Stage Door; Mandy Manor

Hey, Campers!

With countless numbers of kids going to summer camp for more than a hundred years, there are literally millions of adults who were former summer campers when they weThis phenominal actress has been phenominal about it for almost her whole children. It’s not surprising to discover then, that lots of former campers went on to become celebrities that we all know and love today.

I’ve told you about Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, alumni of the wonderful Stage Door Manor Camp. You can check out a Blog post about Zach Braff right right—and one about Natalie Portman right here. And for today’s post, we’ll learn of another Stage Door Manor alum who attended around the same time: Mandy Moore.

Sited in a former resort in the Catskills Borscht Belt in Loch Sheldrake, New York, Stage Door Manor provides awesome venues for its campers to get the experience of being on the stage, in the spotlight. Spending three weeks of her summer among Stage Door Manor’s awesome theatre spaces like the Carousel, the Cabaret, the Forum, the Merman, and the outdoor Garden Theatre, Mandy was inspired at a young age to see out a career in acting.

The granddaughter of Eileen Friedman, a professional ballerina from London, Mandy looked up to her grandmother as a strong source of inspiration to follow her dreams of stardom. “My parents thought it was just a phase I’d grow out of, but I stuck to it and begged them for acting lessons, for voice lessons,” Mandy is quoted to have said.

She didn’t just giver full effort to her lessons, but she immediately went to plugging herself and before long she was starring in a number of productions around town and singing the National Anthem at local sporting events.

When she was 13, she started writing her own music and she was overheard performing by a FedEx delivery employee who had a friend at a record company. The delivery man took a demo of Mandy’s unfinished demo to send to his friend and before she knew it, Mandy was signing a record label.

After launching a music career, Mandy entered into her acting career as well, bringing to the screen great characters from memorable movies like the ‘Princess Diaries’ and ‘A Walk to Remember’, and doing fun voicework for movies like the ‘Dr. Dolittle’ sequel, the ‘Brother Bear’ sequel, as well as the Disney hit, ‘Tangled’.

Most recently, she now stars in the NBC family comedy-drama television series, ‘This Is Us’ as Rebecca Pearson, the mother of the family. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in 2016. Staying dedicated to her passion sure has paid off for Mandy. Her summer camp experience surely helped ignite the flames. If Stage Door Manor sounds like the camp for your kid, you can check it out right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

What’s the Temperature?

Hey, Camp Fans!

Learning to be True to Your Heart is a great lesson that kids pick up at The Gift of summer camp. Is it any surprise that kids love going to camp ever since the mid-1800s—and Still?! Many adults nowadays are former summer campers themselves and a bunch of them have gone on to become famous icons. It’s my pleasure today to tell you about Mr. Drew Lachey of the hit group 98 Degrees. Learn about this 98 degrees member at his experience at camp.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Drew attended the Clovernook Elementary School in North College Hill—a suburb of Cincinnati. He moved on to the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in the Cincinnati, Ohio Public School District.

While he didn’t attend summer camp in his childhood, he worked at one as a cabin leader at the age of 16. He spent two fun-filled weeks on the shore of Lake Fairlee, looking after the summer campers of Camp Billings and building an appreciation for the beauty surrounding him in the green hills of Vermont.

After his time working as a cabin leader at Camp Billings, Drew got involved in several interesting career paths before finding himself in a musical group. He found work behind the counter of a delicatessen. He trained to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and served as one in New York City. And he went on after that to be a combat medic in the U.S. Army.

Along with his older brother, Nick, and their friends Justin Jeffre, and Jeff Timmons, the four of them formed the pop group 98 Degrees and achieved nationwide success.

No stranger to television appearances, Drew showed up on one of the ‘Hollywood Squares’ in 2001 and has had a handful of guest appearances on Nick’s MTV show ‘Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica’. He was also the winner of the second season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.

If you’re interested in Camp Billings for yourself, you can check out their website right here. Even working at summer camp is a positive experience! Maybe you’d make a great cabin leader for some local camp. As always, thanks for reading.

