What Celeb Summer Camped in the San Juan Islands?

Hey there, Summer Campers!

We talk about so many celebrities who were once summer campers like yourselves here on the Everything Summer Camp Blog. Mark another celebrity for today—I’m talking about Mei Mei herself—Kate Hudson—who attended Four Winds * Westward Ho Boys and Girls Summer Camp when she was closer to your age.

Kate spent her summer days soaking in the sunny fun on Orcas Island in Washington State’s San Juan Islands. The island provides a hundred acres of shady woods, open fields, and gorgeous waterfront—lending the perfect environment for an awesome variety of activities and programs to develop skills and confidence in their Kate Hudson started her confident career in acting in 1996campers.

Born to the Academy Award-winning actress Goldie Hawn and comedian/actor/musician Bill Hudson, Kate didn’t grow up with the easiest family life—her parents divorced when she was just one year old. She was raised chiefly by her mother in Los Angeles.

After completing her elementary and high school education, Kate started at Crossroads, a college preparatory school in Santa Monica. She graduated in 1997 and, though she was accepted into New York University, she opted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue her career in acting instead of trying for her undergraduate degree.

She had already made a television appearance on the show ‘Party of Five’ and thought she had a chance to make it big. By the very next year she appeared in two films and by 2000, she starred as Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe’s coming-of-age motion picture ‘Almost Famous’.

Much more recently, Kate voiced the character Mei Mei in the 2016 Dreamworks feature Kung Fu Panda 3 as well as television appearances such as ‘Glee’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’.

Despite hardships she faced in her youth, Kate still rose to the heights of success with a great acting career. No matter what hardships you face in your life, you’re sure to have successes as well. Be sure to Four Winds in Washington if it sounds like the right camp for you and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Ben Stiller: Born to Act

Hey, Summer Campers!

No matter if celebrities are singer/songwriters, famous athletes, or big Hollywood stars, so many of them seem to have once been summer campers back when they were younger. Ben Stiller has cemented his name in the comedy world, but did you know he attended camp before he became a household name? Look at this handsome mug!

It’s true. Born and raised in New York City, Ben and his parents Anne and Jerry decided on the East Coast camp, Camp Pinnacle—located at the center of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina in Flat Rock. In operation since 1928, Ben went to camp a bit later (in the 70s), unlike his dad, Jerry Stiller who went to camp roughly a decade after Camp Pinnacle was founded. You can check out more on Jerry Stiller by clicking here.

With two actors for parents, Ben was given a front-row seat to the hectic lifestyle of show business. He would regularly join his mother and father on the sets of television shows and, looking back on his early years, said that “It was a show-business upbringing—a lot of traveling, a lot of late nights—not what you’d call traditional.”

His childhood was anchored with his sister, Amy, just a few years older than him. With a sensible interest in filmmaking, Ben and Amy would make Super 8 movies with friends as often as they could. After being inspired by the television show Second City Television while in high school, Stiller realized that he wanted to get involved with sketch comedy.

Ben scored his acting debut at just nine years old when his mother landed a short-lived television series from the 70s called ‘Kate McShane’. As Ben found a love for acting, he still had fun inviting his sister to appear in a number of his movies.

Despite his nontraditional childhood, Ben had his fun summer camp experience and he had a consistent school education, having attended the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine and he graduated from the Calhoun School in New York. During his high school years, Ben was inspired by ‘Second City Television’ TV show that sparked his interest in sketch comedy.

After high school, Ben enrolled at the University of California in Los Angeles to study film. During his time there, however, he couldn’t shake the idea he wasn’t making the right choice. After just nine months, he moved back home to take acting classes in particular. With talent and determination, he worked away doing auditioning and searching for an agent—which, as we all know, he was successful. You can check out Camp Pinnacle to see if it looks like a good fit for you by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Find Out What Texas Camp Ethan Hawke Attended!

Hey, Summer Campers!

The same as so many Hollywood stars, professional athletes, musical artists, and other celebrities, among so many of our favorite Hollywood actors who attended summer camp when they were young, movie star Ethan Hawke is yet another former camper in thRead about Ethan Hawke's time away at summer camp!e biz! Frequently found in film features all throughout the 90’s, he started making a name for himself even before that when he was only 15.

And it wasn’t much before then that Ethan attended summer camp at the YMCA Camp Carter in Texas. Located just minutes from downtown Fort Worth, Camp Carter covers more than 300 acres of heavily wooded land as well as its own lake and waterfront access to the Trinity river, showing kids—like Ethan Hawke back in the early 80s—the time of their lives.

