

During his introduction to Notes on Camp, an episode of the National Public Radio program “This American Life,” host Ira Glass states there is a clearly discernible gap between “camp people and non-camp people.” The photographs in this collection clearly come from someone who belongs to the former. Summer camps have proven to be a fertile ground for teen, coming-of-age comedies and horror films, but more importantly summer camps are one of the few remaining places where young people can have intimate experiences and prolonged interactions with wild nature. Experiences that are sometimes their first and will continue to influence them for the rest of their lives in profound and subtle ways. Therefore, I uphold that for every child, camp should be an indispensable and inalienable right of youth. In my case, those camps were specifically Scout camps, for which this book of photographs is a tribute. I plead no contest to images that appear unapologetically nostalgic. I rest easy with the awareness that it was not as a returning adult, but as a youth at camp that I first experienced and understood the nature of sentimentality. The interplay of campfires and fireflies writ large in the romantic imagination of a twelve-year-old. Such are the memories that receded back into the forest as our troop van ferried us back home to a world of comparative banality. A place where no one, save for those who had experienced camp-life for themselves, would be able to understand. In other incidences I hope the photographs may have some value as a visual ethnography of Scouting, with all of its rituals and insignias, the sources and significance of which I will return to.


Scouting is not above social critique, and in recent decades, frequently its target; however, it is not my aim to do so here. If it has one, the larger message or intention of this collection of photographs is aspirational. They are a subjective mash-up of what was, what is, and what still may be. For current and former Scouts and Scouters, I hope you will be instilled with a renewed sense of purpose. I hope you will come back to the organization as a volunteer, or parent, passing it along to another generation. And if you are a non-Scout, I hope the images may help you see the work of the organization in a new, or more nuanced light. Likewise, for the later, I hope you too will be reminded of the importance of your own local or regional summer camp and nature center, and help them to live up to their fullest potential as they struggle with their own issues related to funding and relevance among young people. Here I should make a distinction between “nature” camps, for which I will typically use the colloquial term, summer camp, and alternative “camps” dedicated to athletics or performing arts. I make no claim for or against the later, but wish to draw the distinction and build an argument for the former.

 

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