- John


Hey, Summer Campers!

Summer camp is nothing new. Boatloads of kids have been attending camps for more than 150 years! So it’s really not that surprising to discover former summer campers. They’re virtually everywhere you look. That’s why it’s fun to discover famous folks who were once summer campers as well. From musicians, to actors, writers, and athleCheck out the backstory of this great football player.tes, lots of former campers have gone on to achieve great fame.

James Ihedigbo is a football player in the NFL. A sought after player, he’s made a name for himself playing for the Jets, the Patriots, the Ravens, the Lions, and now he’s been signed by the Buffalo Bills. A skilled safety, James is an obvious advantage to any team’s defense. But before he ever thought seriously about a career in football, he attended Pinebrook Camp in his home state of Massachusetts.

Located 35 miles north of Springfield, Pinebrook Camp presented James with the time of his life when he attended a summer stay there. The experience immersed him in the adventures of exploring the outdoors. In all these years, he still has the most fun when he’s playing outside. He played a lot of football back then. Wait—no, that’s not right.

Back then he played a lot of fútbol. That’s it. Soccer—as we call it in the States. He was pretty good too. And his dad loved to encourage him. But when he graduated grade school and started his enrollment at Amherst Regional High School, he took interest in a different sport.

James’ father didn’t like it when he started playing football. He wanted to see James stick with soccer. Still, like any good dad, he cheered his son on at the high school football games and it didn’t take long for him to come around to his son’s new favorite sport.

James went on to play for the University of Massachusetts from 2002 till 2006. With his performance as a UMass Minuteman, it wasn’t hard to get a professional team to sign him. Summer camp helped encourage James to find what he really enjoyed. What will summer camp show you? You can check out Pinebrook Camp for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Camp sparked acting interest for Bill Paxton

Hey, Camp Fans!

Anywhere you look, it’s never difficult to find a former summer camper; they’re all over the place—which explains why there are so many famous celebrities who are former summer campers as well. Mr. Bill Paxton, is one of many Hollywood actors who spent some time at camp back in the day.Bill Paxton is on tons of stuff.

Long before he was ever known for his roles as the famed treasure hunter, Brock Lovett from ‘Titanic’ or the passion-driven storm chaser, Bill Harding from ‘Twister’, Bill was just a typical kid, born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas.

His father was a successful businessman, museum executive, occasional actor, and more, so money was never a concern growing up. His parents were able to build the house of their dreams along the country club golf course when Bill was only 8. Despite the wealth of money that Bill grew up with, he was raised to earn his money.

Resourcefully, Bill would spend his days collecting all the lost golf balls he could find. Then he’d set up lemonade stands and sell the golf ballThere he is! See him?!s back to the golfers.

In the same year, Bill went with his parents to join the crowds of people who waited for President John F. Kennedy from his hotel in Texas on the morning of his assassination. In a photograph that morning, 8-year-old Bill can be seen, being raised above the crowd!

He never actually attended summer camp AS a camper, but when he was a teenager he worked in the Carolinas at Mondamin Camp, near East Flat Rock. His town would put on an annual play of ‘Look Homeward, Angel’ by Thomas Wolfe at the Flat Rock Playhouse. “That’s when I first started thinking about acting and filmmaking,” Bill said in an interview with Southern Living magazine.

Summer camp has a tendency of delivering these transformative types of experiences that end up guiding us in our lives. It certainly did for Bill. What experiences will it offer you? You can look into Camp Mondamin right here if you’re interested in it for your own camp experience and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Guess where this Mama went to camp

Hey, Summer Campers!

In this chilling autumn season, it’s not uncommon for northerners and folks on the upper east coast to do some California Dreamin’. Ever wish you could Go Where You Wanna Go and not just for the weekend, but Monday Monday and any other day of the week? An east coaster herself, Ellen Naomi Cohen dreamt of warm California too, or should I say Cass Elliot, as she changed her name to? Dream of little dream of Cass Elliott

Well, you probably know her best as Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas anyway. She didn’t have California, but she had Camp Louise of Airy & Louise. Earlier this month, I posted about another former Louise camper, Shari Lewis—the voice of Lamb Chop (you can check out that post right here).

