10 Fictional Summer Camps We Wish We Could Go To


[Editor’s note: Your devoted Flavorwire team is taking Memorial Day off, but we’ve left you with some of our favorite summer-related features that you may have missed the first time around. This post originally ran May 21, 2011. Enjoy!]

Now that summer is tantalizingly close, we’re spending an unwholesome amount of time daydreaming about the summers of our childhood, when the possibilities were endless, the days stretched forever, and school was just an uncomfortable blip in the back of our brains. As adults, most of us will watch the bulk of our summer days from our office windows (if we’re lucky enough to have any), so we’ve put together a little wish fulfillment list of the fictional summer camps, complete with some helpful suggestions for how you can approximate each camp experience in the real world.

Camp Ovation, Camp (2003)

This is by far the campiest film about a summer camp we’ve ever seen, which obviously endears it to us. At Camp Ovation, it’s okay to be yourself! Except that apparently, theatre misfits are just as catty and cliquish as the “regular” kids back home, plus they have more creative comebacks. Still, joining a co-ed camp full of gay teenagers, divas, and one “honest-to-god straight boy” singing and doing interpretive dance sounds like a glittery, hilarious summer to us.

How to approximate the experience: Sign up for community theatre. Or if you’re too shy, just watch Glee reruns all summer long and make your friends do the dances with you. Hope you still have friends at the end of the summer.

Camp North Star, Meatballs (1979)

Bill Murray, playing Tripper, “the head counselor who knows the facts of life,” befriends nerdy camper Rudy, who convinces him to go for hot lady counselor Roxane. It’s a raunchy, goofy romp (and a young, bizarre Bill Murray) that makes us dream of practical jokes and camp rivalries.

How to approximate the experience: Make friends with someone you wouldn’t normally hang out with and immediately take any advice they give you about your love life.

Camp Little Wolf, Little Darlings (1980)

“Don’t let the title fool you,” indeed. Two fifteen-year-old girls have a contest to see who can lose their virginity first, and all the girls in camp form teams and place bets on the winner. Both little girls grow up that summer… emotionally, you guys. Emotionally. We’d just be excited to go to a camp with so much delicious drama and intrigue. And so much Matt Dillon.

How to approximate the experience: We’re sure you can figure this one out for yourselves.

Camp Chippewa, Addams Family Values (1993)

But only if we could be best friends with Wednesday. She really knows how to get a room full of WASPy teenagers to scream: “And so, the next night, the ghost returned to the haunted cabin and he said to the campers “None of you really believe in me, so I’ll have to prove my power.” And the next morning, when the campers woke up… all of their old noses had grown back.” The horror! Seriously, though, with camp directors this dumb, we think we could get away with a lot of fun stuff.

How to approximate the experience: Have a barbecue. But only invite people you like.

Camp Hope, Heavyweights

Alarmingly, this movie kind of made us want to go to fat camp when we were kids. Especially pre-Ben Stiller fat camp, which, sidebar: what does Ben Stiller have against fat people? In any event, these fat camp capers, chocolate hoarding, and beating the athletic kids at sports by ‘just having fun’ are enough to make us yearn for the days of organized childhood rebellion.

How to approximate the experience: Trap your boss in the supply closet for an hour while you eat an entire pizza.

Bar None Dude Ranch, Hey Dude

Okay, okay, we know that this was their summer job and not exactly a camp. But look, it’s a bunch of teenagers living together on a ranch and taking care of horses, no parents to be found. This writer, in fact, signed up for horseback riding and horse maintenance pretty much every day at her All-American sleepaway summer camp, so I’m calling that it counts. And also that it would be the best way to spend a summer ever. Sigh. Also, hello Christine Taylor?

How to approximate the experience: If you can’t find any horseback riding lessons to take, just stay outside for obscene amounts of time wearing boots, jeans and long sleeved shirts until you start to hallucinate that you are in fact taking them.

Camp Nowhere, Camp Nowhere (1994)

What would you do if your parents made you go to computer camp for a summer? What? Start your own summer camp with ‘no parents, no counselors, and no rules’? Yeah, us too. Also, Christopher Lloyd could make us go to any camp ever, even if it was a pretend camp. Also also, Jessica Alba in her first movie role!

How to approximate the experience: Play hooky from work with a bunch of your friends and devise an elaborate cover story to tell your boss, complete with video footage and tissue specimens.

Camp Half-Blood, Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Um, who wouldn’t want to go to a secret training camp for demigods on Long Island? First of all, it would mean that you were a demigod. Secondly, there is an archery field, a swordfighting arena, and a climbing wall with lava beneath it. Fun!

How to approximate the experience: Start training for a triathlon. That’s basically the same.

Camp Anawanna, Salute Your Shorts

The theme song to Salute Your Shorts brings back tingly nostalgia memories like nothing else. This show has everything: dorky camp counselors, bullies, the straight man, and toilet seat basketball, which is that thing when the losers of the game get their photo put in a toilet seat. It’s a pretty standard camp experience, we suppose, but we’re suckers for the lovable meanness of Budnick.

How to approximate the experience: TP your favorite coworker’s desk.

Camp Firewood, Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Arguably the best camp movie ever, this makes us want to go back to our camp counselor days like nothing else. After all, camp’s not really about the kids, right? It’s about a bunch of teenagers with minimal responsibilities trying to sneak off and do it.

How to approximate the experience: Have a really earnest conversation with the most superficial person you know. Then just go into town for the day. Or watch a lot of Stella.