Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Camp - Eisner

Born to an affluent, Jewish family, Michael Eisner was given many opportunities in life. Not surprisingly, he went on to succeed in business, specifically Hollywood (as Paramount CEO and President, as well as the CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation for over twenty years).

One such opportunity came when he was quite young. As a seven-year old, Eisner's father decided that it was time for him to attend the private, Vermont sleep-a-way camp which had been attended by Einser's male family members for years, Camp Keewaydin.

The camp offered Eisner many lessons: canoeing, sports skills, making friends around the camp fire, all while building self esteem and self sufficiency. He also gathered life lessons about people skills and longevity from his beloved Waboos, the camp's director and owner for many years.

Eisner's touching memoir, Camp, is more of a love story. It is touchingly written and shows clearly Eisner's admiration for the camp, its staff, and the experiences it enables. Switching between his own childhood experiences, both as a camper as well as a counselor, and the current day, which boasts of his family's efforts to support underprivileged children's attendance at the camp, via a non-profit organization.

Before reading this book, I had no knowledge of Eisner, or his Disney tenure. I read this book quite literally and enjoyed a man's reminiscence of his childhood. Only after reading it did I delve a bit more into Eisner's experiences at Disney, including an attempted ousting and eventual early resignation. Additionally, as the book pays continual homage to Keewaydin's long-time camp director, one cannot help but wonder about the lack of this gushing for his own father, a New York lawyer whose own children referred to by his first name, Lester, rather than by "father" or "dad". One is left understanding that, in fact, Eisner became the man he is not just because of his camp experiences but because of the family who sent him there, for good or for bad.

Regardless I enjoyed this read, though it was not at all what I had expected. Having read various other camp related memoirs, I anticipated a fun-loving romp but received rather an ode, of sorts. Well written and pleasant, though a bit dry.

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.