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Top 5 Summer Camp Movies Of All Time

Updated on June 18, 2011

Relax with a great summer camp movie

Whether you're reading this in the middle of summer or during the darkest days of winter, there are few things that will make you nostalgic for those care-free summer days of your youth like a good summer camp movie. They combine the mischevious nature of children with a general lack of adult supervision, and best of all there's no schoolwork to deal with.

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

I might as well start off with the one movie that doesn't fit in with the others on this list. It's not nearly as care-free, and it's certainly not fun in the same sense as most popcorn flicks. Friday the 13th is a terrifying movie that helped define the modern horror genre. This slasher movie features a young Kevin Bacon playing the role of a counselor.

4. Summercamp! (2006)

This is the one movie on the list that I don't expect most people to have heard of. It's a documentary about a summer camp in Wisconsin, following the lives of children as they deal with being away from home and adapt to a whole new social structure that developes and devolves in the matter of weeks -- as opposed to the years they spend adapting to such things in their "normal" lives.

3. The Parent Trap (1998)

I don't expect everyone to like this pick, but I don't really care. The Parent Trap, which is a remake of a film of the same title made decades earlier, is a solid summer camp movie and one of only two Lindsay Lohan movies that I consider decent (the other being Mean Girls). Like the original, this Parent Trap features a child actor playing two characters who appear on screen together throughout much of the movie, requiring some tricky camera work and some post-production magic.

2. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

A parody of other summer camp movies, this one was panned by critics when it was released a decade ago. It has not only become a cult classic, but its credits read like a who's who of comedic celebrities who would emerge in the following years. Paul Rudd and David Hyde Pierce round out a cast list that includes such SNL alum as Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, and Janeane Garofalo.

1. Meatballs

This Bill Murray classic set the bar high for summer camp movies, and I don't think any have ever been able to surpass it. This was Bill Murray in his absolute prime, and even though almost nobody else in this movie is anyone you or I have ever heard of, Murray is still able to carry this one across the finish line. It's not just a cheap sex romp, and it's not just a juvenile comedy. This was a movie about youth, but targeted at adults. They made a sequel, but Murray apparently wanted nothing to do with it, or maybe he was just busy. Either way, it starred Richard Mulligan (from Empty Nest fame), a weird alien guy, a stereotypical Italian American, and Paris Hilton's aunt. As you might guess, it couldn't hold a candle to the original.


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  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

    I must confess that the only reason I read this was to see if you included The Parent Trap. While I was pleased to see that you did, I prefer the earlier version because Haley Mills was so cute and had that winsome, reedy voice.

  • jponiato profile image

    jponiato 6 years ago from Mid-Michigan

    "Meatballs" is the only one of these I've seen. It is still a favorite of mine.