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Summer camp lingo: The 101

Heading to summer camp for the first time? This glossary of words will help you learn the language before you go.

Author: Camp Leaders
25 Oct 14:29

If you’re heading to summer camp for the first time then there’s a lot of new language to learn. You’ll be thrown into the camp bubble and you’re going to love every second of it. However there WILL be times when staff and campers use words that make no sense to you, so here it is the ‘Camp Lingo’ glossary of words you probably need to know.

The blob

An inflatable device located on the lake. It’s fun.


Stands for 'Big Name on Camp' and is used to describe the camp celebrities. For the Kardashian counselors who have usually spent about 10 summers at camp.

Buddy system

A NASA engineered system that pairs campers with each other to keep them safe when their swimming. A buddy 'check' will be used to make sure that each camper is safe.

Bug juice

Usually raw red in colour this liquid fuel is served as a refreshing quench thirster at meal times.

Camp goggles

You'll find out what this is through the natural course of time.

Care package

A postal delivery sent by parents, often containing playing cards, clean clothes, letters and camp contraband (candy).


A delicious high-calorie snack consisting of ice cream sandwiched together by two choc chip cookies.


CIT & LIT stands for Counselor in Training or Leader in Training.

They are the oldest campers on camp, usually around 16 years old. They spend half the summer joining in on camp activities and the other half preparing and learning to become a counselor.


A counselor who used to be a camper. They've since grown up and will spend a large amount of the summer complaining how everything used to be 'more fun when they were a camper'. An ex-camper will usually have a car at camp though which provides them with a valuable bargaining chip for being included in day off activities.

Friendship bracelets

Wrist bracelets made up of your favourite colours or the camp colours. 3 knots are tied, one for you, one for the friend and one for the camp.


A 'last man standing' game similar to dodgeball. It's played in an octagonal structure and the aim is to eliminate every player by hitting them below the knees with an inflatable ball. This game separates the boys from the men and originates from the first Olympic Games in Athens.


When others summer camps come to your camp to compete in tournaments.


The greatest American party sport of all time.


Not to be confused with a Mike Tyson style right hook. Knock-out is a modern basketball game played with a large group of people.

You stand in a single line behind the free-throw line on a basketball court. The first and second people in the line are the active players each with a basketball. The first person shoots the basketball to try score a basket, as soon as the first person has shot, the second player becomes active. If the first person scores first they are still in the game and the ball is passed to the next person in line. If the second person hits the basket before the first person then that person is ‘knocked-out’.

The game repeats until only one person remains. They are then the King of Camp…until the next game.

Liquid sunshine

Rain. It never rains at camp, and if it does, it’s because they planned it to.


Stands for 'On Duty'. This means you’re assigned to looking after a bunk at night when other counselors have time off camp in the evening.

Sloppy Joe's

A traditional American lunch dish. It’s kind of like spicy mince served on a soft bap roll. A camp classic.


A tasty wee treat cooked over a campfire. This little golden (often burnt & blackened) delight is written deep into summer camp history. Rumour has it, no-one has ever made the 'perfect' s'more.

Tribal war

An all-camp event split into various teams. It’s like school sports day, the olympics and a full on war all rolled into one epic competition.

Tribal break

Tribal Break is when the camp announces that Tribal War has started.


This is a specialised trip leader. They spend most of their time wearing a hard hat and climbing clips whilst shouting 'belay on, belay off' at campers.


Toilet Paper.

So there you have it! The 101 starter pack to summer camp lingo! What did we miss?

Camp Leaders
With over 20 years of travel experience, the Camp Leaders team has the answers to almost anything you can think of. We're here to help you sort your ultimate summer - feel free to ask us anything.

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