The New Arcadians: supplements
Snakes, square knots, pocket knives, and poison ivy. An ethnography of boy scouts at summer camp
and the making of a young naturalist.
In addition to fertile ground for "coming of age" comedies and horror films, summer camps are one of the last places where young people can have intimate experiences with wild nature. Among their first, these experiences in nature will continue to influence them for the rest of their lives. The title of this series borrows its name from the wilderness of Greek mythology and the pastoral landscapes of the English romantics, who re-visioned Arcadia as a place where nature and civilization finally found a way of living together in harmony. The project represents my desire to learn more about the origins of my adult life as a naturalist and member of the deep ecology movement, all of which are deeply rooted in my early experiences as a boy scout. Through the work, I am discovering how the influence of American Indian mythologies, early American naturalists such as Henry David Thoreau, and Theodore Roosevelt's taste for wilderness are strongly reflected in the forms and ceremonies of scouting to this day. Summer camps uphold the principled belief that to make a better citizen out of a young person, you must also make them a better woodsman.