Fall/automne 2008
Articles

Making Modern Childhood, the Natural Way: Psychology, Mental Hygiene, and Progressive Education at Ontario Summer Camps, 1920-1955

Sharon Yvonne Wall
University of Winnipeg
Bio
Published December 12, 2008
Keywords
  • Summer camps,
  • Mental Hygiene,
  • Psychology,
  • Progressive Education
How to Cite
Wall, Sharon Yvonne. 2008. “Making Modern Childhood, the Natural Way: Psychology, Mental Hygiene, and Progressive Education at Ontario Summer Camps, 1920-1955”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 20 (2), 73–110. https://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/hse/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/514.

Abstract

In the first half of the twentieth century, summer camps in Ontario were promoted as a much-needed escape from city living and the pathway to a world of natural, pre-modern simplicity. This paper demonstrates that, by the late 1920s, camp administrators and promoters were, in fact, pulled in two directions; they treasured the idea of antimodern escape, but, they also sought to make the camp programming “truly modern” by integrating the latest psychological and educational wisdom. At all sorts of camps, the language and aims of educational psychology and the mental hygiene movement influenced the nature of camp goals, camp programming, and thinking about campers themselves. Camp was regarded as providing the ideal environment for fostering psychological health and for applying the principles of progressive education. This paper explores administrators’ view of the value of psychological and educational expertise, the extent to which they were able to apply these at camp, and, to a lesser extent, children’s reactions to the modern, psychologized camp.