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Camp couture: Summit offers fashion camp for girls


Ashley Medley

Voice Tribune

June 18, 2008

Mention the phrase “fashion camp” and most people see images of young women learning how to coordinate outfits, put on make-up and walk in high heels.

But The Summit shopping center’s fashion camps teach girls more than how to look pretty.

“Overall it has a fashion background, but it also has to do with personal development and self-confidence,” said Jo Ross, camp coordinator and leader.

The one-day sessions are geared for girls ages 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. Each session focuses on three stores within the shopping center, where campers learn how to put together and accessorize outfits. But they also visit stores that teach lessons in organization (Office Depot), how to find information (Barnes & Noble) and the importance of thank-you notes (Hallmark).

At the end of the session, campers have lunch at one of the center’s restaurants where they learn and practice good table manners and how to conduct themselves in a restaurant. The day ends with a graduation ceremony, where campers receive a certificate and goody bag that includes a $40 Summit gift card.

Because each day focuses on different stores, girls can sign up for multiple days. Each session is $60.

Participating stores work with Ross and Summit property manager Becky Norton beforehand to determine what lessons they will teach. At fashion stops, like Limited Too, Old Navy and Designer Shoe Warehouse, campers not only learn fashion terminology but public speaking skills, as they are asked to stand up in front of the group and explain their favorite pieces, Ross said.

This is the fourth year for the camp. The idea was originally Norton’s, who wanted to do something special for customers.

“As far as we know, this is the only program of its kind in the country,” Ross said.
Norton brought in Ross, a local fashion consultant who had also worked extensively with the Oxmoor Center Fashion Council and other local fashion groups.

“This is something different,” Ross said. “Not everybody can be a cheerleader or football player, so this is something for someone with different interests ... the most important thing I tell the girls is to have fun.”

The camps are extremely popular, with some sessions filling up well in advance.

The response from campers has been positive.

“I really like shopping. It’s fun going around to all the shops,” said Lucy Sweetall, 11.

For Lena Crum, 10, coming to fashion camp was a natural decision.

“My mom is in fashion and I like all kinds of fashion. I like to look at clothes and see what other people are wearing. It’s fun,” she said.

But Crum said the most important thing she’s learned isn’t about fashion at all.

“We learned to respect other people,” she said.




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