18 Aug Camp Cool
For a moment, I want you to travel back in time and picture yourself standing in front of your closet packing for summer camp. Picture yourself unzipping your duffel bag, digging out your crocs from the basement, and your genuine excitement as each day of June inches closer to the start of camp. That was my experience for every summer that I can remember. Toss in those wool socks, yes, you’re only there for maybe 1 to 3 three weeks but you DO need multiple sets of sweats, pyjama pants, and a t-shirt in every colour. Don’t forget your flannel, neons, and costume pieces. If you have been lucky enough to go to, or continue to work at a summer camp, I hope you can relate to this feeling of thrill and excitement looking forward to camp each year. If you haven’t ever gone to camp, I want you to think of your favourite summer trip, outing, or neighbourhood memory that was the peak of your summer. Something that sticks with you and was a crazy amount of fun. Think of that and allow me to educate you on the concept of “Camp Cool”.
This summer I was fortunate enough to get one more summer at my childhood camp working on a small maintenance team on site. Unfortunately, my camp, like many others, was unable to run due to COVID-19. While I missed seeing the usually energetic explosion of a camp filled with campers and staff, I had a lot of time to reflect on all the elements of camp I wanted to take forward with me in life. One way I plan on doing that is through being “camp cool”. Camp cool is all about amplifying identity in an inclusive and non-judgmental way. It’s about giving yourself the freedom to wear the comfiest and wackiest things you can find, letting them help you show the coolest things about you. Camp cool draws from being comfortable in your own skin and from the most well-hidden areas of our imagination. Unlike traditional city fashion trends, camp cool has very little focus on brands or price tags and everything to do with uniqueness and the confidence it inspires.
Maybe you went to camp and right now you are thinking, “Woah, that’s heavy, my mom packed my suitcase for me, it doesn’t matter that much”. That is totally fair. I might be reading into the whole thing too much, but this is what it means to me!
Camp cool is entirely up to the wearer, but I thought I would share a few styles that I will be bringing home from camp this summer – and I think you should too! I know that not everyone has gone to camp, but camp energy can be brought into everything we do and is more of a vibe than anything else; everyone can perfect it. Let’s jump right into it:
Step one to achieving a “camp cool” status: a flannel or hoodie should be always on or near you, should the need to be cozy arise. Jeans do not exist in the world of camp cool, your clothes should allow for spontaneous running, dancing, and bushwacking. While your base outfit should always be both comfortable and allow for maximum movement and flexibility, the flannel and hoodie on call will be a safety measure of comfiness throughout the day. Unless of course it is a beautiful sunny hot day, duh.
Next, socks and sandals are both worshipped and encouraged. This combination will never let you down, unless you actually have to run, canoe, or play a sport. Keep your toes cozy and travel from place to place, with strappy sandals and some wool or knit socks; kick off and put your shoes on with ease. Please do not wear this combination to a serious gathering, professional occasion, or to do anything strenuous – be responsible with this new power.
Now that you understand the importance of being comfy in the study of camp cool, I introduce to you: before bed pyjamas. These pyjamas will be worn to dinner, probably before dinner, by the campfire, dragging under your heels in the mud and dirt anywhere you please. You will need to change into a slightly less fashionable pair of pyjamas when you actually go to bed, but this just means you get to experiment blurring the line between pyjamas and real world clothes at any and all times of day. If it’s what you want to wear, wear it.
When you aren’t in the mood for pyjamas, it is important to have a t-shirt of every colour available if there is a themed night, a game of capture the flag, or if you have to dress up for a skit. You don’t really need a shirt in every colour, but generally I suggest putting a little more colour into your wardrobe. If you already like to include a lot of colour and spice, step two is neons and strange thrift store finds. Never turn down Hawaiian shirts, neon bathing suits, and exciting – verging-on-ugly sweaters. Basically, if you have ever picked up an article of clothing at a thrift store and thought, “I LOVE this, but where would I ever wear it?”, buy that piece of clothing because you DO have somewhere to wear it – camp cool city.
The cardinal rule of camp cool is to wear clothing that helps you be your loudest and most awesome self, with ease. If that means letting yourself be comfortable wearing pyjamas before 5pm and rocking a sweat suit at the grocery store – do it. Camp cool is not letting yourself get in your own head when picking an outfit and going with your gut. Nothing is ever too bright, sparkly, or colourful. Things do not have to be new; I’ve found my comfiest pieces of clothing to be thrifted, hand-me-downs, or sweaters stolen from your bff or bunkmate. A camp cool person always wears an outfit, and never lets an outfit wear them. A camp cool person never wonders what a certain colour would look like or if it’s acceptable to wear a certain kind of hat; they just do it. Furthermore, they do it boldly and comfortably, enough to make it look like the coolest and most authentic look. A camp cool person never lacks the occasion because they make one. Get it?
As you can see, camp cool is a state of mind; a bold and unapologetically authentic energy that everyone is capable of tapping into. I, for one, have spent the last two event-free-pandemic years staring longingly at my closet, dreaming up new outfits to try. I think it’s about time that we all dug out that slightly out-there and fun outfit we planned or sported during the pandemic, and give them their moment to shine. These are the fashion and life tips that I will be bringing home from camp this summer.