Modeling Camp Teaches Teens Basics of Runway Business

ABC News' Suzanne Yeo and Diana Perez-Rodgers report:

When most people think of summer camp, they envision songs around a campfire and telling scary stories in a cabin. There's a new kind of camp, however, and it teaches modeling to teenage girls.

"It's summer camp, just like soccer camp or golf camp or math camp," Heather Cole, the founder of Modeling Camp, said, adding that the participants "are there for the week and everybody's a model."

The teens who attend the camp at a luxury New York City hotel dream of being just like Gisele Bundchen, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and other instantly recognizable superstars of the runway.

At a price tag of nearly $1,000 per week - not including lodging - the girls get exposure to industry professionals. They also receive professional photos and training on the catwalk.

They even meet with representatives from top modeling agencies such as Elite and Wilhelmina.

"I met like 35 girls and I probably have my eye on like three," a rep from Wilhelmina said.

The model camp business is booming. Girls come from as far away as London and Venezuela. Modeling Camp also takes place in Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto and McLean, Va.

"It definitely builds your self-confidence," 12-year-old Wren Schmith, a participant, said.

Sarah Slade, 13, of Vermont, said she went through a phase where she wanted to be a veterinarian.

"But basically, as long as I could remember, I've wanted to be a model," she added.

Television programs such as "America's Next Top Model" and "Project Runway" are drawing more girls' interest to the industry, Cole said.

While some critics wonder whether modeling camp is a good idea, considering that the industry has been plagued by issues like eating disorders and underage exploitation, the camp's counselors say they avoid such topics.

"It's not appropriate. It's not our place," Cole said. "It's summer camp … it's just a fun, healthy, positive environment for the girls to be a model in."

In addition to teaching the art of posing, the program also focuses on inner beauty.

"...This camp is a really good camp for giving positive things," said Candy Slade, the mother of 13-year-old Sarah.

For some of the girls, however, camp can sometimes be a little too real, such as when a girl is told she doesn't have the right height for one modeling agency.

Despite that, the emphasis is on making every girl feel beautiful. The camp culminates with a catwalk show for parents.

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