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Of Conners and Summer Camp

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Did you know that lots of famous celebrities were big fans of summer camp when they were growing up? Alicia Goranson is one of those many actors and actresses who loved summers at camp. I already posted about Alicia’s television sister from the hit sitcoms ‘Roseanne’ as well as ‘The Conners’, Sarah Gilbert (who also attended summer camp). You can check out that Blog post by clicking right here.

Becky Conner, played by Alicia, is the oldest of the Conner siblings. But despite being the oldest, Alicia started this role when she was just 14 years old. She appreciated summer camp so much that she took her summers off from acting so she had time to work as a camp counselor at a YMCA camp in Michigan.

She was studying acting at a school in Chicago which led her to her role on ‘Roseanne’. She had only auditioned once before landing her role as Becky Conner. Everyone loved working with Alicia on the show, but after five seasons, she left the show to attend Vassar College in New York. She was still able to appear part-time on the show for a while so her scenes were written sparingly until she was eventually replaced by Sarah Chalke.  

While Alicia reprised her role here and there later on in the series, her presence was always restricted by her school schedule. After the series reached its end, Alicia still appeared in a number of other television shows and films, guest-starring in programs like ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ‘Fringe’, and ‘Damages.

But that wouldn’t be the end for Becky Conner! Several years back, there was word of a Roseanne reboot called ‘The Conners’ in the making that would see the return of nearly the entire original cast. In 2018, the show was released and currently remains in production!

Thank goodness for folks like Alicia Goranson who follow their hearts to help make summer camp happen for kids like you. Maybe you too will work as a camp counselor one day. Until then, enjoy attending camp as a camper and, as always, thanks for reading.


- John

Dennen's Camp Days

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Hey, Camp Fans!

The amount of celebrities that have attended summer camp is staggering! Coming from all across the country and different walks of life, plenty of big names started their claim to fame in their visits to summer camp. Some names are bigger than others. I’ve covered folks like Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Lisa Loeb, and Chris Farley. For today’s post, however, I’d like to highlight a former summer camper whose name you maybe haven’t heard of…yet.

Brett Michael Dennen is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter of the folk music variety who both attended and worked at Camp Jack Hazard in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of San Francisco. It was there that he learned to play the guitar at a very young age. Brett’s camp counselors played lots of Neil Young and John Denver songs—the music he was raised on at home by his parents.

Growing up in a small farm town of California, Brett’s parents opted to homeschool him. They gave him plenty of creative freedom throughout his education and he spent a lot of his time learning music. Between his home life and summers at camp, it didn’t take long for Brett to develop his skills on the guitar which compelled him to start writing his own songs.   

He attended Oakdale High School in the late 90’s. Brett went on to study sociology and philosophy at Kresge College and within just a year of his graduation, he launched his music career with his first album at the young age of 25.

Amidst his adult education and musical career, Brett’s connection to his camp never diminished. After the release of his fourth studio album, Brett performed at a fundraiser for the Jack and Buena Foundation which currently operates Camp Jack Hazard.  

Since his start in 2004, Brett has released six studio albums with no signs of slowing down! Check out this ‘Wild Child’ if you’re a fan of folk music or just good music in general. And be sure to check out Camp Jack Hazard for your own summer camp experience. You’re sure to have a blast and you may even learn to play guitar! As always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John

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