Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Don’t be Camp at Camp

My treatment of the adjective camp obviously caught Doug Schulek-Miller off guard. I thought his reaction worth sharing:

My children go to camp in the summer (and there is nothing homosexual  or kitsch about them!)

  • I made a camp in the forest when we stayed outdoors.
  • I camped on my neighbour’s doorstep so that I wouldn’t miss him.

I am confused, as I understand you will likely get a lot of other responses like this despite noting that you are talking an adjectival sense.

Apoplectically yours,

The same word reminded Harry Murphy how folks down East in Maine use the noun camp a bit different from the way it is used farther south:

Your recent description of “camp” as an adjective neglected “camp” as a noun.  As an expatriate from Maine, I prefer to think of “camp” as a noun.

In his “Maine Lingo”, John Gould defines “camp” this way:  “CAMP:  The general word in Maine for a wilderness dwelling, no matter how elegant.  It can be a one-room log cabin or the sumptuous retreat of land-owning executives.  Not always, but in many instances Mainers will use ‘camp’ for a building others would call a cottage.  ‘Going to camp’ does not mean tenting out in Maine, but moving to the cottage on the lake or in the  woods for the season, or for a vacation.”

‘Going camp’ to me means dressing tacky, so Maineiacs should be careful not to drop the “to” in ‘Going to camp’ when talking to out-of-staters.

I didn’t include all the other meanings of camp in my treatment because I wanted all my readers to finish reading it in a day.

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