These brother/sister camps are located just a few miles away from each other in the Catoctin Mountains of western Maryland, Airy and Louise, each camp stretches out about 400 acres to display natural beauty along with the camps’ prided rustic facilities.

Some time after her camp experience, Cass’ family moved to a town called Alexandria in Virginia. She enrolled in George Washington High School, where she attended classes alongside rock legend Jim Morrison of The Doors. It was here, in her high school days that she adopted the name ‘Cass’. It wasn’t until later, however, that she would assume the surname ‘Elliot’ in memory of a friend of hers who died.

It was also in high school that she took interest in the art of acting. She was cast in a school play and really got into it. She moved to New York City after her high school days to further a career in acting (as mentioned in the biographical Mamas and Papas song ‘Creeque Alley’).

Cass searched the inflating folk music scene, watchful for where she might fit in until she stumbled upon two fellows, John Phillips and Denny Doherty, who had formed a group called the The New Journeymen. They knew they needed a new name with two females joining their group. A call to women as ‘mamas’ on television inspired Cass and Michele (the other lady in the band) to shout goofily, ‘We’re the mamas, we’re the mamas.’ John looked at Denny who was quietly saying, ‘The Papas?’

Incredibly famous in their day, The Mamas and the Papas went on to exceed greatness, but Cass in particular was always the star vocal in the group. After The Mamas and the Papas, she continued an impressive solo career with so much to offer the world. Check out the video of her beautiful serenading below and, as always, thanks for reading!

-    John

Lamb Chop out of Camp Louise!

Hey, Camp Kids!

At Everything Summer Camp, we look far and wide to see what famous folks also turn out to be former summer campers and, so far, we’ve posted about more than 80 people! Shari Lewis was a definite must when we saw she a former camper! Her name may not be immediately recognizable to everyone, but we all know her for her adorable sock puppet character, Lamb Chop!Shari Lewis will forever live on in our hearts!

A professional children’s entertainer all her life—before embarking on her road to fame and fortune, she spent her summer days at Camp Louise of Airy & Louise. Located just a few miles away from each other in the Catoctin Mountains of western Maryland, Airy and Louise, each camp stretches out about 400 acres that display natural beauty along with the camps’ prided rustic facilities.

Shari was encouraged from a very young age to practice in the performing trade. Her father, who practiced as an incredibly successful magician, taught her magic tricks when she was 13. But she didn’t stop there. She also learned a bit in acrobatics, juggling, ice-skating, baton-twirling, and she learned to play piano as well as violin. It was an instructor name John W. Cooper who taught her the art of ventriloquism.

She went on to study piano and violin at New York’s High School of Music and Art and she took dance classes at the American School of Ballet. She also took acting classes with a group called Sanford Meisner in the ‘Neighborhood Playhouse’ association. After she finished high school, she registered for a classes at Barnard College, but she only stayed a year.

Instead of continuing school, she took her chance then and there to pursue a career in show business. When she was 19, she won first prize for a talent show on CBS’ ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts’. This launched her into gigs hosting a handful of children’s television series in New York.

It didn’t take long before Lamb Chop was introduced to the world on an episode of ‘Captain Kangaroo’. With a number of other characters in her stockpile, Shari was ready to debut her very own kids show—‘The Shari Lewis Show’ in 1960. It replaced ‘The Howdy Doody Show’.

She appeared in lots of other shows among the years, but she finally hit it big in the early 90’s with her Emmy-winning show ‘Lamb Chop’s Play Along’ on PBS. She passed away in the summer of 1998. The world misses Shari Lewis and the wonderful talent and hysterical antics she brought to the world of children’s entertainment. You can check out Camp Louise right here. Check out a clip of ‘The Shari Lewis Show’ below and, as always, thanks for reading!

-    John

Al was no Athlete..

