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Going to camp is a ritual almost everyone has experienced, but like every other cultural ritual, it sure has changed over time. At least that’s the conclusion I came to watching the sweet documentary : “Summercamp!”. Swift Nature Camp in Wisconsin is the setting for a leisurely look at three weeks in the lives of one group of campers. In between typical scenes of talent shows, crafts, and campfires, there is some subltle social commentary–like when one camper doesn’t want to give up his Gameboy when he moves into his cabin–as these kids innocently reveal what survival skills they really need to cope with a chaotic modern culture.


It’s easy enough to recognize some of the campers as steroptypes: There’s the bully, the shy kid, the immature one, the brainiac. The humor–as well as the wisdom–of this film is found in the little moments of revelation by the campers as they reveal information like how much ADHD medication they take at home but how they don’t need it when they are at camp and are active. Another kid reveals his perceptions of his relationship with his father based on his father’s career choices.And then there is a big emotional pay-off when one waifish girl reveals why she is so obsessed with the birds at camp. Clearly this camp is not just a camp, but a safe haven from a confusing and sometimes overwhelming world.
Because of the leisurely pace of the film, this movie may be appreciated more by adults than kids, but it is certainly family-friendly enough to be watched by all. Maybe you can enjoy s’mores while you’re at it.

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