One recurring comment we get from people after they’ve watched Kamaji’s video is how happy our campers are!! Too, Kamaji campers will tell us “I’m a happy camper” and Kamaji camper parents write us “Our daughter came home a happy camper!”
Admittedly flattered by the comments, I could not agree more about the euphoria of Kamaji’s campers. Happy campers to the max!!
Oh-oh – not so fast!! Google-searching the definition of happy camper, I learn that happy camper, while on the one hand implies satisfaction and contentment, on the other it is often used in a negative contradictory way.
No one is really clear as to where happy camper, a phrase in use since 1983, originated. It is thought that the expression came from a line delivered by Chevy Chase in the movie Vacation and was made more popular after former Vice President Dan Quayle (foolishly) used it in an address during a visit to American Samoa where he told his audience “You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.”
Regardless of where it originated, the expression happy camper is oftentimes used in a way that contradicts the happy Kamaji campers seen on camp’s video!!
HAPPY CAMPER (noun): (1) a person who is pleased with the situation in which s/he finds him/herself. Often used in the negative; as, the passengers left behind on the island were not a bunch of happy campers. www.thefreedictionary.com; (2) A person who is very pleased or content. Example: When he saw the report card, he was not a happy camper. Usually used with a negative www.dictionary.com (3) a person who is pleased or happy, — usually used in negative contexts. It is not a group of happy campers that gets off the bus (Randon House Historical Dictionary of American Slang); (4) to be satisfied, also “not a happy camper” is said to someone who looks unhappy. www.coolslang.com; and, (5) a person who is very pleased (usually used with a negative): “He was not a happy camper after he lost his license”. www.dictionary.babylon.com.
(I guess then were I to apply the definition correctly from its meaning found in several dictionaries, I could safely say “Dan Quayle’s was anything but a “happy camper” given the ridicule targeted at him following that “wish-I-could-take-that-back” happy camper quote.)
In a word-or-two, happy camper, then, does not necessarily suggest what one would think. If you get my meaning (pun intended).
Kamaji’s campers, who are anything but not happy campers are arguably so much more than simply “content” or “satisfied” campers as well.
So what would be an appropriate expression describing those Kamaji campers who, in the Kamaji video, are bubbling over with laughter, singing at the top of their lungs, playing happily with camp friends, smiling hugely, joyously living camp life large??? Given that happy camper with its negative connotation no longer seems fitting, I coin the expression Kamaji Camper.