Between his camp stay and his first movie, Ethan starred for the first time on the stage for his high school production of ‘Saint Joan’ When he first started high school, Ethan wanted to be a writer, but it didn’t take long for the acting bug to settle in and he knew this was what he wanted to do.

So eager to get into the business, the 15-year-old Ethan landed a lead role in the sci-fi movie as mentioned above. While the movie ‘Explorers’ went on to develop a cult following, it did not do well in the theaters. Though he’s not proud to admit it, ‘Explorers’ poor immediate reception took a toll on Ethan and he unofficially gave up acting for the time being. In retrospect, he feels that he rushed things along too quickly. “I would never recommend that a kid act,” he has said.

He returned to acting five years later after completing his education and saw better success than he did on his initial run. In just a few years, he found his role alongside Robin Williams in ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ which was a great launching point that brought him the work of 18 films throughout the 90s.

Ethan’s acting career also included some television appearances such as an episode of ‘Alias’ as well as ‘Moby Dick’ the made-for-TV miniseries. You can check out Camp Carter for yourself by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Guess Where this Geek Attended Camp!

Hey, Summer Campers!

Such a plethora of folks have attended summer camp at some point or another in their lives that former summer campers aren’t at all hard to find. And it seems like everywhere you look, in Hollywood especially, you come across summer camp alumni naturally. I’ve written a good number of Blog posts about all the celebrities who have gone to camp and today I come with another—Mr. Samm Levine. Samm Levine is one funny guy and a great actor.

Camp Nah-Jee-Wah is found on 1250 beautiful acres just 90 minutes from New York City. With campgrounds that feature athletic facilities, a lake, a pool, ropes challenge courses, a skate park, and much more, Samm had a wonderful time for his summer camp stay. As early as his days at camp, Samm wasn’t necessarily interested in acting, but he definitely had his heart set on working in comedy.

He went straight to work too, performing standup routines at friends’ Bar Mitzvahs (a Jewish rite of passage) and his jokes were typically received well by the crowds. During one Bar Mitzvah performance in particular, the actress Lisa Kudrow happened to be present and saw his routine. She ended up giving him some advice that he had ought to audition in Manhattan.

By the time he had turned 15, Samm made his first appearance on an episode of the soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ and that was only the beginning. With a different Sam Levine already registered in the Screen Actors Guild, Samm decided he would hang an additional ‘M’ at the end of his name.

He continued with a television and film career, making appearances in shows such as ‘Ed’ and ‘The Drew Carey Show’. But the role that he remains best known for is Neal Schweiber in the short-lived cult classic of 1999, ‘Freaks and Geeks’ in which he played one of the geeks alongside later Golden Globe winner James Franco.

Samm Levine did a lot for his career in his young adolescence and he continues to be a well-received presence in television and film. Check out Camp Nah-Jee-Wah for yourself on their website by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

You Can Get Anything That You Want at Arlo’s Restaurant

Hey, Summer Campers!

You know who else was a summer camper? LOTS of people! So many, in fact, that a sizable percentage of them went on to become famous celebrities. I’ve written about nearly 100 of them! And today I’m talking about another. His name is Arlo Guthrie. This name may not be as famous as it once was, and even yet, not as famous as his father’s name once was: Woody Guthrie—the man that brought us ‘This Land is Your Land’.Arlo goes to summer camp.

With his dad being born in 1912 and him being born in 1947, it’s understandable that kids of your generation aren’t very familiar with these names. But back then, these guys were as big as Justin Vernon is today. These were the celebrities that Bob Dylan idolized.

Summer camp probably wasn’t quite prominent enough to assume that Woody Guthrie ever attended, but he sent his son Arlo to Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks of New York—one of the oldest traditional overnight camps in the country, operating since 1916.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Arlo attended and graduated grade school as well as high school in his home town. But he moved to Massachusetts in 1965 when he attended college at Stockbridge School. After that, he had an adventure overseas, spending the summer in London. There, he met with a man named Karl Dallas who was able to connect Arlo to the folk rock scene in London and he eventually continued in his father’s footsteps, singing folk songs.

Throughout his life, however, he’s continued his education in Montana to attend the Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Next, he moved back home to attend Siena College and after that Westfield College in 2008 (when he was over 60 years old!).

He loves being a student and he loves being a singer/songwriter. He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience award on September 26, 1992, though he’s probably best known for his song ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ which you can listen to below if you think you’re up to it (the song is roughly 20 minutes long and goes off the rails a number of times).

Nurture your love for the interests you develop in life like Arlo did and enjoy your visits to summer camp! You can check out Raquette Lake Camp right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

What Does He Look Like? Some Kinda Jerk?

Hey, Funny Fans!

