It was that tiny nook with the lopsided ceiling.
The one that we shut the door on, so nobody sees it. A catch-all for projects, a crash spot for over-served folks so they wouldn’t try to drive home. We called it “Father B’s room” (a dozen years ago, it was a resting spot reserved for his visits that soon became few and farther between). After his passing, it eventually became the “craft room” (a catch-all for overflowing everything). And the last-ditch spot reserved for our friends who drew the shortest straw.
I get sentimental about the little spaces. The ugly ones that nobody wants to stay in. Cold in the winter, too hot in the summer.
Simple truth: summer camps and modest resorts were never meant to be fancy. Most were, at best, just functional. Decoration for camp cabins typically meant a disposable $1.50 camp pennant. And nobody gave a damn. It’s the great social equalizer. Kids who came from trailer parks share the same mess hall as the kids who came from private schools and took European vacations.
It’s made me grow a soft spot for the ‘tramp art’, little Boy scout DIY projects, and just about anything that represents a humble effort to try to make things “pretty” even if just a bit. This little nest became the home to the stuff people considered second class. Souvenirs that where never intended to live more than a few years are scarce now. Tchotchkes having survived 50+ years take a place of honor in this little corner of Camp Wandawega.
So, we proud to announce the ugliest little room at camp, has just gotten a resurrection to return it to it’s humble roots, and will now be known as “THE SCOUT’S OFFICE”.
Here’s a breakdown of a ‘Found Free or Flea’ style make-over:
– FLOORS: Painted high-gloss National Park Brown (yes, that’s an actual color). Original pine boards – meant to be underlayment – totally beat to hell, 90 years of a well-worn story.
– CEILING: 1950’s popular “goldenrod.”
– WALLS: Knotty pine planks finished with old school ‘shellacing’ in amber. SIX coats to get it just the right ‘orange-y’ wall look that we remember from our grandparent’s smoke-stained basement rec-rooms.
– CURTAINS: 1940’s pinecone barkcloth (found here at camp years ago).
– BEDDING: Antique plaid barkcloth bedspreads (really just one full sized I cut in half.) The sheets are military issue from a cot supply warehouse that provides bedding for the majority of camps & institutions (read: low thread count)
– BUNKS: Standard issue military black metal. (these things are only a couple hundred bucks new- WITH mattresses! can’t beat that with a stick, as my dad would say.)
– LIGHTS: Tramp art (yardsale find for $10) with painted sinew shade (etsy) / $7 Home Depot wall sconce (outdoor industrial light, a re-issue of one of the most common type of fixture found at camps).
– RUG: Flat weave navajo rug (ebay). Totally cheated on this one and paid more than I’ve ever paid for a rug- $150. but still a steal, since its vintage and handmade. And that yellow ochre is so lovely it makes my heart hurt.
– WALL DECOR: a mix of stuff mainly I’ve already been hoarding. 40’s-60’s summer camp photos, souvenirs, projects. Original felt camp pennants. Camp director “Campaign” hat in it’s own brim press. Velvet chief pennant.
– DESK: Oak kid’s 1920’s scout desk. (My favorite local thrift store, $50)
– The under-bed 40’s metal storage trunk is covered in vintage travel stickers. The wall mirror was a alley find from the ’40s, the books are standard issue BSA manuals, log cabin building guides, and birdwatching books.
THIS CULMINATION OF EVERYTHING “UN-FANCY” makes us feel right at home. As we say in our “Manifesto of Low Expectations” not new and not improved since 1925. We’re trying hard to live up to that.