It’s finally summer! Longer days, warmer weather, and no more school for three months. Summer is a great time of year and it’s a big time for the movie industry. One of the most classic staples of an American summer is going away to a summer camp, and Hollywood has used this formula many times to produce some truly great and classic movies about camp, campers, and counselors. Below are some of the best that you should be sure to add to your queue if you haven’t seen them already.
Camp Nowhere is about the dream that just about every kid in America had in the 1990s
(and probably ever since summer camp was a thing). What if you could go to an awesome camp that had no rules, no adults, and no counselors, just you and a bunch of friends? Well, predictably things get out of hand, but the teens in this 90s romp still enjoy the summer of their lives.
BONUS: It starred Christopher Lloyd and 90′s heartthrob Andrew Keegan. Whatever happened to that guy?
We shouldn’t have to explain this one because it is so well known. A group of teenagers were warned to stay away from Camp Crystal Lake, but ignore the warning. Then they are killed one by one by a mysterious killer launching the now infamous slasher series.
FUN FACT: Jason’s iconic hockey mask does not appear in the Friday the 13th series until Part 3.
As the name implies, Heavyweights is about a group of kids that go to a summer “fat camp.” However, their fun summer quickly turns grim once they learn the owners had to sell the camp to a psychotic fitness guru who wants to use the kids to make a weight loss infomercial video series. Written by Judd Apatow, this film doesn’t have all the adult humor but is still hilarious.
BONUS: You get to see Ben Stiller in one of his funniest roles of all time as the villainous Tony Perkis.
First of all, don’t judge me. I know that not all the Ernest movies are cinematic masterpieces, or even good films (looking at your Slam Dunk Ernest), but Ernest Goes to Camp, his original film is hilarious. It epitomizes everything that made Ernest a household name as he becomes the counselor at a camp for juvenile delinquents. In true Ernest fashion, nothing goes right, but everyone bands together when an evil developer threatens the camp.
FUN FACT: The character of Ernest started out as a regional commercial character that became so popular that he went on to do nine movies.
Wes Anderson’s most recent film about “boy scout” outcast that falls in love with a local girl who lives on a New England island during his summer camping trip. Done in classic Wes Anderson style, Moonrise Kingdom delivers a dry humor as it endears you towards the characters and their far-fetched plight. It drips with childish innocence and melodrama.
BONUS: Like all of Anderson’s films, this is quirky and smart, but it’s hard not to get absorbed in this feel-good plot and root for all the characters.
A quintessential camp movie starring Bill Murray as the zany, yet lovable head counselor. Meatballs shares with us the summer experiences of a camp of misfit counselors and campers through all their hijinks leading up to the big end-of-summer completion with a rival camp that is richer and more athletic.
BONUS: Plus we get this little gem of an inspirational speech from Mr. Murray.
The only drama on our list, Indian Summer makes the cuts for good reason. A group of 20-somethings return to their childhood camp for one last week before the camp closes for good. While there, they reminisce about old times and try to figure out their current lives and futures. It’s a heart-warming tale about the difficulties and joys of growing up.
FUN FACT: The term “Indian Summer” actually refers to a period of heat with above normal temperatures that occurs in the Fall, between September and November.