Hey, Summer Campers!

In the month premiering the autumn season, I thought I’d write a couple sports-related Celebrities at Summer Camp posts. In the first week of October, I wrote about legendary sports writer, Seth Davis. I picked another Davis for the post today—we’re talking about Al Davis, the previous coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. The principal owner and general manager spanning 39 years, Al certainly left a piece of himself in this football team.
Al Davis sure knew how to get what he wanted.
No longer with us, Al lived a long, full life—starting all the way back to the beginning. He was born on the Fourth of July in Brockton, Massachusetts, 1929. Attending Camp Roosevelt in New York, he spent his summer days making friends and putting together basketball games. And, despite his strong affiliation with the world of football today, at that age, he was passionate about basketball.

His desire to play basketball followed him into his high school days when he met Coach Al Badain from Erasmus Hall High School. Turns out, despite his love for the game, Al just wasn’t very good at basketball. Coach Badain barely played him and, instead, Al spent a lot of time on the bench, studying Badain’s coaching technique.

Though he continuously proved himself to be unimpressive as an athlete throughout his college days at both Wittenburg College in Ohio as well as Syracuse Univ., he started gaining lots of interest in the strategy in football. He’d hang out on the football field during practice drills and never missed a game. He even took a couple academic courses for football strategy—classes only ever attended by football players.

To make up for his athletic inability, Al discovered an admittedly arrogant and brash side of his personality that he effectively used to aid his climb to a coaching career in a sport that he had no experience playing. It’s kind of like the opposite of charm—but Al made it work for himself. After graduation, he went for a position on a college football coaching staff.

After a personal meeting with the president of  Hofstra University, he had the position. With his foot in the door and coaching experience, he set his sights on the professional world next. Al struck after the worst year of a team’s history—Oakland Raiders in 1962. They lost their first 13 games and Al gladly stepped in to replace Red Conkright as head coach.

His motto for the team became “Just win, baby” and under his passionate coaching, the Raiders became one of the most successful teams in the entire league. He remained on the coaching staff far into his old age. Al passed away five years ago. Al did what he loved. What will you do? As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Seth Davis thought camp was the Greatest!

Hey, Summer Campers!

We all know camp is popular, but did you know that more than 11 million folks go to summer camp every year? That’s A LOT of people! And since seemingly everybody and their mothers went to summer camp at some point, it’s not surprising toLearn about sports world writer and former summer camper, Seth Davis. discover the loads upon loads of famous celebrities who were once summer campers just like you.

While some former summer campers like Lady Gaga or Chevy Chase go on to achieve super-stardom the world over, other celebrities are stars within their own realms. Seth Davis is a name well known among the sports writing community. He’s a sports columnist, author, and former summer camper.

He attended Camp Equinunk in Pennsylvania, beside the Pocono Mountains where he enjoyed 400 beautiful acres of fields and wooded trails shared with the sister camp, Camp Blue Ridge. The camps are separated by the camp-owned 75-acre private spring-fed lake.

Born in Potomac, Maryland, Seth went to the Bullis School which covered elementary grades through to twelfth grade. He then went on to graduate from Duke University in 1992 and directly pursued a career in sports writing. Having written as a sports columnist for his university’s daily campus newspaper, ‘The Chronicle’, it seemed only a natural path to follow.

He landed a position at Sports Illustrated covering stories including the NFL, NBA, college basketball, as well as local high school sports. But Seth had more to say than what he could do in a sports column.

He wasn’t done talking about summer camp!

So he wrote a book that was published in 2003 called ‘Equinunk, Tell Your Story: My Return to Summer Camp’ that talks about what camp meant to him. It meant enough that he went back to camp to be a cabin leader back in the day.

You can check out his book right here. Summer camp led Seth to the freedom to do what he loved for a living. Where will it lead you? As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Tré Cool is very soigné!

Hey, Camp Fans!

