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    The best movies about summer camp, ranked

    Some of the children went to summer camp. Some children dream of going to summer camp. If you’re among the latter group (or even the former), you probably have a lot of your ideas about what summer camp looks like (or should be) from movies (or Salute your pants).


    The sweetest ’50s-style pictures of summer camps feature clever little uniforms, crafts, canoe excursions, and friends you’ll stay pen pals with for the rest of your life. Around the 1980s it started to raise the possibility of a serial killer lurking behind the cabins. These days, we even have a few documentaries that give us a peek into the real-life camp. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic for campfires or glad you’ll never have to go back, make yourself some s’mores and settle into one of our camp classics.

    10 Indian Summer (1993, Camp Tamaqua)

    Bill Paxton and Diane Lane in Indian Summer
    Walt Disney Studios

    We immediately start nostalgic, Indian summer It is all about summer camp nostalgia. Alan Arkin is about to retire as longtime summer camp director, and invites a group of his favorite former campers to a reunion. Former campers include Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Kevin Pollack, Elizabeth Perkins, and even Sam Raimi (a childhood friend of writer/director Mike Pender) now all in their 30s and experiencing some kind of life complication that comes with that. It’s kind of like if The greatest joy It took place at a summer camp reunion rather than a funeral, with all the wistful vibes a late summer can bring.

    9 Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Camp Ivanhoe)

    A group of campers looking into a tent in the Moonrise Kingdom
    Focus features

    Summer camp isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for Sam, or at least not after he meets Susie, who lives with her family on the same New England island as Camp Ivanhoe. They become pen pals and work out a detailed plan over the course of a year, which will pay off when Sam returns to the island for another summer at Camp Ivanhoe. Sunrise Kingdom Full of Wes Anderson’s usual style of kitsch, nostalgia, and quirky cast (this one includes Jason Schwarzman, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, with great performances from Jared Gilman as Sam and Kara Hayward as Susie), it’s a style that works well for a New England summer camp. In the sixties.

    Related: The best family summer vacation movies, ranked

    8 Camp (2003, Camp Option)

    Girl singing on stage in camp
    IFC Films

    This is the movie for kids who’ve done theater choirs and performances and would have loved nothing more than to do it all summer long. Based on stories from a real performing arts camp called Stagedoor Manor, a place where a group of kids deemed misfits at school can sing, dance, act and generally just be themselves (including Anna Kendrick in her film debut). there a lot from singing. The gist of the movie is the big benefit party, and it turns out that composer Stephen Sondheim will actually be attending (Sondheim himself is already making an appearance) and tensions run high as each camp wants to be the star of the show, and some resort to sabotage to make it happen. But it’s a musical about summer camp, and everyone eventually becomes friends again after a successful concert.

    7 Camp Jesus (2006, Kids on Fire Ministry School)

    A young girl looks up at Camp Jesus
    Magnolia Pictures

    This documentary is very different from summer camp. With the rise of the evangelical right to become a massive force in America, you may find yourself wondering what kids are like, and how they got that way. This will give you a good idea. The camp is in North Dakota, and most of the campers are home-schooled kids from conservative families who attend quaint churches, and the kids aren’t there to have fun; They are there to learn how to preach the gospel. Common topics of conversation in the cafeteria include how evil Harry Potter is, the pro-life movement, and prayers for the wisdom of then-President George W. Bush. It would be easy to say that kids are being pushed to their extremes, but the movie is much more nuanced than that, showing kids who have real belief in themselves in their ability to change the world, whether you agree with them or not. position.

    6 Ernest Goes to Camp (1987, Camp Kekaki)

    Jim Varney poses for campers in Ernest Goes to Camp
    Walt Disney Studios

    Jim Varney grew out of his humble acting career as Ernest B. He managed to exploit this on a Saturday morning sketch show that won a Daytime Emmy, and a string of Ernest films followed. Ernest Goes to Camp sees our hero working in maintenance but dreaming of becoming a counselor at Camp Kikakee, which he ends up doing after a particularly unkind counselor is unable to handle the cabin for juvenile delinquents. As in many children’s comedies from the ’80s, there is a plot by a sinister mining company to evade the camp’s owner, Chief St. Bonus: Ernest sings a deeply moving song called “Gee I’m Glad It’s Raining.”

