Under Pressure

24 Jun

One thing I’ve come to really like about traveling is that it gives me a couple hours to get deep into whatever book I’m reading.

(Yeah, look at me, turning into a regular bookworm.)

This weekend I flew to New York for my second cousin’s bris, and by the time I landed back in Boston Sunday night, I was more than halfway done with my new book, Cabin Pressure, by Josh Wolk.

I’ve long enjoyed Wolk’s writing — he’s a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, and among other things, he writes the Real World morning-after recaps — so when I heard he had written a book about his return to summer camp, I just had to pick it up.

There’s not much more plot than that: The summer before his wedding, when he was 34-years-old, Josh decided to return to his boyhood summer home as a counselor as a way to say a final farewell to his childhood memories, and to his childhood in general.

To say the book hits close to home with me is an understatement.

For eight years (one of them as a junior counselor), I spent my summers at Camps Kenwood/Evergreen up in New Hampshire. Can’t say I have the most idyllic memories of my time there, and in fact, the summer I was a junior counselor was one of the worst summers of my life.

But despite that, camp still holds a fond place of honor in my heart.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to take the two-hour drive up to Potter Place to see how the place has changed in the 16 years since I was last there. I’m unsure why I still have yet to do it. Suffice it to say, Cabin Pressure only makes me long to see the ballfields and bunks that much more.

For Josh, camp was magical, and he rhapsodizes about his experiences there with all the enthusiasm of a kid talking about his favorite pet. So much so that in his earlier chapters, he’s lamenting how things have changed.

But it’s a testament to the place — and to Josh’s writing — that it soon becomes clear the more things change, the more they stay the same.

How fun it is to read about meals in the dining hall, staff talent shows, bug juice, rat tails, random trips to random natural “wonders” (his natural water slides place sounds vaguely like the Polar Caves), bunk camaraderie, swimming lessons in the cold lake, campfires, etc etc etc.

Josh has changed the specific names (to protect the kids, and the camp), and it’s obvious from the get-go that we didn’t go to the same place (his camp was boys-only, mine had a sister camp on the same grounds), but so much of his experience mirrors my own.

Better yet, he’s written the book in a very loose, conversational style that makes me feel like I’m there with him. And true-to-form, there are parts of Cabin Pressure that are laugh-out-loud funny.

If you’d like to read an excerpt from the book, there’s one at EW.com and of course, one at Josh’s own site. There’s even a guided tour of the dining hall at the publisher’s Web site.

If you’ve been to a summer camp, you’ll totally relate to this book. It makes Cabin Pressure the perfect summertime read.

The bus will arrive this Saturday morning to take campers to Kenwood/Evergreen. Reading Cabin Pressure, I feel like I’m already in New Hampshire, waiting for them to arrive.

5 Responses to “Under Pressure”


  1. What Am I Going to Do This Summer? « Martin's Musings - May 25, 2012

    […] 4. Take a road trip. Anywhere in Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire would be fine. Maybe this will be the summer I visit my old summer camp. […]

  2. Is This the Ultimate “Summer” Playlist? « Martin's Musings - May 29, 2012

    […] a hobby reminiscent of those days when I went to summer camp and we did “Sing Downs,” where a counselor would throw out a word and we’d have to think of […]

  3. Still My Favorite, Week After Week « Martin's Musings - November 19, 2012

    […] me great pleasures, like Michael Slezak’s “Idolatry” series and Josh Wolk’s Cabin Pressure. I get a little sad when there’s a double issue and I know another one won’t arrive for […]

  4. Book Review: Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk (4/5). Reminder that being a grown-up is awesome. | Taking on a World of Words - May 6, 2014

    […] Posts: Under Pressure | Martin’s Musings Review: CABIN PRESSURE by Josh Wolk | Michelle I. […]

  5. I Have a Lot to Do This Summer | Martin's Musings - May 23, 2014

    […] Visit my old summer camp. I say this every year, and I’m hoping I make it happen this […]

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