There could be an entire of film genre devoted to the topic of summer camp.  A quick, non-exhaustive, unprofessional search yielded summer camp movies ranging from horror films to comedy and everything in between.  I have my favorites.  I’m sure you have yours.  For fun, I thought I’d share my top 5. 

Meatballs

 

#1:    MEATBALLS 

For my money, there is no better summer camp movie.  Given the year it was made, even the risqué moments seem cute.  On the surface, the narrative follows the story of a young boy at camp for the first time who is struggling to find his place.  Bill Murray plays “Tripper,” the boys’ camp director, who serves as guardian angel for the misfits in camp.  You wanted Tripper at your camp when you were a kid.
Many of the songs my generation associates with summer camp came out of this movie – as did a lot of the games.  There are inter-camp competitions with the ritzy camp down the road.  There is swimming, archery, canoe trips, as well as a lot of comedy. 

Some of the movies on my list were made for children, some were written for adults.  This movie was filmed with an adult audience in mind, but it’s tame language and complete lack of violence may meet your criteria for a pre-teen classic.  Watch it before sharing it with your kids.  For more information, visit   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079540/.  

 

  

Indian Summer

 

#2     Indian Summer 

For sheer star power, I have to put this one in the #2 spot.  This movie, which chronicles a camp alumni weekend during which the long-time camp director announces his retirement, features Alan Arkin, Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Kevin Pollack, Sam Raimi, and many more.  Unlike some summer camp movies, this classic reminisces about both the good times and the bad.  

This is not a kids movie – the storyline would put them to sleep.  There are no special effects.  But if you have strong memories of your experiences at summer camp, this movie will draw them out.  A friend of mine and fellow camp director, Dan Reynolds (http://www.akronymca.org/rotarycamp.aspx), shows this to his summer camp counselors every year.  For more information, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107212/.

Camp Rock

 

#3    CAMP ROCK
 
Now this is a kid’s movie – it is Disney, afterall.  Picture Cinderella at summer camp.  She works in the kitchen because she can’t afford the tuition.  Are you with me?  Now, imagine that the Prince (a Jonas Brother) hears Cinderella singing instead of being left with a glass slipper.  Still with me?  So the Prince must find Cinderella by listening to every girl sing.  You’ve got the plot.  It’s cute, relevant, and the music is not half bad. 
Unlike the first two movies on my list, this one does not rely on the summer camp motif.  It could happen in a high school, at college, or in some more fantastical setting.  For more information, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1055366/.

Camp Nowhere

 

 #4  Camp Nowhere 

You may have missed this one upon its release back in 1994 – I did – but it is fun.  It stars Christopher Lloyd, and features a very young Jessica Alba, in an improbable plot that may be any young rebel’s dream.  In an attempt to avoid traditional summer camps, a group of friends blackmail their old drama teacher (Lloyd), to pose as the director for a fictional camp – one without counselor’s, parents, or bullies.  It sounds pretty good until other kids start signing up for it, too. 

This is a movie for kids, but everyone can get a smile out of it.  For more information, visit  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109369/

The Parent Trap

 

#5    The Parent Trap 

This is a classic – and I’m referring to the re-make.  If you never saw either version of this film, you missed a cute story your family will enjoy.  Dennis Quaid and a young Lindsay Lohan  are the biggest names in the 1998 version.  I will not try and provide a synopsis for this one.  Suffice it to say that the first third of the movie takes place at summer camp where twin girls, both played by Lohan, hatch a plan to get their parents back together.  

For more information, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120783/

Friday the 13th

 

Honorable Mention:    Friday the 13th 

I can’t leave the Camp Film Genre without referring to Friday the 13th, the original – with Kevin Bacon.  Camp Counselors sneak back to camp to party and it all goes so wrong.  

It goes without saying, this is not for kids.  For more information visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080761/

So, there you have it.  My top 5 summer camp movies are on the books.  Take the poll at the bottom of this post and cast your vote.  There are a lot more summer camp movies out there to enjoy. 

We’ll see you at Camp! 

Nathan 

Be sure to visit Nathan’s camp, The South Mountain YMCA Camps, at www.smymca.org.

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