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

You’ve Got a Friend..

Hey, Camp Fans!

The world is certainly camp crazy. From singer/songwriters to famous athletes and big-name Hollywood stars, it seems EVERYONE goes to camp! Writers—such as myself—are no exception. I, however, am not famous. Marta Kauffman, on the other hand, is a name that lots of people know. Co-creator of the hit sitcom ‘Friends’, Marta Kauffman is responsible for a cultural craze that became popular the world over.

Check out where this Friend of everyone's went to summer camp.Long before Marta joined forces with David Crane—her co-creator of ‘Friends’—she attended summer camp at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. This camp has sat on 90 acres of northeastern Pennsylvania for nearly 70 years as it saw its beginning as a camp site in the year 1950. This mountainous and woodsy setting provided Marta with a space where she work on personal growth by means of fun activities and adventures, as well as friends to share the experiences.

She went to school at Marple Newtown High School near Philadelphia and became incredibly interested in acting—so much so that in her senior year, she directed her school’s production of ‘Our Town’, a play from 1938 by Thornton Wilder. She enjoyed her own independent studies when it came to the works of playwrights and had a great appreciation for the talent for acting.

After high school, she attended Brandeis University where she continued her dedicated study to the Theater. And after four years of hard work and relentless studying, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree and went on to pursue a writing career in the world of television.

Starting with a single episode of ‘Everything’s Relative’ in 1987, Marta continued to work on quick single-episode jobs as well as co-creating a few different series. It took her seven years in TV until she and David Crane launched their breakthrough series, ‘Friends’. Their show reached enormous popularity and ran for an entire decade before hitting their widely-celebrated finale.

Marta kept up her writing career after ‘Friends’ and has remained busy to the present day with her current TV show ‘Grace and Frankie’. Camp Ramah put Marta on an awesome and determined path that stuck with her all throughout her life. Perhaps Camp Ramah sounds like a good match for your soon-to-be-camper. Check them out on their website right here and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Another French Woods Alum

Hey, Summer Campers!

Summer camps have been showing kids the time of their lives for generations upon generations—over a hundred years. That means that there are literally millions of adults  out there who were once summer campers like you. It’s not really surprising then, to think that there are lots of celebrities whom we all know and love today who went to summer camp themselves. Natasha Lyonne is a talented lady.

Natasha Lyonne is one of those famous people who attended summer camp. Like a number of her contemporaries like Jon Favreau, Robert Downy Jr., Adam Levine, and Zooey Deschanel, she went to French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in the western Catskills—possibly even at the same time as these other alumni.

She was born in New York City and raised Orthodox Jewish. Natasha’s grandparents on her mother’s side were Hungarian Jewish and—both—Holocaust survivors.

Her parents started her at 6 years old in business with the Ford Modeling Agency and she made her way into TV and films. She was cast as Opal for six episodes of ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse’ and went on to make appearances in movies like ‘Heartburn,’ ‘A Man Called Sarge,’ and ‘Dennis the Menace’.

In retrospect, she disagrees with her parents’ choice to start her in business at such a young age, but it didn’t last long. Two years later, they moved from Great Neck, New York to Israel and they lived there for a year and a half.

She never cared for growing up on the Upper East Side, so when she came back to the states with her family, they settled in Miami. She was an excellent student enrolled in honor classes, but when her parents got a divorce, it had a horribly negative effect on her school life resulting in eventual expulsion. She did, however, graduate from Miami Country Day School.

With other appearances on TV like her camp mate’s show ‘New Girl’ as well as ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Law & Order’. She’s even dabbled in some voice work for an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ as well as Cartoon Network’s hit show ‘Steven Universe’. She flexed her voice work back in 2005 as Loretta Geargrinder for the feature film ‘Robots’.

Having received a nomination for the 2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, Natasha has really shown her acting muscle and the world recognizes her talent.

Throughout struggles and hardships in her life, she’s seen her way to the road for success. Summer camp can help you do that. How will summer camp help you? You can check out French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Sara Gilbert at Summer Camp

Hey, Camp Fans!

At Everything Summer Camp, we look far and wide to see what famous celebrities happen to also be former summer campers. So far, we’ve posted about 90 celebrities! When we discovered that Sara Gilbert had gone to camp, we knew we wanted to mention her on the Blog! She’s best know for her role as Darlene Conner on the very popular 90’s sitcom from ABC, ‘Rosanne’.Sara Gilbert from Roseanne went to summer camp.

Sara attended Interlochen Center for the Arts which is famous for graduating top students in dance, theater, music, and art. Located in the beautiful northwestern region of lower Michigan, Sara spent her summer days soaking in the summer sun as it beat down on 1,200 acres, nestled between two lakes.

One day when she was six her older sister, Melissa, got a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and she decided that day that she would be an actress. But she had talent all over the board. She developed a great interest in photography alongside her visual art. She was a skilled writer as well.

She landed some appearances in several made-for-TV-movies and she did a commercial for Kool-Aid as a kid. And by the time she was 13, she got the role of Darlene, the middle child in ‘Roseanne’. She became a crucial character in the show and Sara received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her performance. She even wrote one of the stories for an episode in the fourth season of the show.

The production of ‘Roseanne’ was happy to work around the schedule demanded by her education as she simultaneously continued her education, and eventually attending Yale University (from which she graduated in 1997 with honors, majoring in Art with an emphasis on Photography).

Since her days on ‘Roseanne’, she has gone on to make appearances on select episodes of shows like ‘The Simpsons’, ‘24’, ‘Law & Order: SVU’, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, and more. A wonderful actress, Sara had summer camp help show her her own potential. What will summer camp show you? And, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Jessica Biel and the Summer Camp Feel

Hey, Campers!

Countless campers just like you have been relishing in the joys of summer camp for more than a hundred years. Literally millions of adults who were once summer campers when they were closer to your age. It comes as no surprise then, tRead about her and her time at camp.o know that there are a lot of former summer campers who have gone on to become celebrities whom we all know and love today.

Jessica Biel is a summer camp alum. She attended Perry-Mansfield: Performing Arts School and Camp. Located in the mountains of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Perry-Mansfield has been showing kids a first-rate education as well as an awesome summer experience since it was first founded in 1913.

Jessica didn’t necessarily know that she wanted to be an actress back then. She was interested in gymnastics and soccer as well. But she definitely knew she wanted to be on the stage. She was coached in the art of singing at Perry-Mansfield and liked to do musicals in the productions her hometown would put on. At just nine years old, she had already played lead roles in ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and more.

She made money as a model for a while as well, but was most happy when she landed her first role in a film called, ‘It’s a Digital World’. It wasn’t long after that that she found the role that would really launch her acting career: Mary Camden  from the family drama ‘7th Heaven’. Throughout her time on the Warner Brothers show, she went to school at Fairview High School and continued her education afterward at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

‘7th Heaven’ was a very popular show which turned out to be the longest-running family drama TV series in all of television. Her role as Mary brought her lots of recognition and interest for roles in film. Her character on TV only scratched the surface of her career. If Perry-Mansfield sounds like a place you have interest in, check it out for yourself right here and see the good it did Jessica Biel. And, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

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