My favorite thing as a child between the ages of eight and 14 was going to summer camp (to be honest, it’s also my favorite part of being an adult). It was like school, but instead of teachers, I got to be around cool teenagers who laughed at my jokes and all seemed to know how to play the ukulele. My favorite part of camp, though, was always That One Counselor. You know, the one with all the counselor and camper friends and the super shiny hair? I had one of those counselors. My heart soared when she hugged me at the end of the summer, and I made her promise to write to me (she didn’t). I now recognize that I had a big gay crush on a super cool, also probably gay, teenager. Which makes sense. I’m gay.
There’s something really great about summer camp counselor fashion. For a wardrobe that seems to consist mainly of old camp t-shirts, cutoff shorts, and strappy sandals destined to leave tan lines, it works! Maybe it’s the confidence that’s worn with it. Maybe it’s the fact that the clothes are so simple, that they make room for great personalities to shine through. Whatever it was about them, I tried my hardest to copy them in hopes that I too would be as cool as the counselors wearing them. It did not work (I was a terribly awkward child with braces and asthma, but I have grown into a super cool adult). So as summer nears, maybe you want to pay homage to the first girl who you wanted to be just like. Well, this is for you, pal.
First and foremost for a camp counselor is comfort. You’re running after hordes of children all day — going to the pool, the dining hall, the ropes course — and you don’t want to feel constricted. Sometimes, you might need to get fancy when parents are coming around, and a polo shirt is always good for that. A casual hoodie or cardigan is a must for chilly nights by the campfire.
Listen: Pants in the summer are a mistake. I don’t care who you are; love yourself and show a little knee this year. You deserve it! I went to a lot of church camp, so my counselors all wore what might be considered “modest” clothing, hence my choices here; but if you want to show more leg, do it! My favorite part of sleepaway camp was the camp dance, because everyone would put on that one dress their mom packed them and stand around the basketball court drinking our first sodas in three weeks. A nice denim dress or skirt can fancy your outfit up a bit while still being extremely utilitarian for all the stuff you’ve gotta get done.
Counselors wear one pieces. It’s a thing. I felt like my one pieces made me look like a nerd, but theirs were always so cool??? Turns out, you too can have a cool one piece! Get something bright and colorful or something with a witty pun on it, and you’re good as gold.
The number one accessory to make this style work is a backpack. Camp counselors are notorious for wearing backpacks containing literally everything, literally all of the time. Forgot your sunscreen? Got some. Need a band-aid? Here’s a plain one and a neon one. Have some contraband gum. Here’s an extra friendship bracelet I keep around. (Counselor backpacks were magical; perhaps that’s why I’m a backpack person instead of a tote person or a purse person.) Once you’ve got your backpack, you can accessorize with athletic socks, friendship bracelets, temporary tattoos, and summer-themed earrings. It’s a look, friends. Go for it.
Your shoes should help keep you on your feet all day, so comfortable soles and/or ankle straps are almost always a must. These summer shoes say, “I’m adventurous and also practical” — and honestly, what’s more attractive than a person who wears sensible shoes?
Friends, I hope this was nice for you. I can’t wait to hear about all your summer camp crushes of yesteryear!