My latest project: Rebecca’s camp uniform, inspired by her mystery Secrets at Camp Nokomis, and created from the cover art and historical photos from the book! Before I take off on a gleeful monologue (I really am very excited), I first must say this: I love camp. Love. One time, in middle school, I went to Girl Scout camp three different times in the same summer. My best memories of high school are attending music camp every summer. In college I worked as a counselor at a fine arts camp. It was a uniformed camp and can you guess what my feelings are towards camp uniforms? From the enthusiasm that I have displayed thus far, you can probably correctly surmise that I love them. The the snappy aesthetic created by a sea of identical campers and counselors, the feeling of unity and camaraderie, not to mention the ease of getting dressed in the morning, are all vastly appealing to me. (Sidebar: how do I feel about Molly’s Camp Gowonagin uniform you ask? Well, I own three, if that answers the question.)
When I read Rebecca’s mystery Secrets at Camp Nokomis, I knew right away that I was going to have to make her a historically accurate camp uniform from 1916. If you have never read any of the American Girl mysteries, I definitely recommend them. I really like all of them. Secrets of Camp Nokomis is really good, though calling it a mystery is maybe a bit of a stretch. The ending is fairly obvious from the beginning (not all of the AG mysteries are like that, some really are suspenseful) but it is a good story with really excellent historical insight. It deals with the polio epidemic, which is cool because the story sharply contrasts the Maryellen’s–in the 1950’s there was hope and celebration at the advent of a vaccine, whereas in the early 1900’s there were pretty much just quarantined apartment buildings and general despair. The whole reason Rebecca was going to summer camp was to get out of the city and be in the healthier country air. Camp was a relatively new concept in Rebecca’s time, but it’s really fun to read about it and realize that there are still a lot of similarities between camp now and camp a hundred years ago!
Below is the cover of the book, on which you can get a bit of an idea of what Rebecca’s uniform would have looked like, but even better is the actual, authentic photograph in the back “Peek in Into the Past” section. The book mentions that girls wearing bloomers was somewhat scandalous at the time, but the campers loved it!
Campers also would have worn tennis shoes, another relatively new concept. The Keds company was founded in 1916, the same year this story takes place, so I chose canvas tennis shoes that resemble Keds to complete Rebecca’s uniform!
Rebecca is ready for camp! I had an absolute blast creating this outfit!
For one final anecdote, I will share with you a dialogue between my husband and myself today:
Him: “Oh, is this the new outfit you made?”
Me: “Yes, it’s Rebecca’s camp uniform!”
Him: “Oh, cool!” *studies it carefully* “…are you going to add a patch to it?”
Me: “What do you mean? What kind of patch?”
Him: “You know, one that says Camp Gowonagin.”
Me: “Oh! Well, that’s for a different doll and a different decade, but you have absolutely no idea how much I love that you know what Camp Gowonagin is!”