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The Dictionary of American Slang suspects the phrase to have originated among California movie and show-business people and suspects the reference is to child clients of summer camps.
- Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see happy camper.
- (chiefly US, informal) One who is thoroughly content or satisfied.
- I will be a happy camper when they fix the potholes on my commute.
- 1997, Roz Denny Fox, Sweet Tibby Mack, page 132:
- "Call, but you can't fight union regulations" / "You're probably right. Still, their boss needs to know I'm not a happy camper."
- 2008, Deepa Kumar, quoting Ron Carey, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike, Appendix, page 194:
- I had kept telling people that this company would be looking for a victim to pay for this. They would not let it go. And it wasn't just them—look at all the Mob guys I threw out of the union. They weren't happy campers.
- Synonym: happy bunny