The Best Summer Camp Movies of all Time

For the last 30 years the film industry has tried to capture the magic of summer camp and project it onto the big screen for us all to enjoy. At CNC we’ve seen them all and after a heated lunch time discussion at Chipotle… we agreed to disagree on the favorites.

So here they are in no particular order (because we didn’t want to fight about that too!)

Wet Hot American Summer

“You taste like a burger. I don't like you anymore.”

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Set on the last day of camp, in the hot summer of 1981, "Wet Hot American Summer" follows a group of counselors who are each trying to complete their unfinished business before the day ends. The entire summer of pent-up sexual frustrations, unresolved post-traumatic stress, pending separations and of course, the talent show, all weigh heavily on the minds and groins of counselors and campers alike. The style of this movie is legendary and at CNC it was a no brainer for making the list. We all own the tube socks and the vintage t-shirts, and yes you will find us wearing them at our September events!

Heavyweights

“My Grandma runs faster than you and she's only got one leg!”

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Gerry is a kid who is not looking forward to his summer vacation, since he'll be spending it at a camp for overweight boys in order to shed pounds. Fortunately, a kindly couple, the Bushkins run the camp and make the process fun and relaxed. However, they're soon forced to declare bankruptcy and sell the camp to Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller), a fitness fanatic who turns the camp into a living nightmare of over-the-top training. But the kids plan to fight back…

With Ben Stiller as a fitness fanatic this summer camp classic is basically the prequel to Dodgeball… which as you know is a legendary CNC event. Except we prefer, dodge, duck, dip, dive and… head to the open bar for a beer technique.

Meatballs

“Even if we win, if we win! Even if we win! Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose.”

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Tripper (Bill Murray) is the head counselor at a budget summer camp called Camp Northstar. In truth, he's young at heart and only marginally more mature than the campers themselves. Tripper befriends Rudy (Chris Makepeace), a loner camper who has trouble fitting in. As Tripper inspires his young charges to defeat rival Camp Mohawk in the annual Olympiad competition, Rudy plays matchmaker between Tripper and Roxanne (Kate Lynch), a female counselor at Northstar. We love this movie simply for having one of the best speeches in movie history… and Bill Murray.

Girls still love guys that rock 80’s style tube socks right? Ah, who cares.

The Parent Trap

“If you ask me, the bouquet is a little too robust for a Merlot. But then again, I'm partial to the softer California grape.”

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During summer camp two girls discover that they are twins, separated at birth by their parents' unnatural and egotistical decision to get divorced and split the girls. The girls decide to switch places in order to meet the parent that they have never known and to plan the reunification of the family. Hectic phone calls between London and California will follow, but the unexpected engagement of their father seems to be compromising the plan. Anyway, the twins have more than one card up their sleeves…

This one makes our list because it’s from the era we grew up in. We all watched it as campers!

Addams Family Values

“You have enslaved him. You have placed him under some strange sexual spell. I respect that. But please, may we see him?”

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Gomez and Morticia Addams hire a nanny named Debbie to take care of their newborn son, Pubert, after older siblings Wednesday and Pugsley's failed attempts to murder him. Unbeknownst to them, Debbie is a serial killer who marries rich bachelors and murders them to collect their inheritances.

After Debbie seduces Uncle Fester, Wednesday becomes suspicious of her intentions. In order to maintain her cover, Debbie tricks Gomez and Morticia into believing Wednesday and Pugsley want to go to summer camp. They are sent to Camp Chippewa, managed by the overzealous Gary and Becky Granger, where they are singled out by the counselors, as well as popular girl Amanda Buckman, for their macabre dress and behavior. Joel, a nerdy bookworm who also does not fit in, becomes interested in Wednesday.

Camp Nowhere

“Here's what you do: get lost! Disappear into the woods for five or six hours. When you show up they'll be so glad you haven't been eaten by bears, they'll forget the other stuff!”

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Morris "Mud" Himmel (Jonathan Jackson) spends every summer at computer camp, but he hates it. Mud and his friends (Andrew Keegan, Melody Kay, Marnette Patterson), unhappy about their respective camp prospects, devise a plan to finally have a fun summer. They bribe Dennis Van Welker (Christopher Lloyd), an ex-teacher, to pose as a counselor for a fake camp and rent a campground where the kids can run amok. But they run into trouble when their parents want to come for a visit.

This was a true coming of age film, alongside Stand By Me and The Sandlot. Which could probably both make this list!

Relive your summer camp days here:

Liam MacleodComment