What Makes a Good Summer Camp Shirt?

The summer camp shirt is a rocking piece of gear that anyone at summer camp owns. In this episode, we discuss the things that go into making the best summer camp shirt. Each summer camp, every year will want to give this episode a listen!

Transcript from the podcast

Hello everyone and welcome to There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. I’m your host, Andrew Waterhouse. And in this episode, we’re talking about what makes a good camp T-shirts. So come on into our tent and I’ll spill the beans

We’re back again with another episode on a Tuesday keeping up that streak. And yeah, in this week’s episode, we’re looking at what makes a good camp t-shirt. So let’s hop straight in.

The meaning of T-Shirts from Camp

In the couple of years that I’ve been doing Camp America, I’ve got a fair few shirts to boots. Not only do you get the shirts from Camp America themselves with the logo emblazoned proudly on the front, you also get the shirts from camp. And typically you’re going to get one per year. And you might also get an extra bonus one depending on what happens during that year. So let’s go through the top things that will make a really good camp t-shirt.

The Year Emblazoned upon it

And first of all, is going to be the year. The year is a really important part of any camp t shirt.

It shows how long you’ve been at a camp. At least when I have been at my camps, I found that people really proudly wear their old shirts like to show that they’ve been there for so long. And they’ve like been through the hard times. They’ve been there through all the travesty. And all the banter that’s happened in previous years they were there for all those stories. So you want to make sure that your camp has a year, at least somewhere on it. Typically these are going to be found on the back of the shirt. So everyone can see like proudly like in a big two-digit format what year you went to camp for.

The name of your camp

The second point is the name of the camp. This goes without saying obviously you want your shirt to proudly say which camp you’re from.

Whether this will be on the front or the back is quite up for debate. Personally on our camp shirts, it was on the front if I remember rightly, it might have been on the back to thinking about it…

But there’s there can be no better place than a camp t-shirt proudly show which camp you’re from and what actually your shirts represent and all the stories that have because as soon as I say I’ve walked past someone in the UK that’s wearing a camp, a summer camp t-shirt, which let’s be honest, there really never happens. I don’t think I’ve seen it once happen. I would look at them and go, Whoa, you’re gonna have the same sort of stories that I did. And that’s kind of a similar thing when you’re in America say when people would be wearing them.

Summer Camp shirts at the Airport

Yeah, I think a name is a really obvious thing that needs to be going on a shirt. I have a little story about camo shirts as well because I remember in my first year of actually going into camp and this is all covered in the There’s No Place Like Summer Camp book, by the way. I was at the airport in Newark, which is New York. It’s I think it’s the alternative to the JFK there’s like two different airports. Anyway, I’m going on a tangent… so I was at Newark. And it really surprised me to see how many people were walking through the terminals with summer camp T-shirts on and typically these would be the Camp America’s, the Camp Leaders sort of shirts, they weren’t typically the shirts you get directly from the camp, but they were there. And it just goes to show, like in the right place people wear these shirts as often as they can.

Wearing your shirt outside of camp

Especially when you’re going to be travelling around America after you’ll proudly wear your summer camp T-shirts. It’s not like they’re an embarrassment or anything and the only reason that I don’t think that people really wear them in the UK is that in my case at least if you have some sort of shrine for your shirts, I’ll try and make sure to upload my shrine onto my website, see podcast-bits. I actually have my T-shirt from summer camp framed and with photos of the guys that I used to go to summer camp with to remember like that was that actually happened always be grateful for doing Camp America and stuff. So I think that’s part of the reason why they don’t really get worn out and about because you don’t want to get that normal wear and tear. And you don’t really want to be adding stains on top of the lovingly created stains from being a camp kind of thing. So yeah, every t shirt can be unique and if you start wearing it outside, well that’s your own decision.

Distinctiveness in a summer camp t shirt

Personally, I have a shrine dedicated for mine. Okay, so the third point out of five here for a good camp t-shirt is its distinctiveness. So I went to Camp twice, and my two camp T-shirts are very, very similar. Rather than being a change of colour from a blue shirt to a red, and the numbers 2014 change to 2015, there really isn’t much change between the two shirts, which during my second year, I found a bit disappointing really. I thought, I’d get a bit of a change of font, a change of design in general, it didn’t really happen for me personally. So having a bit of distinctiveness between the two years or even like the year, year to year basis, they should really be quite distinctive, whether that be a change your font, a change of image.

A second year shirt

Obviously, you’re going to have the change of the year, the change of the layout as well, there are so many things that can be done with the shirt. So I think for my second camp, my second-year camp shirt was actually slightly comfier compared to the first show because already, I already kind of had it. So I think distinctiveness is definitely going to be something that people are going to be looking forward to on their shirts. And speaking of shirts, these shirts will apply to staff, obviously, the counsellors, the specialists, as we call them in our camp, but also the campers as well. A lot of the campers like to go and buy these after camp has finished. Typically around camp, it’s just going to be the staff that are going to be wearing these shirts just to like kind of create that little bit of a divide, showing parents that they’re coming to your camp and we’re here to serve kind of thing. I think that’s the main reason for shirts, but some camps do sell them to their campers as well. So yeah.

