CBC Digital Archives

Summer camp: Space camp appeals to 'sky gazers'

Swimming, canoeing, campfires and making new friends: these summer camp activities have been a rite of passage for countless Canadian children for more than a century. In recent decades, we've also seen the proliferation of specialty camps – be it music camp, space camp or circus camp – as well as camps for children with special needs and various medical conditions. From the first hello to the last sad goodbye, CBC Digital Archives looks at summer camp since the 1960s.

"At this summer camp, these sky gazers go on a real star trek," says reporter Dan Bjarnason in this 1994 CBC-TV news report. It's a space camp in Northern Ontario, called the Algonquin Space Campus, and the campers here are having a stellar time. They do all the normal camp activities - swimming, campfires and the like - but the real appeal of this camp is the opportunity to experiment with satellites, robots, rockets and astronaut training machines like the "multi-axis trainer."
• In 1986, a Hollywood film called Space Camp was a big hit in North American movie theatres. Starring actors Lea Thompson, Kate Capshaw, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan and Joaquin Phoenix, it was about a group of teens at a summer space camp who accidentally get launched into space while sitting in a shuttle.
  • By the 1980s and 90s, summer camp was no longer just about swimming and campfires. During these decades, specialty camps began to crop up everywhere. These days there are specialty camps for every interest under the sun: gymnastics, tennis, music, arts & crafts, cheerleading, science, drama, computers - if there are children interested in an activity, there is likely a camp for it.

• In a 2008 Sports Illustrated article, writer Frank Deford laments this proliferation in specialty camps: "For the current generation of 21st century kids, whatever they're called, the camps have become downright vocational. A boy who has parents who think he can win an athletic scholarship as a quarterback gets sent to quarterback camp. Or a pitching camp. Or a goalie camp. They probably have offensive left-tackle camps now because left-tackles make a bundle in the NFL. Summer for children now is a time of apprenticing. Nobody anymore is treading water with a candle to a Strauss waltz. There's no future in that."

Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: July 10, 1994
Reporter: Dan Bjarnason
Duration: 3:02

Last updated: May 16, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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