As summer begins to wind down, there are only a few more weeks left to pitch a tent and sleep under the stars. There are still those who like to ‘rough it,’ but many campgrounds today are overrun with giant RVs and mobile homes with most if not all of the luxuries of home.
Campers in the early 1900s did not have all of the options that we do today. The camping movement that occurred around the turn of the century was born from the child labor movement. It was designed to improve the lives of children who lived in poor, overcrowded cities by developing civic responsibility, intellect, and physical and social skills and to bond with nature. And as cities became more crowded, people were looking for activities away from the hustle and bustle. Camping was no longer a necessity for hunters, lumberjacks, and other mountain men. It became a recreational activity for the whole family in every class.
Rockford’s Chautuaqua was a very popular two-week long event that offered lectures on cultural, political, and social topics as well as Buffalo Bill’s exciting Wild West Show. Those who attended often camped in tents during those two weeks while they enjoyed the festivities.
Campers did not often have special equipment for camping – they brought what they already had. Rugs and carpets from home made up the floor, and campers sat in wicker or rocking chairs from their own porches.
Many ladies, like those in the photographs above, wore their everyday clothing, blouses and skirts, while camping. This outfit is an example of what ladies began wearing during the 1910s. It’s militaristic style is similar to men’s uniforms worn during WWI.
Many of our camping traditions have remained the same in the last 100 years, such as canoeing with family and friends. What are your camping traditions? How are they similar or different?