For the young Liz Claiborne in your family: Fashion Camp!

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When I was ten, my mother sent me off to Boy Scout camp for the first time with a bar of soap and the desperate hope that I would actually use it. While I clearly remember showering once or twice, I ended up bringing the same bar of soap to three years of camp. At the end of three years, it was still possible to read the word "Ivory" carved on top.

What do you want? I swam a lot, and that counts as cleaning...sorta.

At any rate, it's pretty clear that camp has changed a lot since I was a kid. A few years back, I helped do some organizational work for a summer camp at my university; while "Creative Writing Camp" sounds a little silly, I realize that it is no stranger than computer camp, drama camp, band camp, horseback riding camp, fat camp, dance camp, ballet camp, or any of the other camps that I've heard about.Recently, though, I learned about one camp that definitely takes the cake: Fashion Camp.

While I realize that there's nothing inherently strange about a fashion camp, I can't get over the incongruity. For me, camp means tents, marshmallows, campfires, dining halls, bug spray, and, yes, extreme personal filth. It involves swimming, hiking, tree-climbing, boating, and dozens of other outdoor activities, laced with obnoxious singing, communal living, and pranks. Fashion Camp sounds a little too...I don't know...civilized.

Still, Fashion Camp NYC doesn't lack for activities. The program, which is located at LIM, the College for the Business of Fashion, lasts for five days, during which campers develop their own individual brands. For inspiration, they take field trips to various high-end department stores, including Barney's, Neiman-Marcus, and Bendel's. Fashion Camp's counselors are also a major departure from the standard college and high school students that staff camps: they are professionals on loan from companies like Coach and Liz Claiborne.

At the end of the summer, these kids will have a deeper understanding of how fashion works and will have taken their first steps toward a career in the industry. My camp, on the other hand, taught me the kind of skills that would only come in handy if I decided to become an arsonist or mountain man. For that matter, the fashion campers will probably end up with a lot fewer ticks and will use a lot more soap.

Still, it just doesn't seem right to have a camp without a canoe...

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. His wife can't understand why he has fond memories of camp.
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