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Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor
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Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  68 reviews
What happens when a grown man returns to the site of his fondest childhood memories? A wry, clear-eyed, and laugh-out-loud look at the transition to adulthood

Three months before getting married at age thirty-four, Josh Wolk decides to treat himself to a "farewell to childhood" extravaganza: one last summer working at the beloved Maine boys' camp where he spent most of the

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  259 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction

Who has not been to summer camp, even if only for a day? And as an adult, who has not sat in his or her industrial beige/grey cubicle on a clear, beautiful summer day and wished they were once again that carefree youngster jumping into a frigid lake or pounding initials into a piece of leather?

Josh Wolk, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, decided to spend part of the summer before his wedding doing just that. He returned to his boyhood haunt as a counselor, hoping to find his boyhood bef
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Oh, summer camp...

"Since it was dark all around me, I didn't see any of them coming; I'd be in the middle of a chapter when a moth suddenly landed right on my sentence, and with a jolt I'd shake the book to make it flit off. I made it through about six pages and four regulation-sized moths when the most enormous mother moth appeared on my pages. In the 0.0003 seconds before I suppressed a scream and tossed the book on the floor, I think I saw it drag one of its legs across its own throat and the
Julie Ehlers
I wanted to read this memoir because I used to read Josh Wolk's writing on and always found it hilarious. I figured the book would be just as hilarious, but unfortunately there were not nearly as many laughs as I was expecting. Still, it was entertaining enough and some of the depictions of the campers were truly touching, even if the whole thing felt like an extended visit to the boys' locker room. ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: adultnonfiction
This definitely had some laugh out loud moments, as I expected. I am a huge Josh Wolk fan from and his recaps there of AMAZING RACE are often better than the show itself. That being said, I think a) boys or b) people who went to camp might like it better than I did, since I am not a boy, nor a former camper. ...more
Jason Blythe
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading this book it makes me want to sing...

Hello Muddah,
Hello Fadduh.
Here I am at
Camp Granada.
Camp is very
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining.

Very enjoyable book. Never have gone to a camp for the summer it allowed me to live vicariously through the author.

Anybody that has been to a summer camp would sure enjoy this book.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
summer camps were a staple of my childhood summers and also i am a 90's kid and super nostalgic all the time so when i saw this book i was SO EXCITED!!!

it's non-fiction and the premise is that josh goes back to work at the summer camp where he spent his childhood as a camper and young adulthood as a CIT and counselor. it's the summer before he is going to get married and become a real adult and he wants to just have one last carefree summer.

he is in charge of the Bears cabin, a group of adolesc
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
The subtitle of this testosterone-fueled novel really sums it up well - "One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor." Growing up, I longed to go to sleepaway camp, but had to settle for the second-best day camp option. To fill that void retroactively and vicariously, I am often drawn to books set at summer camps. Josh Wolk's book is alternately nostalgic, introspective, funny and sweet. The narrative recollections are ok, but what really stand out are the cabin dialog ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: camp people
I've given this book the rare and elusive five-star rating because not only was it good, but I encountered it at the perfect time of my life.

A couple of weeks ago, while unemployed, broke, and nostalgic about my own camp days, I came across a job ad seeking resident camp counselors. I, too, am 34 years old and, after considering it for a couple of days, I decided not to spend my summer at camp. My last camp days were over a decade ago, and at least 30 pounds ago - and I think I crave privacy mo
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved summer camp as a kid: swimming in the lake, hiking through the woods, sleeping out under the stars. Now, I prefer my exposure to nature to be at a safe distance. But I did enjoy reading Cabin Pressure. It brought back so many happy memories and the old envy of kids (mainly East Coast kids) who were able to spend 4, 8 or even 10 weeks away at camp, while my CYO camp never offered more than 10 days (reduced to 7 days after my second summer). Like the author, I too dreamed of returning to c ...more
Josh Wolk decides to spend the summer before he gets married back at his childhood summer camp. He’s older than most of the counselors at thirty-four, and has a hard time fitting in with them, but his rapport with his cabin – a bunch of fourteen-year-old boys – is strong, and their experience of camp is much as he remembers. Although some of the activities have changed, and the faces are slightly different (older or completely new), camp is largely the same. For anyone who shares Josh’s summer c ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What's better than a memoir about a guy who's about to get married and is facing a kind of mid-life crisis and decides that returning to his childhood summer cap as a counselor is a good way to process that?

One who is a writer by trade and does so with the intent of also writing about it. His narrative style and metaphors & similes make for a very enjoyable read.

