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Working the Catwalk

Campers complete week long fashion camp with fashion show.

On Friday, July 14, the stage at South County Secondary School was transformed into a runway fit for fashion week in New York City. Participants in Fairfax County Public School's third annual Fashion Camp produced a fashion show to demonstrate what they had gained during their week-long experience.

In its third year, Fashion Camp expanded to two locations as a result of its success the previous two years. South County Secondary School offered a five-day camp from July 10-14, while Westfield High School is set to offer the second session this week.

"The camp is open to rising first through eighth graders," said camp director Kay Walters. "Campers come from all different schools, but ideally South County feeder schools."

Close to 130 campers attended the camp that met from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

"We were broken up into five age groups," said first-time camper Nikki Walters, a rising seventh grader at Hayfield Secondary School. "Each day, we had special activities where we learned about skin care and etiquette or we made accessories and redesigned an outfit from home." Nikki chose to transform a pair of jeans from home into a skirt that she modeled at the fashion show.

IN ADDITION to modeling the styles they made for themselves, campers were provided with an outfit from either Target, J.C. Penney, or Old Navy, who worked in conjunction with the camp. "Our camp leaders chose outfits that would fit our personalities," said Nikki Walters.

Each age group was headed by two leaders from area high schools, who themselves have taken fashion merchandising and marketing classes. They worked with Target, J.C. Penney and Old Navy to select outfits from their back-to-school styles for the campers.

"The campers learned to do inventory on the borrowed clothes, which would be returned after the fashion show," said Paige Cerand, college intern and camp counselor. "The stores were so helpful, and Old Navy even sent a representative to talk at one of our trend sessions."

For Cerand, she saw changes in her campers that extended far beyond just an increased sense of style. "A lot of the girls came in on the first day and weren't even talking," she said. "By the end of the week, you could tell they were more comfortable with themselves and each other and it was great to see them come out of their shells and gain some confidence."

Confident they were as each age group first modeled the sponsored outfit, then the one they designed for themselves while performing a choreographed dance to up beat music. Parents filled the room provided by South County to capacity and took pictures of their young fashionistas.

Many of the campers have either participated in past years, or are planning to return next year. "It really gave me a different way of looking at fashion," said first-time camper Anna Burke, a rising eighth-grader at Rocky Run Middle School. "I used to think it was about brand names, but it's really about how you put things together."