The Costume Closet

In early July each summer, before chosen Boss Loggers are introduced to the camp in anticipation of Paul Bunyan Day, those four young men make a trek to the third floor of the Big House. To the costume closet. They’re looking for odd outfits in their colors — red, yellow, green, or blue. And really, are there anything but oddities in there?

Walking into the costume closet is a bit like stepping through the lookingglass. It is part thrift store — garish jackets and vests and gowns repurposed into something occasionally useful. It is part psychedelic scene — a rather hallucinatory collection of colors (every one of them) and smells (every kind of mothball). And it is part historical collection. Each goofy coat and silly hat has a story behind it — certainly in its original incarnation and usually regarding how it made its way to that sweltering third floor room.

And, of course, the stories continue to be told because those costumes often make their way into a Nebagamon summer narrative. Campers and staff trek there to find the perfect outfit of absurdity to complement announcements, GTC acts, Chef’s Cap judging, Council fire skits, Cruiser Day themes.

Need a group of yellow sport coats? Got it. A faux fur monstrosity? It’s hanging there. Something resembling a letterman’s jacket? OK. A couple of cheesehead hats? Check. A bright pink wig? Yup.

The costume closet is to high fashion what a camper outfit on laundry day is to high fashion. But if the clothes make the person, the quirks in the closet create the perfect make-believe person. They are ready-to-wear silliness — eccentric, eclectic, perfectly peculiar when the need arises.

So here’s a photo homage to that third floor treasure trove.