The Sociology of Summer Camps

Jori Reiken
4 min readJan 6, 2021

Summer Camps provide a space for people to be who they want to be and be their best selves. They provide space for competition, building identities, forming friendships and learning life skills. The picture above was taken during the final week of camp at Camp Walden. This picture demonstrates the final event of a 2 day long competition where the camp is divided into 4 teams to compete to win the ultimate prize of Walden Games Champion. The picture above shows how much culture, social status and social norms can affect people in the specific environment of a summer camp.


Summer camps create a space that is different than anything else, they provide a place to grow and become who you are meant to be. They also develop their own special culture. The picture demonstrates a subculture in the greater camp culture, they are the people in the green flannels. They hold their position a social status and use their position to make their own culture. For context, at Camp Walden, important parts of their culture involve family, music, and involvement. This picture shows that through the teams (red, green, blue or yellow), you create a bond and create a family by participating in events and cheering each other on. The subculture of a group called the trippers (in green in the picture) their culture relates to family and music but bonds in different ways. I believe that this culture relates to symbolic culture which is the “meanings we attribute to language, symbols, interaction and rituals” (Harvey, 2017 pg. 5). The fire that the trippers are building are a symbol of everybody leaning on their camp family and forming those relationships, or even coming together to sing camp songs, and holding each other in your cabin, or age group circles. This symbol is also a ritual, the ritual of burning the rope to end the second afternoon of the event, symbolizes the end of the games and the summer coming to an end, but is also a ritual as the trippers and future trippers in the counselor in training program (CIT) work together to make a fire to burn the rope, the first team to do it, wins the section of the games.

Social Status and Role

Every society, every group, they have their own social status. At camp, you see social status in groups of staff, and in groups of campers but also overall…