Cover image for
Cabin pressure : one man's futile attempt to recapture his youth at summer camp
Wolk, Josh, 1969-

Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
viii, 273 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Pub Date:
Hyperion, 2007.


Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Jungman - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 796.54 W862

On Order



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 eighties. And there he finds out that there's no better way to see how much you've changed than to revisit a place that hasn't changed at all.

In these eight hilarious, uncomfortable, enlightening weeks, Josh readjusts to life teaching swimming and balancing on a thin metal cot in a cabin of shouting, wrestling, wet-willie-dispensing fourteen-year-olds who, contrary to the warnings of doomsaying sociologists, he finds indistinguishable from the rowdy fourteen-year-olds of his day in any way other than their haircuts. With his old camp friends gone, he finds himself working alongside guys who used to be his campers. Moments of feeling cripplingly old are offset by the corrosive insecurities of his youth when he's paired in the cabin with Mitch, the forty-two-year-old jack-of-all-extreme-sports whose machismo intimidated Josh so much fifteen years earlier, and whom their current campers idolize. And throughout all this disorienting regression, Josh's telephone conversations with his fiance, Christine, grow increasingly intense as their often-comical discussions over the wedding become a flimsy cover for her worries that he's not ready to relinquish his death-grip on the comforts of the past.

A hilarious and insightful look at the tenacious power of nostalgia, the glory of childhood, and the nervous excitement of taking a leap to the next unknown stage in life, Cabin Pressure will appeal to anyone who's ever been young, wishes he was young again, but knows deep down it probably isnt a good idea.

Author Notes

Josh Wolk is a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly where he writes about pop culture and television. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Time Out New York, Sports Illustrated, and Golf. He received his masters in journalism at Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their daughter. This is his first book.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A few months before his impending wedding, before the full weight of adulthood descended upon him, Entertainment Weekly senior writer Wolk realized he needed to take some time and get reacquainted with his younger self. He returned to the summer camp where he spent some of the best weeks of his life, both as a camper and as a counselor. A lighthearted take on the whole you-can't-go-home-again theme, his memoir is like the best bits of a whole bunch of summer-camp movies (remember Meatballs? or Indian Summer?) mixed together. Not that it's just a rehash of stuff you have seen before: Wolk puts a new spin on his perennial topic, observing camp life from the point of view of someone who knows what it was like 20 years ago and who is in the position to compare the boy he used to be with the man he is today. Sometimes poignant, but mostly just very funny, Wolk's reflections will get readers thinking about maybe, just maybe, taking one last plunge into childhood before it's too late. --David Pitt Copyright 2007 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wolk bids adieu to carefree living by returning one last time to summer camp before he gets married. In his account of his eight-week stint as a counselor at Camp Eastwind in Maine, he takes the reader on a romp through male adolescence, which, for Wolk, has retained an archetypal purity. Through the humor ("apoopeatersayswhat?"), the diving board games ("arrrgh, ya got me!"), the smell ("a mixture of feet, old olive loaf and an un-air-conditioned morgue"), he captures the essence of the male teenager with tender, wistful insight. The book evokes in the reader the same nostalgia for camp--and even adolescence--that Wolk feels as he anticipates his return to Eastwind. What propels the memoir, though, is Wolk's frank description of his own re-emerging insecurities inherent to his adolescent self. When he receives a tepid reception from the other counselors, for instance, he calls his fiancee and expresses his reservations about his plan, sounding like a homesick camper calling home. Then there is Mitch, the "action-sport junky" counselor from Wolk's youth, creating the perfect balance between tension and fun-loving innocence: Wolk's domination over his campers in backgammon just cannot compare to Mitch's speedboat rides. But Wolk undergoes a significant transformation, leaving behind his adolescent misconceptions about manhood and re-entering the world on his own terms. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Wolk, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, admits that he is "an extreme nostalgist." He dreams of his carefree, summer camp days when he was a youth and wishes to relive those fondest memories of childhood. At age 34, suffering from an early mid-life crisis, just weeks prior to his wedding day, he decides to become a counselor at Camp Eastwind, the same camp he attended as a camper and where he was a counselor from 1980 to 1988. Wolk describes in great detail the joys and challenges of being a thirtysomething counselor who is faced with more challenges than the difficulty posed by a small bunk bed (the author is more than six feet tall). For those who have fantasized about returning to a childhood place that once brought them great joy, this book will first entice, then disappoint, as the descriptions of the day-to-day events can be boring. An optional purchase for public libraries.-Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Google Preview