It’s finally (kind of) warm in the Northeast. And since it was a long time coming this year – I wore a fleece jacket last week – I’m feeling rather celebratory about it. It makes me want to go to camp.
Give me a few weeks of 80 degree humidity, and I’ll be back to my whining and moaning about how much I hate the heat. Trust me.
I don’t know about you, but all I ever really wanted to do as a kid was go to camp. Specifically I wanted to go to sleepover camp the likes of which probably don’t really exist. I wanted to sleep in cabins with a counselor who slept through late night shenanigans. I wanted to make Best Friends Forever with the other girls in my bunk. I wanted to go on midnight kitchen raids and do nothing but eat peanut butter straight from the gigantic industrial-sized barrels of it that you just KNOW they have back there.
I blame television and movies for this problem. I’m thirty years old and, at this time of year, I still yearn for a footlocker trunk, friendship bracelets and the excuse to just be dirty for three months without worrying that I don’t look grown up or professional. So here are a few of my all-time, salute-worthy, kitchen-raid deserving, summer camp movies:
Look, I get that you grew up with Lindsay Lohan, but if you haven’t seen Hyaley Mills in the original Parent Trap, we can’t be friends. YEAH I SAID IT. You need to watch Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. You just do. Their camp has uniforms. It’s AMAZING.
Are you romantic? (yes) Are you nostalgic? (yes) This movie is for you. Grown ups go back to the summer camp where they all met. The movie is peppered with sepia-toned flashbacks to truly fantastic 70s era fashion. Oh, and did I mention that it basically takes place in the 90s? Because the perms and patterns make the entire thing worth it. Really, you need to see this movie. I adore it.
Kids swindle their parents out of super-selective (and super judgmental) camp funds and create their own “no adults allowed (except eccentric Christopher Lloyd)” camp for a summer. There are meals of pop tarts and mud slides when it’s raining and general awesomeness. Plus. Andrew Keegan. Andrew Keegan! Before he was the douchey tube sock model in Ten Things I Hate About You he was in Camp Nowhere as the pre-teen thug with a heart of gold. His best friend is the computer nerd (also the mastermind of this genius camp), and much like Judd Nelson, he gets the princess in the end.
Want to see all your favorite actors before they were big and/or before they were on SNL? This is the movie for you. Be warned: there is a lot of sex and a lot of drug use, and Janeane Garafalo is my role model forever.
Bill Murray. Bullied children. Awesome summer camp hilarity. You need this movie in your life.
Music. Jonas Brothers. Demi Lovato. This is total campy fun. Good luck getting the songs from this one out of your head.
Honorable Mention: Salute Your Shorts
Camp isn’t just a place.
Camp is an experience.
You grow and learn and become more of a human being by interacting with all of the other kids and adults in your immediate vicinity for a few weeks. At least that’s what they tell me. I never got to go to sleep away camp – not the kind I wanted to go to at least. I went for the occasional week long excursion to horseback riding camp or the quasi-Outward Bound kind of thing, but never a whole six or eight weeks in a cabin in the woods with 200 other kids and a handful of semi-adults with very different camp experiences than the kids. I guess I’m too old now. I’ll just have to live through the movies.