An Xpress investigative series, Cruel Summer: The Attack on Camp Summerlane, is telling the little-known story of an ill-fated camp in Transylvania County that pushed the limits of time and place. The series will be published in four weekly installments, the first of which is available here.
For readers who want to know more about the Summerlane saga, Xpress will summarize key online resources as the story unfolds. Follow these links for more information on the people and events described in part one of Cruel Summer:
• SUMMERLANE DOCUMENTS: Documents will be added to The Xpress Files, our online archive of public records, with each part of the story. The entries for part one include an offbeat Summerlane brochure explaining the unique philosophy behind the camp and a more detailed pamphlet offering background on the staff members. Click here to download them, and check back next week for more documents.
• THE REALIST: Camp Summerlane was born in the pages of The Realist, a satirical publication that was a pioneer of the alternative press. Under founder and editor Paul Krassner, the iconoclastic monthly offered publicity and financing for the camp and related ventures. Thanks to Ethan Persoff of the online Realist Archive Project, a growing number of Realist issues are making their way to the world again.
Of particular interest regarding Summerlane are selected progress reports by George von Hilsheimer, the camp director. Click here to read one from the November 1962 issue; here to read one from December 1962; and here for one from June 1963.
• THE SUMMERHILL APPROACH: The unique philosophy behind Summerlane was inspired by British educator A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School, which put students on an even par with instructors when it came to deciding how the school would operate and still exists today. Visit the school’s Web site, and see Wikipedia’s entry on the school for more information.
— Jon Elliston, managing editor