You know who’s a funny guy?—Steve Martin! This is a name that might not be so familiar to a number of the younger generations, but likely anyone in their 20’s has at least heard the name and if you’re my age, then you understand this name is interchangeable with comedy genius! Steve Martin rings to true as classic comedy thanks to his philisophical approach.

Defunct in the modern day, Steve spent some beautiful summer weeks of his youth soaking in the sun at Camp Osceola on the West Coast. Though he was born in Waco, Texas, 1945, his family moved when he was young and he grew up in Inglewood, California where he didn’t travel far for his trip to camp.

He got his first job when he was 10. He worked sold guidebooks at Disneyland where he would work during his summer breaks from school as well as weekends. While working one day, he was captured on film in the background of somebody’s home movie which went on to be made into a short film called ‘Disneyland Dream’. This happily accounts for Steve’s first film appearance!

He attended Garden Grove High School and after graduating high school he went on to study at the Santa Ana College where he focused on theater and poetry. With a girlfriend’s helpful networking, Steve got a job quickly after college as a writer for ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’.

He also started to make a name for himself in stand-up. Continuing to grind away, his work eventually landed him appearances on ‘Saturday Night Live’. And it didn’t take long for him to hit the big screen. Steve can be seen in the hit film, ‘The Muppet Movie’ and made it real big when he landed his own feature film—the 1979 comedy classic, ‘The Jerk’.

Well known for his role in the ‘Father of the Bride’ movies as well, Steve made a big name for himself. Other talents of his always found their way into his comedy like his great musical inclination and proficiency. An accomplished author, playwright, pianist, and banjo player as well, Steve has actually gone on to embrace his musical passion these days.

Check him out singing with the great Bernadette Peters in this great scene from ‘The Jerk’ below and, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks!

- John

Mister Wolf Blitzer

Hey, Summer Campers!

We all get our news from one source if not another. Some people still do the old school method of reading a newspaper while lots of other folks have turned to reading their news online in the last 10 to 20 years. Still, televised news remains America’s most popular means of catching the news around the world along with the local weather report. To anyone who regularly tunes into the prominent news network CNN, you’ll likely recognize today’s summer camp celebrity—Wolf Blitzer.Get your Blitz on with who else but the Wolf!

Wolf attended summer camp at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. The same camp that Marta Kauffman attended—the co-creator of the hit 90’s sitcom ‘Friends’—Camp Ramah is just south of the eastern New York and Pennsylvania border. It’s sat on 90 acres of northeastern Pennsylvania for nearly 70 years. This mountainous and woodsy setting provided Wolf with a space to expand his experiences that develop personal growth.

Born to Holocaust survivors, Cesia and David Blitzer, Wolf’s parents were Auschwitz refugees.  Though he was born in Augsburg, Germany, Wolf was raised in Buffalo, New York. Having graduated from Kenmore West Senior High School and then attended and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in history.

Wolf’s education didn’t end there, however. He went on to attend the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies where he received a Master of Arts in international relations. During his time there, he studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and learned the Hebrew language.

Now with his Masters degree, Wolf began his journalism career immediately after completing his education, working for a news agency where his talents did not go unnoticed. He eventually continued on to other places of employment, but his writing focused on a Middle East affairs from a United States foreign policy perspective. Bringing great changes throughout his career, Wolf actually inspired the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979.

While many assume that Wolf’s name is a pseudonym for television, the truth is that his last name dates back for generations and he actually shares his first name with his grandfather from his mother’s side. Find the same kind of experiences that led to Wolf Blitzer’s personal growth in his youth when you head off to summer camp and check out Camp Ramah for yourself right here. As always, thanks for reading, Everybody!

- John

Cohen went to Camp

Hey, Camp People!

Lots of folks who were once summer campers like yourselves have gone on to become celebrities whose names are popular in our very own households. I’ve written about nearly 100 famous folks so far who have roots in the summer camp community. Another name to add to our ongoing list is Leonard Cohen. I was waiting for the miracle to come.

He was 10 years old when he set off for his summer camp stay at Camp Hiawatha near Montreal. There he had a fine time in the mid 1940’s running around among the Canadian wilderness and enjoying friends that were his age. And even back then, Leonard had taken an interest in writing.

Born and raised in the Canadian town of Westmount, Quebec, Leonard, throughout his life, would become a singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter. And, though he is most known for his musical career, he aimed to be a poet and novelist from his days as a teenager until his early 30’s. In fact, he didn’t do anything with music until he turned 33 years old.

He completed his elementary and high school education throughout enrollment in three different schools—the Roslyn Elementary School, Herzliah High School, as well as Westmount High School. He was very involved in extra-curricular activities in his later days of high school and he developed a great interest in studying music as well as poetry.