    5 Dear Little Ones (1980, Camp Little Wolf)

    Girls lie on a rock with binoculars in Little Darlings
    Paramount Pictures

    This ’80s classic stars Tatum O’Neal, Christy MacNicol, Armand Assante, and Matt Dillon, and features the somewhat scandalous premise of a group of teenage girls in Atlanta heading off to summer camp, two of whom have the express goal of losing their virginity. . This becomes an obsession in the camp, as bets are placed on Angel or Ferris winning. Ferris plots to woo the older camp counselor and fall madly in love, while Angel fixates on a boy from the camp across the lake, more intent on ending things. This is not to say that the movie is sex talk (there are some camp routines, team sports, and staying up late talking in the cabin) but there is a lot of sex talk. The good news is that by the end of the movie, the two girls are happy with the choices they’ve made and have become close friends.

    4 Camp Kreib (2020, Camp Jind)

    The camp is at Camp Jenid at Camp Kreib
    Netflix

    Barack and Michelle Obama were executive producers of this Academy Award-nominated documentary about a camp in New York for teens with disabilities. The camp began in 1951, and a number of former campers became activists in the disabled rights movement. The documentary begins in the 1970s, when the camp was heavily influenced by the disorganized “hippie” feel that gave these teens (who often faced stigma, loneliness, and frustration at home) a freer, more independent environment where they could just be a regular teen, and experiment with romantic relationships and marijuana. An intensely personal film, the film was co-directed by James Liebrecht, a disability advocate and former camper who incorporated some of the film footage he shot there as a fifteen-year-old. The acclaim was universal, and the nominations and wins were multiple, with a critic for The Guardian He praised the film for highlighting a “forgotten struggle for equality”.

    3 The Parent Trap (1961, Miss Inch’s Girls’ Summer Camp; 1998, Camp Walden)

    Lindsay Lohan as twins reading a letter in The Parent Trap
    Walt Disney Studios

    The last thing we want is to be divisive, so we won’t be playing favorites between the 1961 and 1998 editions of parental trapBoth are classics in their own right. Both films had hordes of young girls checking out camp cabins to see if perhaps there wasn’t another camper quite like them. Hayley Mills did double duty as Suzanne and Sharon, and Lindsay Lohan as Haley and Annie, twins separated by their divorced parents until they are sent to the same camp. At first, the girls hate each other, and the camp setting offers ample opportunities for pranks and shenanigans. In true double entendre fashion, they plan to simultaneously teach their parents a lesson and try to get the family back together, leading to an exchange once camp is over. It’s a charming plot that would likely fail miserably in real life, but that’s what makes both movies so interesting.

    2 Friday the 13th (1980, Camp Crystal Lake)

    Three counselors look tense on Friday the 13th
    Paramount Pictures

    It’s the movie that spawned a franchise (and a thousand tropes) when two counselors sneak into Camp Silver Lake in the 1950s to have sex, but are murdered by an unknown killer. Twenty years later, a young counselor is on her way to the newly opened camp, where she is warned by a truck driver that a child drowned there years ago. The young chancellor (naturally) is indifferent and killed on arrival. It’s a classic game of carnage for teens who don’t pay attention to any of the very obvious red flags being frantically waved everywhere, and counselors are picked off one by one until the killer is revealed to be Mrs. Voorhees, who’s been out for camp counselors ever since. The spoiled 1950s couple snuck out rather than keep an eye on her son, Jason, who was a drowning victim. Friday the 13th It’s campy in every sense of the word, and it’s always fun to go back to the origins of the franchise to find out the origin that started it all.

    Related: The Best Summer Camp Horror Movies, Ranked

    1 Wet Hot American Summer (2001, Campfire)

    Camp Counselors at Wet Hot American Summer
    Focus features

    Now take every bit of campy memorabilia from past movies, add in a bunch of comedians, and you’ve got the best camp movie out there. Michael Showalter, Janian Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, and more are a group of famous camp counselors, and it’s not all about their charges on the last day of camp in 1981. There’s a talent show to offer, losing virginity under a timeline strict ; A camper has to take a shower before he gets home, and a piece of Skylab hurtling towards camp could destroy everything. It’s so ridiculous, we haven’t even gotten to the Vietnamese camp vet/chef getting his self-esteem from a can of vegetables. This speaks. It was a total flop upon release, and has since achieved triumphant cult status.

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