This Summer 365 Camper of the Week has got all the write stuff! Camp runs deeps in her blood and brain. Her experience was so profound and formative that it has inspired her incredible resume of teacher, author, and playwright, screenwriter and all around rock star. Her very first published book series about what else other than – SLEEPAWAY CAMP!! – is launching May 12 and we cannot wait to get out pre-ordered copy and indulge in some literal summer reading. We are so glad to know her and cannot wait to introduce you to the very talented and extremely lovely, Stacy Davidowitz.
Where did you go to camp?
Tyler Hill Camp from 1996 – 2008. Sessions were seven and a half weeks. I wished they were longer.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Merrick, Long Island. Now I live in upper Manhattan in an awesome neighborhood called Hudson Heights.
What are you currently doing?
I work as an author, playwright, screenwriter, and teaching artist in the city.
At the moment, I have multiple projects in the works. My indie feature, IN THE RUBBER ROOM, is in pre-production. I’m writing a new musical inspired by teenage diary entries for Big Block Entertainment, the producers of Rock of Ages. I have a short play going up in April in Taipei, a full-length being workshopped by Fundamental Theatre Project in June, a third production of my first ever play produced by New School this summer, and a young adult novel and a children’s plovel (half book-half play) being shopped around for publication.
The BIGGEST news is that my middle grade book series CAMP ROLLING HILLS is launching on May 10, 2016, published by Abrams Books. The first two books of the series come out together. The third book, which is all about Color War, will be released in April 2017. The fourth book will be released in April 2018. There are potentially two more books after that, bringing the series to a total of six books. The series follows twelve campers over the course of three summers (ages 12 to 14) as they bond, grow, fall in love, participate in hilarious high jinx, and eat s’mores. Each book is told from the point of view of one boy and one girl, so that by the end of the series, each character will have their half a book to shine! Fun fact: the series is based on a musical I co-wrote also called Camp Rolling Hills. It’s been developed by New York Musical Theatre Festival; it premiered in early March in San Diego; and there is a production set for June in Westport, Connecticut.
The book series has gotten awesome reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews, and has testimonials from Michael Showalter, co-creator of Wet Hot American Summer and Elissa Brent Weissman, the author of Nerd Camp. This summer, I will be doing a summer camp tour to promote the series and to get to know campers up and down the east coast!
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path?
Camp has had a profound effect on my career path. To start, my family is now in the camping industry. My brother is the Assistant Director of Tyler Hill Camp, my sister-in-law runs Girls’ Side there, and my mom is the Co-Director of Southampton Camp & Club.
As for me, working at camp as a counselor and then head staff at Tyler Hill helped me become a creative, on-my-toes, high energy teaching artist. I currently teach seven times a week: literacy, drama, and creative writing, and I owe that to the amazing experience I had planning and mentoring campers of all ages.
Finally, I write so much about camp. Plays, screenplays, musicals, and now the Camp Rolling Hills book series. As Kirkus Reviews said just a couple weeks ago, “the author’s love for camp shines through.” I feel so lucky to have grown up at Tyler Hill—who knew my years of fun would pave the way for my writing career.
What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk?
Camp-themed stationary, shinguards, pre-written SING songs.
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
Adventurous, cheerful (like, literally full of cheers), monumental.
Who was someone at camp that you looked up to?
I really looked up to my mom, and still do. She worked as Head of Girls’ Side at Tyler Hill for nine summers, and during that time, she was my rock, my mentor, and a source of great pride, especially when, you know, she rode a horse around camp costumed as Beaver Woman.
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
It’s not every day you get to live in a bunk with your friends. Camp gives you a chance to embrace all the cool, quirky stuff about you that makes you special. You find yourself, and then because everyone else loves you for who you are, you do, too.
What is your favorite/most epic camp memory?
Just one?! No! Here’s a short-ish list.
- Costumed as Cisco Kid, I “killed off” my brother who was costumed as the Hawk, as part of a Tyler Hill pre-Color War tradition. The choreography was Kung Fu inspired.
- Fostering an injured baby bat one of my bunkmates found in her shoe.
- Writing “Lice the Musical” to lift the spirits of my lice-ridden campers. I wrote that musical a decade ago, and I’m pretty sure my campers can still rap the lyrics.
- One time I was so committed to Animal Hunt, where the counselors dress like different animals and hide around camp for the campers to find them, I hid under a bunk, co-occupied by two skunks, for thirty minutes. Ironically, I was also dressed as a skunk. I was not sprayed. I won.
How has camp affected your adult life? Is there something you learned there that you still do today?
STARFISH! Jay Jacobs coined the values system, and he allowed me to use it in my book series. It comes with a great story about a man who throws beached starfish back into the water one by one. Someone comes along and tells the man that what he’s doing is pointless—he can’t possibly save all the starfish. And the man replies, “If I can make a difference for just one, then it is worth it.” Something like that! The acronym is:
Sportsmanship, Tolerance, Appreciation, Respect, Friendship, Integrity, Sensitivity, Helpfulness.
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
Cherish it. Be weird. Be bold. Have all the fun.
What is your favorite camp tradition?
There was this super weird one I loved called the Watermelon Sacrifice. The legend was as follows: The camp director at the time, Big Al, was greeted by a voice on the dock that told him to carry out sacrifices in honor of the Watermelon God. The ceremony involved one age-group on the dock at a time. Big Al would hand the youngest camper a “schmekal” or tail end of the watermelon. The camper would have to balance it on his or her head and spin three times. If the camper succeeded, he or she got to keep it as a souvenir. Otherwise, he or she would be tossed in the lake. Super high stakes. Oh! And then, if the watermelon was red, everyone feasted. If it wasn’t red, and was unripe, that meant that someone, the summer before, had spit the white seeds into the lake instead of the black ones. I was always bummed that my birthday was Christmas Eve, making me one of the oldest in my age-group. I’d love to have a rotting schmekal underneath my adult bed.
What was your favorite camp food?
Canteen pizza. How was it SO good?
What is your favorite camp cheer?
What did you prefer – pool or lake?
Favorite canteen candy?
Butterfinger. Eat the chocolate exterior first, save the inside for last. Obviously.
What was your favorite camp activity?
Boating. I love kayaking. And also the trambopoline.
If you had to have something from camp tattooed on you, what would it be?
What is your favorite camp word/expression?
“Up with the Cisco, Down with the Hawk.” See the camp memory list above!
“This camp is not a treetop…” It’s the opening lyrics of a Tyler Hill song written by Lee Kweller.
Favorite camp memento?
I have an awesome Tyler Hill ruler from the mid-nineties in my desk drawer. It says “FUN IS THE RULE AT TYLER HILL.” I still use it to draw straight lines.
What were the biggest trends/must have items when you went to camp or representative of the time you went to camp?
Blowup chairs, jacks, husband pillows, cookie cakes.
Any firsts at camp?
First kiss for sure. Ivan was his name. From Switzerland. We kissed on the Boston trip when I was a Senior camper, going into eighth grade. I just friended him on Facebook. He seems to be doing great.
* Parents, this will make for some great summer reading and a duffel stuffer to send your child off to camp with!!
For information about the book series, visit www.camprollinghills.com
For information about me and my projects, visit www.stacydavidowitz.com.
For my amazon author page, click here.
Instagram @camprollinghills || Twitter @CampRHbooks