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American Ellen

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Growing in popularity as of late, The Petersens are a family bluegrass band that has toured in Branson for years. They’ve taken to the Internet this year in response to the coronavirus restrictions they’ve faced in live performances and their name is starting to get around. Second oldest in the family and banjo player for the band, Ellen Petersen is slightly more famous than the rest of this talented family thanks to her appearance on ‘American Idol’ back in 2015.

Though she hasn’t disclosed the name of the camp she attended, Ellen recalled in an interview her trip to a bluegrass camp in West Virginia. She injured her ankle that summer and was limited to the activities she could participate in for camp. That’s when she attended the camp’s yodeling workshop and learned to yodel…like a pro!

While the entire family is extremely talented in working both on the stage as well as behind the scenes, Ellen’s voice, her banjo playing, and marketing skills for the band are all extremely impressive. You can tell from her ‘American Idol’ audition (as well as the judges’ reactions to her), that Ellen belongs on the stage as a born-performer.

After her exhilarating ‘American Idol’ ride, Ellen went on to college at Missouri State University where she earned her MBA with a graduate certificate in Marketing—a credential she puts to good use, as she markets full-time for her family’s band.  

Just outside of her business affairs, Ellen recently married Michael Haygood of The Haygoods which is another performing family in Branson. Congratulations to the both of them!

Though they could be applied to anybody, Ellen gave some inspirational words for other folks who find themselves drawn to stage performances. “Stay true to who you are as a performing artist and go for it,” she says. “Just go for it!” Enjoy discovering the lovely sounds of The Petersens for yourself. Follow your dreams. And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

First-Rate Actress Fiona

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Hey, Fiona Fans!

“Fiona WHO?” you ask. And that’s a fair question—there are a number of famous Fionas: there’s Fiona Apple, Fiona Perry, Princess Fiona. Well…that last one is actually an animated character. But I’m not talking about any of these people (or ogres). The Fiona I’m talking about is Fiona Gubelmann, the actress with lead roles in shows like ‘My Name is Earl’ and ‘Wilfred’.

Interested in acting from an extremely young age, Fiona attended a drama camp when she was little and loved summer camp so much that she also became a counselor at Camp Hess Kramer and Camp Gindling Hilltop in Malibu, California. She’s never disclosed which camp she went to as a camper, but it was obviously a positive part of her childhood. 

She’s since been in plenty of TV shows as mentioned above and guest starred in a range of other very popular shows from ‘Mad Men’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘New Girl’, and more! Take a look at some other things about this beautiful actress…

Made for the Stage
Little, four-year-old Fiona was already filling roles on the stage as she played a part in a ballet adaptation of the ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’. As the years went by, she continued to show a natural magnetism to being on the stage which led her to drama camp in the summers and, ultimately, her acting career. It’s no wonder that she’s such a talented actress; she’s studied the performing arts all her life!

Keep it to Yourself
So many celebrities allow the cameras to keep rolling when they’re off the stage and divulge their very personal matters to the public. It’s refreshing to find those who draw a line between their work and their home. A happily married woman to one Alex Weed (her college sweetheart), Fiona and her husband are private people who keep their family life out of the tabloids.

The Dimple Life
Among the ranks of grinning celebrities whose dazzling smiles are adorned with dimples, like Rachel McAdams, Mario Lopez, and Ann Hathaway to name just a few (not to mention a certain Blogger that you all know and love), Fiona’s facial muscles were gifted with two delightful dimples as well. It’s only about a third of the population whose smiles dimple. If you’re in the club, consider yourself lucky!

Hopefully you enjoyed learning about this dimpled dame whose talent has landed her role after role on television series all across the board! Check out Camp Hess Kramer and Camp Gindling Hilltop for yourself by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading.


- John  

Ben the Mad Man Feldman

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Five years back, I posted about one former summer camper and mad man, Benjamin Feldman. While we covered things like where he attended summer camp—Camp Manitou—and other things like his education and how he got his foot in the door for his acting career, there’s still so much more to learn about Ben. Let’s take a deeper look today at the actor behind Michael Ginsberg.

Check it out:

Ice Cream on the House
We may tend to assume that acting is all that actors have ever done, but lots of famous celebrities held prior positions before the jobs they became known for. As a teenager, Ben worked at a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor. Believe it or not, he was fired from his job there. Teenage Feldman was giving ice cream away for free to his friends. What a generous guy! Pretty nice, Ben—but generosity doesn’t pay the bills.

