Fave 5: Summer Camp Movies

Throughout many of our childhood and adolescent years, the end of June meant two things: no more school and the beginning of camp! Whether for a week or an entire summer, day or overnight, camp was a defining time in our lives. Something about hot temperatures, arts and crafts, the outdoors, raging hormones and a respite from teachers and parents combined to make camp a hallowed experience. A place where eternal friendships were forged, first kisses were had and our attitudes to actual camping-related activities established.

Now that the years of two month summer holidays are behind us, our memories of camp become more distant and mythical. If we aren’t able to run away to summer camp, then the next best thing is to relive it through the magic of cinema. So, without further ado, we present our five favourite camp films. 

The Parent Trap

Before Lindsay Lohan turned into Hollywood’s Problem Child she had a promising career ahead of her. This 1998 remake of The Parent Trap showcased Lohan as twin girls who were accidentally reunited at summer camp. The two then switch places and scheme to get their parents reunited. As you can imagine, hilarious hijinks ensue.

Heavy Weights

Heavy Weights tells the tale of a fat camp gone horribly awry when its management is taken over by fitness wacko, Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller). When their idyllic camp turns hellish, the campers plot to wrest back control from Perkis, who is using the campers as test subjects for his slenderizing infomercial. This summer classic was also the first feature film written by comedy expert, Judd Apatow


The inimitable Bill Murray stars in Meatballs, a screwball comedy set at a low-budget summer camp. Murray plays Tripper, the head camp counselor who leads his charges to participate in the annual Olympiad against a rival camp. Challenges include potato sack racing and a disgusting hot dog eating contest, which is available for your viewing pleasure below. 

Moonrise Kingdom

First love is often found at summer camp. In the newest offering from Wes Anderson, Sam (Jared Gilman) escapes from his Khaki Scout troop to run away with the love of his life, Suzy (Kara Hayward). Their idyllic traipse through the wilderness is disrupted by a violent storm and various parents and authorities trying to track them down. Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton round out the cast, but the young protagonists are the stars of the show.

Troop Beverly Hills

Okay, so while this technically has nothing to do with summer camp, Troop Beverly Hills appeals to the office’s Brownies/Girl Guide alumni. Phyllis (Shelley Long) is a Beverly Hills housewife who attempts to deal with her divorce by assuming control of her daughter’s (a young Jenny Lewis) Wilderness Girl troop. Phyllis imparts some Rodeo Drive swagger to the troop, but soon learns that money alone can’t buy badges.