Sunday, July 20, 2008

Define "Camp"

The word "camp" is used here in Maine in ways I've never heard before. Like the way the British say "hospital" without an article in front of it ("I took her to hospital" instead of "I took her to the hospital" or "a hospital"), so Mainers and Mainiacs use the word camp without an article. It's not uncommon to hear, "Are you going to camp this weekend?" But they don't mean the verb "to camp," and they aren't referring to the noun for an established summer camp like Girl Scout camp. They're referring to summer homes, generally on lakes or near water, often very rustic, where families have gone for generations to wile away lazy summer days. I actually first heard the term in Louisiana, but then there are so many similarities between Cajun things in Louisiana and Franco-American things in Maine that I'm not surprised.

These are sentences I've heard so far using the word "camp":
We went to open camp Saturday. (Everyone in the family--different generations and in-laws--like a family reunion but more like a work party--all went to the family homestead camp and cleaned it up and aired it out and opened it up to get ready for camp season, i.e., summer)
My mother's family has camp on Big Pond. (All the family and extended family on her mother's side of the family goes to the same cottage/cabin/house every summer on Big Pond. In this sentence, it can often mean that there are several different buildings on the same land or on nearby pieces of land where different families that are all related go every summer so that all the cousins can play together.)
What time are you going to camp this afternoon? (A family (mom, dad, 2 sons) that we sat with at the 4th of July parade, was there with extended family (both sets of grandparents AND two sets of great grandparents, a brother and sister-in-law, I think a sister and brother-in-law but I lost track, and lots and lots of little kids). All those generations and barely-related folks were going to a plot of land on a nearby lake that had several structures (cabin/cottage/house) that somehow all belonged to all of these people and they had a big 4th of July picnic planned at that location.)

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