New Scribd Original: Camp Echo
Now available exclusively on Scribd: Camp Echo.
Lauded as the “Indiana Jones of American literature” (The Guardian), legendary travel writer Paul Theroux has been exploring the world and sharing it with readers in his acclaimed, best-selling works for decades.
With Camp Echo, Theroux returns to fiction with a compelling coming-of-age story that tackles masculinity, morality, and leadership — all through the lens of Boy Scout camp and Theroux’s signature use of irony. Drawing upon his own experience as a Boy Scout in his youth, Theroux writes with precision and vivid detail, drawing from his days as a teen in the wilderness battling his own definition of what it meant to be a man.
Andy is a well mannered, intelligent, and conscientious teenage boy who goes to camp to learn what all Boy Scouts are sent to summer camp to learn: strong values and character. Upon his arrival to Camp Echo, the Camp Director tells Andy and his peers that this Boy Scouts camp is meant “to give America a new generation of men of character, with ingrained qualities that make for good citizenship.”
Andy’s five other cabinmates run the gamut in personalities and quickly challenge his notion of what it means to be a man of character. Bullies are prevalent, racism is blatant, and moral compasses are continuously tested.
Each day, the boys practice a series of outdoors activities — canoeing, rope climbing, rifle shooting, etc. — to prepare them for the annual Camporee, a competition against the Scouts across the lake at the end of their three-week stay. The greatest accomplishment one can achieve at Camp Echo is winning the Camporee.
When Andy discovers he is a talented sharpshooter, he realizes that being a respectable, well-liked Scout is in his future if he can bring home a win. As Andy observes that those who lead the camp pride themselves on being feared victors, he’s faced with the dilemma to remain true to himself or fall in line.
By turns nostalgic and nuanced, Camp Echo is a journey peppered with life lessons and wisdom that explores questions still relevant today: what makes a man, and how do we define a leader?