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A camp follower is any person who gets close to a person or group for their own gain. The term comes from the historical phrase used to describe people who were not employed by the army who followed the armed forces around. The term could be applied to the wives and children of the soldiers or wartime refugees who would stay close to the victorious army in hopes of securing food, protection, and other goods. In some cases the refugee camp followers would perform services, including sexual favors, in exchange for the items they needed.
In modern parlance, the term camp follower has come to describe an individual who spends time getting close with a celebrity or group of celebrities such as the cast of a television program or a musical group in hopes of becoming famous by association or enjoying the same lifestyle as the figures they pursue.
While the historical meaning of camp follower has fallen out of favor, the rise of celebrity culture has seen the newer translation of the term thrive.
Just as many historic camp followers served as prostitutes for the soldiers, a modern-day camp follower may also have a sexual relationship with the famous person he or she pursues. However, this is not always the case. When a sexual connection is made, the camp follower may also be known as a groupie.
Most camp followers insist that they have a strong affinity or interest in the celebrity or group that they pursue, but many members of society believe that these individuals are more attracted to their fame, money, or star status instead.