Highly recommended all around.
Kristen Sturtevant
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh my head...if you've ever been to camp, this book will resonate and have you laughing out loud! Josh Wolk goes back to the camp of his youth for one last summer before he becomes an adult and gets married. Some of the humor is crude (it is an all boys camp, after all) but for any of us who have worked with adolescents, his descriptions of this summer ring true. Almost made me want to go back to my summer camp! ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
what a disappointment. His article on entertainment weekly are so funny but this book was a bummer.
Kris Dersch
This one will probably appeal only to those who have a special relationship with camp...fortunately, that's a lot of us.
There's not a ton of plot here...Josh predictably answers the question he starts his summer with. But there's plenty of nostalgia and anecdotes and a likable cast of kids and adults to spend the summer with. It will definitely feel like camp.
It's pretty testosterone camp counselor days were spent primarily at Girl Scout camps and the all-boy experience is a bit much
I just could not get into this book. I don't know if it because I could not relate since I have never been to any type of summer camp, or I just did not get the humor. I also found him to be annoying so that did not help get into his stories. I would not recommend the book but many others who have read it liked it. ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
[Full Review]

This book was a much-needed breath of fresh air for me. I read a lot of heavy and blah books around this one and I needed to remember that books can be funny. My break from writing reviews and summaries was to put my headphones on, turn on Cabin Pressure, and take a walk to the park. I split it up over a long time and the relaxed feeling I got from picturing this Maine camp filled with hyper campers and sarcastic counselors kept me smiling throughout.

Josh’s fiancée, Christine, was m
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where a 30-something, realizing he is now a "grown-up", has a panic attack and tries to relive his childhood. In this case, writer Josh Wolk, is getting married and entering the grown-up world at last. He decides that he wants to go back and be a camp counselor at his beloved childhood summer camp once before embarking on the adventure of being a grown-up. Being a writer, he has the flexiblity to take the summer and sign on as a camp counselor and so he goes back and d ...more
Kathleen Kurlin
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book up on a "used books" table. I'm a sucker for cheap books! After quickly scanning the book jacket I was looking forward to this being a novel about a man in his 30s returning to his old summer camp to try and recapture his youth the summer before he was to get married. Once I started reading -- I had to go back and read the book jacket from start to finish because I realized the book was not a fiction novel but an actual account of the authors return to summer camp to recapture ...more
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Josh completely encapsulated the feelings of camp - the uneasiness of showing up (though I've never been a returner), the exasperation of dealing with the kids, the giddy joy of making a difference, the complete contentment of revelling in the atmosphere, and the total, devastating exhaustion and frustration you feel by the end of the summer.

This book was a great read. It's definitely suited more towards someone who's walked the walk, but even if you haven't, it goes by quickly and has you laugh
Jul 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
2.5 With such a very clever title, I thought this would be good to listen to on the way to the mountains, but there's a little too much swearing and stories of drinking so I just listened to it while I cleaned house and pictured myself jumping into a lake from a rope swing. I'm also reading Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal and it's funny how two stories that are so dissimilar can have enough things in common to make me ask myself, "Okay, which book am I ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I think my favorite line in this book is, "Adolescents were able to come up with an endless supply of nonsensical dirty euphemisms because their creativity wasn't hindered by actual familiarity with breasts or vaginas." I'm not sure how well it works as the coming-of-middle-age story it's marketed as, but it's a fun trip to camp, which is what I was hoping for. As a bonus for somebody surrounded by girls most of her life, I also got a summer's worth of unfiltered for girl ears boy banter. Wouldn ...more
Feb 16, 2009 added it
It's not necessarily Great Literature, and, though the tone is similar at times to some of Bryson's work, one doesn't learn as much as one does from Bryson. I did, however, laugh so hard I thought milk was going to come out of my nose. It may be just that I share the author's strange and seemingly irrelevant obsession with nostalgia and the things that cause it. It may be that I like reading a book that lets me eavesdrop on someone's life. In any case, I enjoyed it immensely. ...more
This memoir tells the tale of a 40-year old man trying to reclaim his childhood, by becoming a counselor at his former childhood camp. I was hoping it would be a bit funnier, as this author is a former Entertainment Weekly writer. Instead, I found that he tried a little too hard in his attempts to bond with campers and other counselors. It was a good summer read, though. I've never been to camp but always wondered what it would be like, and this paints a great portrait of a carefree summer. ...more
I picked this up because I always wanted to go to a real summer camp--meaning by a lake and not religious. It was a good insight into the summers I always yearned for, but it did get tedious at times and I was easily distracted while reading it. Would have been much improved by cutting 100 or so pages.
Nov 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
I think I would have liked this book more if I: A) read Josh Wolk's columns in Entertainment magazine, or B) had gone to summer camp as a kid. Having done neither, this book was sort of a curiousity - without the backdrop of either A or B, it wasn't quite funny enough to keep me laughing, or poigniant enough to move me, although it had moments of each. ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
I returned this to the library after putting up with the first 2.5 discs. Any attempt to craft a wry Jean Shepherd-esque look back on camp and incipient adulthood was shattered by that perfect mix of navel-gazing and overprivileged whining that just made me want to kick the author in the shins. Sorry, Charlie.
Jun 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: former camp counselors
As a former camp counselor, I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I could understand how the author felt. I loved camp, but I don't think I could go back. The book itself was slow. There wasn't anything that made me need to keep reading it. ...more
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
This non-fiction book by a writer at one of my favorite magazines — Entertainment Weekly — is about the author's return to the summer camp of his youth as a thirty-four-year-old. It's a funny and interesting look at the things we cling to as we inch our way to maturity. ...more
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
-Love the camper personalities he turns into characters in the book. I heard my friend Cade telling the story, with a similar wit, humor, and appreciation for the details in everyday camp life. Like camp? You'll love the book. Check out Wolk's website! ...more
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