Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Summer Camp Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Nametapes ironed on? Bugspray and sunscreen packed? As kids depart for camp, it is fun to watch some classic movies about the joys and terrors of life among the bunk beds and color wars.

1. Meatballs Bill Murray was the counselor who teaches his campers to embrace their loserdom in this classic anti-hero comedy. (some mature material)


2. Camp Nowhere A bunch of kids with high-pressure parents invent a fake achievement-oriented camps (theater, fat camp, paramilitary, computer camp) and head off to enjoy themselves…until the parents all show up.


3. The Adventures of Spin & Marty Boomer parents will recall this Mickey Mouse club serial about the Triple R camp and the camper who arrived with his butler and learned a few things about roughing it. Watch for Mouseketeer Annette as a guest star.

4. Indian Summer A group of adults return to the camp that they loved as kids in this bittersweet midlife drama filmed on the site of the real-life camp attended by the film’s director.


5. Little Darlings There is some mature material in this very uneven story about two girls who make a bet at camp about which one will be the first to have sex, but it gets some credit for a more honest portrayal than most of the consequences of some of these choices. Watch for future “Sex and the City” co-star Cynthia Nixon as one of the campers. For a more family-friendly film, try The Baby Sitters Club, a sweet story about friendship and loyalty with our heroines creating a day-camp for younger children.


6. The Parent Trap Both the Haley Mills and Lindsay Lohan versions of this story of campers who discover they are identical twins are delightful family classics.


7. Space Camp The kids at space camp find themselves launched into space for real in this exciting family adventure.

8. Camp Based on a real-life camp attended by the film-makers, this is the story of an intense theater camp attended by talented, high-strung, insecure, and very ambitious teenagers. (Some mature material.) Stagedoor is a documentary about the real-life campers.


9. Summercamp Summercamp! is a documentary following the day-to-day drama of 90 kids let loose in the woods at Swift Nature Camp in northern Wisconsin. They go through the highs and lows of adolescent rituals: sing-alongs, talent shows, homesickness, counselor mutiny–and first love.


10. Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown Charles Schultz’s everyman comic strip hero goes to camp with all of his friends. Watch for Linus standing up to bullies and some nice lessons about teamwork.

  • jestrfyl

    I have 2 favorites. One is Disney’s “Follow Me, Boys”, starring Fred McMurray. It is not just summer camp – actually it is about Boy Scouts. But I love the “Dirty Dozen”-like sequence. The other is “American Pie: Band Camp”, mostly for the significance of the bagpipes.

  • Mike

    I am glad you mentioned “Indian Summer”. It is my all time favorite movie and there are a lot of big names in it. It was just nice to see something a little original, not over the top, and a bit realistic. I grew up going through the Boy Scouts and obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, and some of what is in that movie was pretty accurate to what I saw growing up.

  • Ali

    How about “Heavyweights” with Ben Stiller?

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Mike — that’s just the kind of comment I love to see, comments on a very personal favorite that has not received the attention it should. I am delighted to hear that you appreciate this neglected gem. It has a lot of heart!

  • jestrfyl

    No one has seen fit to release the old TV series (short lived as it was) Camp Runamuck.
    And while we are at it – why hasn;t anyone released on DVD the old series “Tales of the Gold Monkey”. It had nothing to do with summer camp, but it was a great series that would do well to scratch the Indiana Jones itch. And another great summer/tropic escape series that ought to be released on DVD is ‘Adventures in Paradise” Too bad it was in B/W, but the images are still strong and the stories were good. I know Jimmy Buffett is a fan – perhaps his lable, Mailboat, would take on these projects.

  • Nell Minow

    Oh, jestrfyl, I forgot all about “Camp Runamuck!” I loved that show! I’d love to see the legendary “Adventures in Paradise” released on DVD. And “Adventures of the Gold Monkey,” too.

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