The Best Summer Camp Movies

Summer vacation time is fast approaching, and that means that campers of all ages will soon be gathering around campfires and singing camp songs. It’s also time to start thinking about the best summer camp movies of all time. From classic coming-of-age adventures to lighthearted rom-coms to horror flicks that will make you jump, these movies will get you in the mood for a summer of fun and adventure.

Whether you’re a camper or a counselor (or just a fan of great summer camp movies), these are some of the best crowd pleasers that will get the camping mood going. So pull up a seat and get ready for some campfire stories and popcorn-fueled movie nights with these timeless summer camp movies.

The Parent Trap

The 1998 remake of the classic 1961 Disney movie is a summer camp favorite, and one of the best family-friendly camp movies of all time. Starring Lindsay Lohan, The Parent Trap follows the adventures of twins Annie and Hallie (both played by Lohan) who, after being separated at the start of the movie, reunite at summer camp. They quickly put together a plan to switch places and reunite their parents, who have each gone their separate ways since the twins were born. Where The Parent Trap really stands out is Lohan’s amazing performance as both twins, as she plays both characters in the same scene with aplomb.

Meatballs

1979’s Meatballs is another classic summer camp staple. The movie follows the antics of counselors at a rundown and unruly camp, Camp North Star. The counselors, especially head counselor Tripper (played by Bill Murray in one of his earliest turns as a lead actor), find ways to keep the campers in line and make the camp a little better each summer. The cast of goofy campers and counselors will make you laugh, and Meatballs is one of those movies you can watch again and again.

Wet Hot American Summer

This cult classic from 2001 follows the staff at Camp Firewood and their crazy antics as the summer winds to a close. Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and Elizabeth Banks star as the counselors who bumble their way through a chaotic summer of campers and camp fires. This movie really embraces the ridiculousness of camp life, but also has enough heart and charm to make it worth watching time and time again.

Little Darlings

If you’re looking for a movie that touches on the awkwardness of transitioning from child to teenager, Little Darlings is it. The 1980 film stars Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol as 15-year-old rivals who make a bet to seduce the most boys at summer camp. While it’s not the most memorable movie on the list, Little Darlings does capture the spirit of teenage rivalry and explores the concept of first love.

Dirty Dancing

The name of this movie is pretty self-explanatory, but Dirty Dancing is so much more than the sultry title implies. The 1987 movie stars Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze as Baby and Johnny, two star-crossed teenagers who fall in love at a family-oriented summer camp. They have to deal with class distinctions and the pressures of coming of age, all while mastering the complicated dance moves of Dirty Dancing. The movie is hilarious, heartbreaking, and totally unforgettable.

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is a camp movie for kids of all ages. This 1988 Hanna-Barbera classic follows the mystery solving gang from Mystery Inc. as they try to uncover a mystery at a mysterious summer camp for this ghoulish kids. It’s a fun and goofy movie that kids of all ages are sure to enjoy.

Tall Tale

1995’s Tall Tale is the perfect movie to watch when you’re in the mood for a grown-up summer camp adventure. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, and Nick Stahl, Tall Tale is a modern twist on classic Western tales. This movie follows a young boy as he embarks on an epic quest to save his small Western town, with help from some legendary wild West heroes. It’s an exciting story that the whole family can enjoy.

The Gate

The Gate is a 1987 cult classic that follows two young boys who discover a mysterious gate in their backyard. When they open the gate, they unleashes a host of strange and dangerous creatures who wreak havoc on their summer camp. The two boys must team up with a camp bully and an old mystic to close the gate and save the camp from destruction. It’s a mix of horror, comedy, and summer camp adventure that delivers the perfect blend of scares and laughs.

Camp Nowhere

This 1994 movie starring Jonathan Jackson and Andrew Keegan follows an unlikely group of teenagers who plan the ultimate summer camp, and get more than they bargained for in the process. Camp Nowhere is a hilarious and whimsical moviemaking it one of the best summer camp comedies of all time.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s 2012 take on the classic summer camp movie. It stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as two melancholy young misfits who fall in love and run away together to a nearby island. The movie follows their adventures as they try to outsmart the adults, who are in hot pursuit. Moonrise Kingdom is an ode to forbidden love and youthful firsts, and it’s sure to put a smile on your face.

Summer camp movies are the perfect way to get in the mood for summer adventures. These 10 classics are sure to deliver a variety of laughs, thrills, and moments of nostalgia. Who knows? After watching this list of classic summer camp movies, you might find yourself planning your own camp adventure. So gather a group of friends, pop some popcorn and kick off your summer with one (or all) of these camp classics.

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