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1630s, "soldier," agent noun from camp (v.). Meaning "attendee at a camp meeting" is from 1806; meaning "one who sleeps in temporary quarters outdoors" is from 1856; that of "motor vehicle with sleeping quarters" is from 1960. Extended use of happy camper is from c.1987.
"place where an army lodges temporarily," 1520s, from French camp, from Italian campo, from Latin campus "open field, level space" (also source of French champ; see campus), especially "open space for military exercise."
A later reborrowing of the Latin word, which had been taken up in early West Germanic as *kampo-z and appeared originally in Old English as camp "contest, battle, fight, war." This was obsolete by mid-15c. Transferred to non-military senses 1550s. Meaning "body of adherents of a doctrine or cause" is 1871. Camp-follower first attested 1810. Camp-meeting is from 1809, originally usually in reference to Methodists.
"tasteless," 1909, homosexual slang, of uncertain origin, perhaps from mid-17c. French camper "to portray, pose" (as in se camper "put oneself in a bold, provocative pose"); popularized 1964 by Susan Sontag's essay "Notes on Camp." Campy is attested from 1959.
"to encamp," 1540s, from camp (n.). Related: Camped; camping.
[origin uncertain; perhaps, as noted in 1909, referring to a sense ''actions and gestures of exaggerated emphasis,'' it is fr French se camper, ''put oneself in a bold, provocative posture,'' attested fr the mid-1600s; the more modern senses were revived, introduced, and popularized in Susan Sontag's essay ''Notes on Camp,'' published in 1964]
During their journeys across the wilderness, the twelve tribes formed encampments at the different places where they halted (Ex. 16:13; Num. 2:3). The diagram here given shows the position of the different tribes and the form of the encampment during the wanderings, according to Num. 1:53; 2:2-31; 3:29, 35, 38; 10:13-28. The area of the camp would be in all about 3 square miles. After the Hebrews entered Palestine, the camps then spoken of were exclusively warlike (Josh. 11:5, 7; Judg. 5:19, 21; 7:1; 1 Sam. 29:1; 30:9, etc.).
in military service, an area for temporary or semipermanent sheltering of troops. In most usage the word camp signifies an installation more elaborate and durable than a bivouac but less so than a fort or billet