(1 - 1 of 1)
- "'Invading vacationland for Christ' : the construction of evangelical identity through summer camps in the postwar era"
- Koerselman, Rebecca A.
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Evangelical summer camps blossomed in the post–World War II years, more than tripling their numbers from 1945 to 1960. But scholars have yet to explain the phenomenon at this critical juncture in American history. Summer camps provide a lens for how evangelicals saw themselves in an increasingly secular postwar world. Many believed the influence of evangelicals was on the decline, and scholars have indicated the overall waning of the influence of mainline Protestant denominations...
Show moreEvangelical summer camps blossomed in the post–World War II years, more than tripling their numbers from 1945 to 1960. But scholars have yet to explain the phenomenon at this critical juncture in American history. Summer camps provide a lens for how evangelicals saw themselves in an increasingly secular postwar world. Many believed the influence of evangelicals was on the decline, and scholars have indicated the overall waning of the influence of mainline Protestant denominations throughout the twentieth century. But an examination of summer camps reveals that evangelicals desired to engage in mainstream culture through reaching American postwar youth. They consciously worked to influence America's youth in unprecedented ways, appealing to them through the combination of faith and fun, working to attract the growing teenage subculture in order to create and sustain the next generation of evangelical leadership. Summer camps, an innovative approach to reaching America's youth, aided evangelicals as they sought to reassert both a Christian and American identity in the postwar milieu of anxiety and change. The establishment of evangelical summer camps in the 1940s and 1950s demonstrated a clear resurgence of evangelical power. This evangelical power, building on the organizational foundation of the 1940s and 1950s, continued its trajectory into the national spotlight and cultural significance in the late twentieth and early twenty first century. The examination of the diversity of evangelical summer camps through broader historical lenses provides a variety of different ways to unearth how evangelicals went from a sheltered group that supposedly disappeared in the 1920s to their visibility and influence of today. An exploration of the continuing influence of denominational institutions as well as the growing evidence of non–denominational camps revealed the extent to which postwar evangelicals struggled to neatly identify as liberal, modern, or more conservative. An investigation of the construction of gender–based identities explains how evangelicals sometimes fit with existing gender norms, but also the ways they pushed against traditional gender roles by encouraging girls to pursue evangelical careers. A consideration of the issues of race and environmentalism indicates the immense diversity within evangelicalism during the postwar era. Finally, the exploration of the voices of evangelical youth exposes a language of political activism. Evangelical youth believed they were the solution to the world’s problems and that missionizing, political involvement, establishing more Christian institutions, and pursuing world peace were what evangelicals should care about.