The T-Shirt Announcement

Okay, so what makes some other good shirts are to do with how it’s announced.  You become accustomed to announcements at camp, and they are really like I wouldn’t say stereotype, the kind of stereotypical like, yeah, we’re at summer camp, but I wouldn’t say they’re actually like, they can be cringy. But they can that’s like part of the charm kind of thing. So I’m not exactly slating the announcements that are made at camp. But there can be plenty of fun announcements around particularly shirts, for example, color war being one.

Maybe trips as well that the campers would go on, you get these fun, quirky announcement types how you received your shirt. I remember how I got both of my two shirts from summer camp were from going in for the presentation for the end of the staff week we had and then at the end of the staff week saying congratulations and all that stuff. They said hey, you go here’s your shirts. Welcome to our camp! And I was like, oh, yeah, now I’ve been up now I’m a part of the clan.

Part of the Summer Camp Clan

Like, I’ve been hanging around with these guys for like a couple of weeks and have finally been like indoctrinated into their summer camps. I felt like I’d been passed the test kind of thing. And I think that’s kind of what a camp t-shirt kind of represents as well is that you’ve, you’ve made it your staff member, let’s crack on with camp. So I think part of how it’s announced is a big part of actually what makes a good summer camp shirt.

Summer Camp Folklore T-Shirts

So finally here we have the image and the stories behind summer camp shirts, because summer camp shirts aren’t just a thing that camp like to do. They’re also a thing that the staff members like to create off their own backs. Pardon the pun. So if there’s a really fun story of this year so exact for example, in one of my camps is actually the first year I did it. Here’s some backstory now. I was the Outdoor Living Specialist at my camp and what we did was set up campfires, smalls and tents. And we’d just take the kids away for like a couple of days and stay in a different campsite than they’re normally used to going on hikes and canoe trips and you know, having a ripe old blast playing in the rivers getting in touch with nature and it was really cool. But one of these campouts that we did was absolutely pissing it down. And the tents ended up having puddles of water inside and they were all flooded. So they had to use their towels to try and get rid of this flood.

The Great Flood T-Shirt at my camp

Anyway. So me and my co, we left these kids so that they were fully like supervised and stuff, but it wasn’t part of our role to actually stay with these groups. So we left, we went back to camp and then later on the next day, we found out that these campers and their counsellors were faced with another thunderstorm again later on after we left, which meant their whole tents were soaked and puddled and flooded. No one got any sleep. And they had no towels to dry them up with. And that made it onto a camp t-shirt because of how rememberable of a bad campout it was, it was no nothing to do with like me or mocking me, or my co doing anything wrong. It was more Mother Nature at its work. And they came over to us when we were having our dinner one day and they were like, oh my God hate you! In like, really, really funny way because they knew that it wasn’t our fault. But that was kind of that story of like, oh my god, did you survive that? And just seeing the tents when they came back.

What its like being part of camper T-shirt Folklore

But it was really like clear to see that they had endured something that was beyond imagination. So they created their own shirt. And they came back to us in like two weeks’ time when everyone had one of these shirts that said I survived blah blah blah campout 2014, and it kind of made me a part of that lore. So that was like a famous point of this particular year at my summer camp. So it was really cool to see and having some sort of imagery on the front of the shirt, perhaps the back and having a bit of story behind why the summer camp has by the way the t-shirt has been created. Or even like how the summer camp has come to be something perhaps particularly memorable about that particular year. It all adds up to make a really good camp t-shirt.

In closing: Summer Camp T-Shirts

Okay, so we’ve come to the end of this one guys another episode down another Tuesday gone. I’m smashing these out of the park. I hope you really enjoying these on your podcast platform of choice. In the next episode, we are looking at how to choose a camp to work for so we’re slightly tilting the dial over to a bit more serious questions that maybe new people might be looking for.

While I’m just finishing up here, I’d like to make a quick plug for the website, theresnoplacelikesummercamp.com. There you’re also able to become a sponsor of the podcast. So if you’re if you think that you’ve been enjoying this episode, you’ve enjoyed all the podcasts so far, you’d be able to donate some dollars over to my little project and just to try and like you know, support me in creating all this content and stuff because I am really passionate about it. And hope I’m really providing something that’s fresh new entertaining into the summer camp podcast space.

Okay, guys, I’ll see you in the next episode. I hope you have a good week ahead. And I’ll see you next Tuesday.

There’s No Place Like Summer Camp is available now as a travel memoir book on Amazon! Check it out! 

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