By 1951, Leonard started college at McGill University, where he became president of the debate team. He also won the Chester MacNaghten Literary Competition for his poems “Sparrows” and “Thoughts of a Landsman.” He published his first poems in a magazine by the spring of 1954. Around this time, he also taught himself to play acoustic guitar and he formed a folk group called ‘Buckskin Boys’.

Things went on this way for more than ten years, using writing for his main source of income and playing music for fun. But Leonard, becoming increasingly discouraged with his low income as a writer, decided one day in 1967 that he would move to the United States in an attempt to pursue a career as a folk music singer/songwriter.

Consequently, Leonard’s writing started to diminish with fewer publications and long gaps between them as he concentrated more and more of his energy on writing and recording songs. Networking with other big names of the time like Lou Reed and David Bowie, Leonard discovered a certain amount of marketability for his own music and it wasn’t long until he created an image and a name for himself.

With his own roots in summer camp, patience and desire brought Leonard Cohen a life of fulfillment that the world can now enjoy. What will grow from the roots you stretch at summer camp? As always, thanks for reading.

- John

Punky “Who”—ster?

Hey, Summer Campers!

Famous former summer campers are all over the place. Many celebrities in the music and film industries have their own summer memories from their camp days. Some we know by their songs and others we love to watch on the big screen. Plenty of television stars have gone to summer camp as well. Soleil Moon Frye was once a summer camSoleil Moon Frye was a hit with the children audience.per just like yourselves back when she was closer to your age.

Attending Cottontail Ranch Camp in Malibu Canyon of California, Soleil—named after the sun (pronounced like So-lay)—has her own summer memories of the 2600 acres of the neighboring State Park and four-mile trips to Malibu Beach. But even before her days at camp, she was in the business.

She showed signs of interest in acting when she was only two years old and she saw her father and brother on TV. Her father got her an agent. Her mother became her manager. And by the time Soleil turned 8, she had been in five made-for-TV movies! But she really made it big when she landed the role of Penelope “Punky” Brewster at the young age of eight as well.

“Punky Brewster” never got the greatest ratings, however, the character of Punky became a huge hit with young children the world over.
Penelope "Punky" Brewster was her hit role. She attended a private high school in the San Fernando Valley as well as New School University in New York for a year.

Soleil was childhood friends with Ms. Melissa Joan Hart (a.k.a. Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and she ended up playing the role of Sabrina’s best friend, Roxie King. Aside from her successful television career, Soleil has also appeared in a number of movies. She even directed a film called “Wild Horses” and she wrote a screenplay about a group of high schoolers who have strange encounters in a cafe.

Have a blast at Cottontail Ranch Camp like Soleil! You can check it out for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!

- John

From Camp to Country

Hey there, Summer Campers!

We talk about so many celebrities who were once summer campers like yourselves, but instead today, I have someone who never went asThis country music singer/songwriter is a former summer camper as well! a camper. She was, however, a cabin leader for a handful of years at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Georgia. I’m talking about country music singer, songwriter, and actress, Jennifer Nettles.

Next to the Oconee National Forest, Rock Eagle Camp boasts 1500 acres of gorgeous woodsy land with a 110-acre lake named after the camp. While she may have been at a different juncture in her life than most folks are when they encounter the summer camp experience, it was just as influential for her when she went as a cabin leader.

Her passion in life—singing—drew her to Rock Eagle Camp like a magnet as she was a member of their Clovers & Company performing arts group for six years prior. She was also involved in tons of extracurricular activities between school assemblies, community theater, and her Southern Baptist church in the small town of Douglas, Georgia.

She graduated from Coffee High School and moved on to Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, studying Sociology as well as Anthropology. It was during her college years that she made a productive move with her music, partnering up with one Cory Jones—a University of Georgia student of classical guitar—to form the acoustic duo Soul Miner’s Daughter. They put out two albums together.

After college, she continued her musical career in her early 20’s, forming the Jennifer Nettles Band. The band, consisting of Brad Sikes on the drums, Scott Nicholson playing piano, Wesley Lupold playing bass, Mike Cebulski on percussion, and—of course—Jennifer, put out five albums altogether.

In 2003, Jennifer formed Sugarland with Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush to push her career beyond what she had been able to do yet. Three years later, Sugarland was nominated for a Gammy award for Best New Artist.

She most recently made her acting debut in NBC’s made-for-TV-movie, ‘Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors’ in which she played the role of Dolly Parton’s mother and then played another role in the following year on the hit series ‘Underground’. Following her dreams, Jennifer has found incredible success throughout her life. What successes will you find throughout your life? Be sure to check out Rock Eagle Camp in Georgia if it sounds like the right camp for you and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John