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'Camp Camp:' a hardcover homage to gawky teens in the great outdoors

L.L. BEAN can't keep Blucher mocs in stock. Cargo shorts and moccasins are everywhere. Bottega Veneta is making . . . $5,000 camp stools. Summer '08 is in full swing, and half the world looks as if it's dressed for a camp skit.

Or maybe it's just a serious bout of camp nostalgia. Because one look at the real thing and you've got to wonder.

Roger Bennett and Jules Shell have immortalized the mix of awkward teen campers, the great outdoors and tube socks in their new book, "Camp Camp" (Crown, $24.95). It picks up where their "Bar Mitzvah Disco" left off, inviting us to revisit those regrettable '80s fashion choices, camp crushes and stop-at-nothing stunts to be cool.

Long lazy days, first loves, headgear . . . this hardcover homage to camp life is full of cringe-worthy pictures of girls with skyscraper bangs, wearing white Keds and -- the "Prada of the '80s" -- Esprit. And then there are the boys, who seem to celebrate their impending manhood in minuscule shorts, bowl cuts and wristbands. The campers' stories run alongside collages of letters home and scrapbook shots -- the memories weirdly vivid and filled with longing.

One ex-camper, David Wain, remembers being 19 and feeling, "I just had to go back and experience the campfires, open spaces and sweaty, hot, sexy fun that is camp life one more time. . . ."

And apparently he never got over it: In 2001, he made "Wet Hot American Summer."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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