Throughout my case study research and writing, I have found that American summer camp as both a cultural institution and practice fits well into multiple theories. However, when it camp to synthesizing these theories with a broader conclusion about the nature of culture and globalization, I had more difficulty. Originally I thought that traditional summer camp might be a practice unique to the United States, but I found that other countries send their children into the woods as well. Still, the consensus from all my research was that summer camp is an institution that was nonetheless founded from and within American society.
So I asked myself: what does summer camp say about the uniqueness of American culture? And even further, what can we learn about the United States during an era of globalization from a theoretical analysis of summer camp? How do the effects of globalization (interconnectedness, Western dominance, technology, exploitation) play a role in the establishment and continuation of summer camp?
Ultimately, I was able to form a thesis I think encompasses the answers to many of these questions: From a theoretical standpoint, camp may be at once a fragment and an engine of dominant culture, a supposedly “liberated” arena in which the ruling class ultimately still exerts its own values and ideals. The prevalence of dominant ideology within American summer camps ultimately reflects the narrowing scope of subaltern expression and efficacy in the face of globalization.