Robert Downey Junior, Mandy Moore and Natalie Portman may not seem the type to share anything in common, but a quick look into their past reveals that they all favoured a particular holiday pastime: summer camps. In fact, they’re only three of a rather impressive, and certainly extensive list of celebrities who honed their skills for the dramatic in a few weeks of fun every year. Some of them attended camp as youngsters, whereas other household names spent time working as counsellors and instructors. But whatever their individual experiences were, they’ve all come out in praise of summer camps, and the entertainment that can be had at them. And more importantly, they often demonstrate the true value that can be found at camps, where children, and adults, can develop lifelong skills and discover more about themselves.
Denzel Washington came to find himself part of a summer camp program as an adult. He signed up to work as a counsellor while he was studying at Fordham University, one of New York’s best known places of higher learning. It was during a time of uncertainty about his future, but it quickly proved to be the best choice he’d made to date. At the camp he took part in a talent competition, in a rather impromptu entry. It was the acclaim he received from that, and the fun that he’d enjoyed taking part, that drove him to audition for mainstream roles when summer camp was over. The rest, as they say, is history.
Prince Albert of Monaco
While attending camp clearly didn’t help his Royal Highness achieve his status as a member of royalty, it’s interesting to see that summer camps are considered to be worthwhile pursuits for people from all walks of life. In fact, the Prince was so taken with his chosen summer camp that when he became too old to visit as a camper, he chose to dedicate a further six summers to his favourite holiday destination as a counsellor, passing on the skills he’d learnt during his formative years there.
Former President of the United States was also a fan of summer camps. His particular passion was for music, and he developed his skills as a saxophone player at one such vacation venue. His daughter, Chelsea, has taken up the slack where daddy left off, and demonstrated her own passion for summer activities. And they’re not the only example of children following in the footsteps of their parents when it comes to signing up to summer school.
Star of the basketball court, world famous Michael Jordan was once very much unknown, but it’s no surprise that the camps he chose to attend were all centred on his favourite sport. It was thanks to all those extra weeks of hard work he put in that helped elevate his playing to a standard that catapulted him into the spotlight and made him a household name. Interestingly, Michael Jordan put such an emphasis on the benefit of those camps that he’s started his own basketball summer schools in the hope that someone else can find the same success that he enjoyed, with just a little bit extra help.
The model may be most famous for her poses and pin-up shoots, but this glamorous girl was a bit of a nerd when it came to her favourite subject at school – science. Her summers were taken up at a Science Camp, a summer version of educational school trips, where the days were spent learning about atoms and concocting hazardous formulae. Not exactly what you’d expect perhaps, from someone who went on to grace the pages of glossy magazines.
Byline: Fiona Galloway is a travel writer who writes about school trips around the world.