After he was forced to hang up his apron at Baskin Robbins, you might think Ben was down on his luck; it doesn’t feel good being fired from a job. But he didn’t have long to wait until he landed his breakout role in a made-for-TV movie called ‘Frozen Impact’. Not bad for his first role. Major productions started picking him up for roles after that!

From Mad Fan to Mad Man
With an interest in acting comes an interest in filmmaking and TV shows as well. Ben was a big fan of AMC’s popular drama set in the 60s ‘Mad Men’. What do you know, Ben ended playing the role of Michael Ginsberg on the show and it became the role he is best known for!

So hopefully that gives you a better idea of who Ben Feldman is. I hope you enjoyed learning more about this well-known and appreciated former summer camper and actor. Check out his previous post to learn more. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks!


- John

On Your Mark

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Hey, Camp Fans!

We last talked about Mark Cuban almost five years ago on the Everything Summer Camp Blog. We discussed Emma Kaufmann Camp where he attended summer camp, we discussed his education, and we learned about his first job at 12 years old selling garbage bags in order to afford a pair of expensive sneakers that he had his eyes set on.

We’ll dig even deeper today to learn a bit more about this entrepreneur and moneyman!

Sleeves Rolled Up 
No stranger to hard work, Mark’s work ethic has always been there—evident from his 12-year-old business selling garbage bags. He’s one guy who worked his way to the top by rolling up his sleeves and putting in long hours! In fact, he once went seven years before taking a vacation. Throughout that time, he didn’t feel that he could sacrifice the time if he to be successful.

Cost of Free Speech
Most of us know Mark Cuban as the straight-talking shark from ‘Shark Tank’. You may also know him as the owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. What you may not know him for is how involved and outspoken he is concerning his NBA team as well as the referees and the league in general. Speaking his mind has actually gotten him in trouble with the NBA. He’s paid $1.7 million in NBA fines—pretty costly for exercising one’s right to free speech.

Family Man in Chief
Believe it or not, Mark’s talked a lot about running for president someday. He’s even gone as far as to hire his own personal pollster during the 2016 election. The idea of running was put to bed when he was voted down 4 to 1 by his family over whether or not he should run. Running for office is certainly strenuous on a candidate’s kids and spouse as well, so it was good of Mark to put off a presidential run for his family’s sake.

So hopefully that gives you a better idea of who this moneyman, Mark Cuban is. I hope you enjoyed learning more about this well-recognized and potentially political figure of our day. Check out his previous post to learn more. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks!


- John

The Sandy Man Can

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Hey, Sandler Fans!

The last time we talked about Adam Sandler (about five years back), we discussed Eisner Camp—part of the Union for Reform Judaism—the camp he attended, we discussed his SNL days, and we talked about his film career which includes ‘Bedtime Stories’, ‘Hotel Transylvania’, ‘Pixels’, countless other classic comedies, and almost the candyman himself in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.

This time around, let’s dig a little deeper to see who this classic comedian is at his core!

No Joke
Adam Sandler has been performing as a Stand-up Comedian since he was 17 years old. And it’s certainly no putdown when I say that he’s rumored to have never written a joke. How can that be? Well, Sandler is the type of comedian who has a natural humor about him. He prefers not to have written or rehearsed material when he gets on stage. Instead he just sort of wings it while he’s up there.

Schmoozing Roomies
Before their names were known, Adam Sandler and Judd Appatow were roommates while they were new in L.A. and looking for work. Sandler slept on a mattress on the floor. It took them up until 2009 to make their first movie together.

Cool Cameos
Adam Sandler isn’t afraid to have some fun with the casting in his movies. In ‘Hotel Transylvania’, mentioned above, Sandler’s wife and daughter were recorded for the early appearances of Dracula’s wife and baby. Also mentioned above, the movie ‘Pixels’ had an arcade machine repair guy played by the creator of Pac-Man—Toru Iwatani.  

So hopefully that gives you a better idea of who Adam Sandler is, not as an actor, not as a comedian, but as a roommate. I hope you enjoyed learning more about this funny guy. Check out his previous post to learn more. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks!


- John