Head Mouseketeer Michael Eisner will be among a gaggle of media moguls, political biggies and others gathered in Santa Barbara through Thursday for an issues retreat sponsored by Miramax’s Talk magazine and the PaineWebber investment firm. But though the invitation-only event may get a bit touchy-feely as VIPs engage in various topical yaks, it’s unlikely the sessions will venture quite so far off the beaten path as one in which the Disney topper participated Thursday.
That’s when Eisner stood before a group of summer-camp execs in New York City to deliver a speech entitled “What I Did During Summer Vacation.”
The Disney topper detailed how experiences at New York state’s Camp Keewaydin served as valuable life lessons — teaching teamwork, initiative and the ability to overcome adversity. In the latter category, the oft self-effacing exec told the group a story about a particularly difficult canoe trip in which all ended well only through a certain stick-to-it-iveness and hard work.
Something of an adult poster child for the summer camp experience –he wrote about it at some length in his autobiography — Eisner was approached by TriState Camping Conference exec director George Stein at a recent pro basketball game at Madison Square Garden about addressing the confab. Eisner immediately accepted, though he later confessed to some personal uncertainty.
“I’ve spent nearly as much time trying to understand the strange appeal of summer camp as the appeal of a talking mouse who favors red shorts,” Eisner told the group. “Quite frankly, I’m still stumped about the mouse.”