Movie Reviews, TV Reviews

Summer Camp in pop culture is my crossover

Within 10 minutes of meeting me, I’ll probably unintentionally bring up the fact that I am a camp person.

Prior to the pandemic it would have come up because I would have talked about about my Girl Guide involvement, or an Amici event I went to, or an Ooch camp weekend I just got back from. Any time I talked about travel it would come up – most likely because I’d try to tack on a weekend in Ireland to any European trip so I could go back to Barretstown. These days the majority of my zoom calls are camp zooms. Catching up with camp friends, virtual camps, talking about the future of camp. Even though this huge part of my life got ripped away when the pandemic hit, it’s still a big part of who I am.

Regardless – I really didn’t mean to bring it up, it just happens to be such a large part of my life it inevitably comes up quite quickly. But equally – within 10 minutes of meeting me, I’ll also probably intentionally bring up whatever TV show I’m watching at the current moment or the TV show that I’m currently working or recently worked on. TV is also a big part of my life – I work on it all day, and then I go home and watch it. Going to camp or volunteering in the camp world is my break from this cycle and a place I can put down the screens.

I actually started this blog because a mentor advised me to make my online presence more ‘TV’ because everything I was so camp focused.

So obviously – when I can find stuff to watch that is about summer camp – well, this is the crossover of my dreams.

If it’s about camp – I’ve probably seen it.

This week I unfortunately watched A Week Away.

From the trailer I knew it would be either my favourite movie or my I would absolutely hate it. There would be no middle ground.

I wanted to love this — so badly. It’s a musical about kids at camp. I knew that the “bad boy” got turned by going to camp, but I thought it was a movie about kid’s being saved by the camp experience (making friends, hanging out in nature etc) – but this was a movie about finding Jesus. I love a Mormon reality show – so shows with religious undertones don’t normally bother me, however this was religious overtones. Everything was about GOD and in this case, the Christian content was too much for me. Camp pulled me in but it wasn’t enough for me to stay. I actually stopped watching the movie halfway through because I was so annoyed.

I would give you a FULL review but honestly – it’s so not worth my time.

So instead I’m going to give you a list of my favourite camp tv shows and movies.

Crip Camp

This Oscar nominated documentary about a camp for kids with disabilities in the 1970s. I love watching kids realize their full potential at camp, and for these kids – when they realized their full potential they created a rights movement. 10/10 this is the best ‘why camp matters’ movie out there. It’s also a great movie for people who don’t ‘get’ camp. It’s just an all around fantastic film that everyone should watch.

Camp Getaway

For my Bravo reality fans out there. For one season we got a Bravo reality show about the adults who work as social coordinators at an Adult Summer camp in 2019. I loved it so much. The episode where they get in trouble for night swimming made me howl with laughter because this is a *real* issue at camp. I’ve seen people get fired for this and the anger in the directors eyes is real. It’s just such a messy show and I’m here for it.

Camp Takota

The year is 2014 – it’s the heyday of Youtube and the youtube girls Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, and Hannah Hart made a movie about going back to Camp as adults. It was so good. It just perfectly captured what camp was like in the 2010s. It just had so many quote-able moments and authentically felt like camp to me. It’s a cult fav for a reason.

The Parent Trap (OG – 1961)

The movie that started it all. I grew up on the Nancy Meyer’s version but I have such a soft spot for this movie because it’s the OG. The uniforms that the girls at Miss Inch’s Summer Camp for Girls wear are very Girl Guide-y which makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Then the song – Let’s Get Together – ICONIC. Just so much joy. I’m so glad that it’s now on Disney+.

The Parent Trap (Nancy Meyers – 1998)

This is truly one of my all time favourite movies. To the point where I have a framed movie poster on my desk. I have seen this movie so many times that I can recite full scenes – but more importantly, I’ve seen this movie so many times at camp. It is the ultimate bus movie that hypes you up about going to camp, it’s the rainy day in the lodge movie, it’s the movie you watch with your camp friends on days off. It has inspired many a tie-dye t-shirt (so you can help the people with their luggage), pranks (IYKYK), and twinners (dress like a twin at dinner) at camp. It is Lindsay Lohan at her best. Plus it’s Nancy Meyers. The KITCHENS. I just love it so so so so so much. If someone wants to get me a Camp Walden for Girls t-shirt that would be the ultimate gift. Just saying…

Side note – One day I will go to Napa and drink wine and caption all my photos with Meredith Blake quotes.

It Takes Two

This is the Mary-Kate and Ashley knock off Parent Trap movie. It has an iconic camp food fight scene. I used to watch this movie all the time but once we got rid of VHSs it’s hard to find. Plus as much as I love the camp of this movie, Mary-Kate and Ashely have better movies (Our Lips Are Sealed, Holiday in the Sun..).

Camp Rock

Filmed here in Ontario at Kilcoo – Camp Rock is a classic for a reason. Is it my favourite of the Disney movies, no. Do I love this song, yes:

Troop Beverly Hills

While this doesn’t take place at traditional summer camp – but they do Girl Guide camping multiple times and that’s my style of camping. I’ve been to multiple jamborees, countless weekend camps, and I’ve even had a few hotel nights with troops. If you haven’t seen this, GET ON IT. It’s one of a kind and a total cult fav. As they say… Beverly Hills – WHAT A THRILL!

Loop

Loop is a short film from Pixar about two kids who need to work together to paddle a canoe at camp. It’s very good. If you haven’t seen it yet – it’s on Disney+. Watch it. You won’t regret it.

The Baby-Sitters Club

The new reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club is fantastic. I loved this show for so many reasons but when the final two episodes of season one took place at summer camp – I was completely taken. 10/10. This is a wonderful show for anyone to watch – but I think it does a great job of meeting tween/teen girls where they’re at. It felt real.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

I read a lot – and I read the most during the summer. So books about the summer are my favourite. Books about people going to summer camp – that’s a peak genre. So I was obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for Bridget’s adventure at soccer camp. I love the books best, but the movie is also excellent. I’ll watch Blake Lively go to camp any day of the week.

Bonus:

I know people love Wet Hot American Summer, and others love Meatballs. They are not my favourites but I’m putting them on the list because they count as camp content.

I also personally cannot watch 22 July because it’s a bit too close to home, but if you want a true crime drama (frankly – a horror film) set at a camp this might do it. It’s about the 2011 Norway attacks on the island summer camp. I was on an island summer camp when this happened and I hate saying this, but we now have lockdown drills as part of staff training at the camps I volunteer at. It’s an awful reality.

To end on a positive note – I really wish I could reboot Camp Cariboo. It’s an old YTV kids show from the 1980s all about camp. I would crush it. Or maybe I’ll make a short doc about the making of this show… hm. Maybe that’s an idea…

Lastly – not a tv show or a movie… but if you are a camp person you need to listen to the 1998 This American Life episode Notes on Camp. Listen to that here.

It’s perfect.

What are your favourite camp movies/shows?

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