Lots of kids have been hitchin’ a ride to summer camp since the mid-1800s. Many adults nowadays are former summer campers themselves and a bunch of them have gone on to become famous icons. It’s my pleasure today to tell you a little about a guy named Tré Cool—drummer for the insanely popular alternative punk band, Green Day. Tre Cool is one of the world's most celebrated drummers!

Tré was given a warm welcome to paradise among the beautiful, rolling foothills of Camp Winnarainbow in Mendocino County, California. There, Tré and his camp buddies learned the tricks of the circus trade, specializing in the performing arts of the circus. From circus etiquette to balance training—and don’t forget the ticket to perfect timing—is all taught by the well-trained staff of Winnarainbow.

Back then, he wasn’t known as Tré, but Frankie—as in Frank Edwin Wright III. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany to American parents and he grew up in Willits, California. But it didn’t take long for him to go by the moniker Tré Cool.

At just 12 years old, Tré’s next-door neighbor, Larry Livermore, asked him to join as the drummer in his new band, ‘The Lookouts’. Once he was in the band, Larry gave him the nickname which combined French (trés—for ‘very’) and English so as to say that he was ‘very cool’.

Tré opted to earn is GED instead of finishing high school and got an early start on classes at his local community college. Around this time, Green Day’s original drummer, John Kiffmeyer, left the band and they called Tré for his drumming skills. It took a long while for the band and Tré to fall in sync. So long, that the band discussed breaking up. “It took me a while to get it,” Tré has been quoted. “Play the song, don’t play the instrument.”

Luckily, the band stuck with it and they ended up a huge success! Tré’s dad played a big role of support for the band. He even turned a bookmobile into a means of transport that the band could use. “I watched them go from a bunch of kids to a group of musicians with work ethic,” Tré’s father once said.

Among many other awards and sources of recognition, Tré is thought of as one of the world’s top drummers, right up there with Ringo Starr and Dave Grohl. In fact, he was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Tré followed a bumpy road that led to super success. What road will you follow? As always, thanks for reading.

- John

Radio Lady Gaga

Hey, Camp Kids!

Summer camp has only increased in popularity since its well-received beginnings in 1861. It spread across the country like wildfire and kids of all different upbringings were brought together to make summer memories of a lifetime. As camp popularity grew, the amount of summer camp alumni grew too. There are so many former summer campers around nowadays and some went on to become famous.Baby, she was born this way.

We all know Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. What’s that? The name doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe you know her better as Lady Gaga.

Anyway, before she was known by her professional persona, Stefani attended the YMCA Camp Hi-Rock in Massachusetts. Located on a thousand acres in the Berkshire Mountains, Hi-Rock campers enjoy a home away from home, set aside from the rest of the world with heavy foliage and their crystal clear, private lake of 90 acres!

Back then in her camp days, Stefani was just as interested in the theater as she was in music. Following her interest into her high school days, she appeared in high school plays and when she attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she studied at CAP21 to further her training in theater.

She also had a lifelong passion for music. She started playing the piano when she was four, she wrote her first ballad for piano when she was thirteen, and by the time she was fourteen, she was performing her music at local open mic nights.

Still interested in music in her college days, Stefani formed a band with friends from school—the Stefani Germanotta Band. All their shows eventually brought her some attention and she found herself working with her music producer—Rob Fusari. She traveled to New Jersey every day to record songs she had written and collaborate on new material.

Mr. Fusari explains the origin of Stefani’s stage name saying, “Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing ‘Radio Ga Ga’” (the song from the British rock band of the 70’s—Queen). When sending her trademark song name in a text one day, Rob’s phone autocorrected ‘Radio’ to ‘Lady’ and he sent the text without noticing. Predictably, Stefani responded, “That’s it! Don’t ever call me Stefani again.”

Stefa—I mean…Lady Gaga—rose to fame nearly overnight after her first album, The Fame, and she’s only continued to make music that increases her fan following. Lady Gaga found a path of wild success through her passion for self expression. What path will you find? You can check out Camp Hi-Rock for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading. And check out the video below of the song that inspired Ms. Gaga’s moniker.

- John