Summer camp celluloid

I was never one of the kids who went away to a traditional summer camp, so I had to live vicariously through the kids on my TV screen. Summer camp movies are a fun genre that have several staples: water sports, boy/girl awkwardness, and camp fires. I’m not sure why this resonates within so many of us (especially with that whole “boy awkwardness” bit) but it seems to be a popular theme for several summertime films.

While so many of the camp films are of the horror variety (Sleepaway Camp, Summer Camp Nightmare, Friday the 13th), there are also the funny ones that tug at the heart strings. Summer camp means friendship and crushes, at least that’s what I’ve learned from my favorites:

Camp

If you’re looking for an all-out gay summer experience, musical theater camp is surely the place for you. Unfortunately, the guys have most of the fun in Camp. But Ellen Lucas (Joanna Chilcoat) at least gets to make out with camp hottie Vlad before he hooks up with everyone else, and she also does a great performance of “And I’m Telling You” in a production of Dreamgirls. Though the cast of this 2003 film was largely unknown, it was endearingly sweet and fun to watch, like a queer singalong.

Camp Nowhere

When you’re young, movies where kids take matters into their own hands are always a hit. Creating your own summer camp with your parents’ money? Far-fetched, yes; ideal, totally. A young Jessica Alba has a cameo in this ensemble film that starred Jonathan Jackson and Andrew Keegan. But the real prize of the film: bikini-clad Marnette Patterson, brilliantly named Trish.

Little Darlings

One of the only films to have young females battling it out to lose their virginity first, Little Darlings starred Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol as 15-year-old virgins looking to lose it at summer camp. With Cynthia Nixon making an appearance as a campgoer named Sunshine, this 1980 film is the epitome of summer camp flicks. We loved Tatum back when she was young and innocent. Someone get to putting this film on DVD pronto!

Wet Hot American Summer

An ensemble cast starring hot, funny women like Janeane Garafalo, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, and Molly Shannon make this film watchable even if it sucked. Luckily, it does not – the satire is about the camp counselors and their quests to do as little work as possible with their bunks, while having time to hook-up and spy on each other. The dudes are funny, too (Paul Rudd and his “gournal,” and Christopher Meloni as a refrigerator humper), but there’s nothing like seeing these ladies get to do some improv on-screen.

What’s your favorite summer camp film?

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