You may be too old to attend summer camp, but you’re never too old to re-live it on the big screen. Roast some marshmallows on your radiator, pop in one of these five films and you’ll soon feel like a kid all over again.
Meatballs (1979) – $4.99 Amazon
Before he was a Ghostbuster, Bill Murray got his first starring role in “Meatballs” as Tripper, the cartoonish, fun-loving head counselor at Camp North Star. This film has a whole lot going on: Tripper takes a young outcast camper under his wing, tries to romance his co-counselor Roxanne, plays pranks on camp director Morty, and attempts to lead North Star to victory against rich-kid camp Mohawk in the camp Olympics. Plus it’s got troublemaking CIT’s with crushes, nerds who get milkshakes poured on their heads, mystery meat dinners, and spooky campfire stories. This film is a seriously good time that will make you laugh out loud, if not because of the movie’s jokes, then its ‘70s flair and Bill Murray’s jogging shorts.
Friday the 13th (1980) - $15.99 Amazon
Summer camp certainly isn’t isn’t for everyone; in fact for some kids camp is just one big nightmare. So if you spent your entire summer at camp plotting your escape, you might be able to relate to this film a bit more than the others. In this classic horror film, Camp Crystal Lake is haunted and in just 24 hours, its few remaining counselors are brutally murdered one by one. You don’t need to worry, because there are certainly no food fights or sing-alongs here!
The Parent Trap (1998) - $7.99 Amazon
No summer camp movie list would be complete without “The Parent Trap.” You know, the movie where Lindsay Lohan goes to camp and meets her long-lost twin…who’s also Lindsay Lohan, but British? In this remake of the 1961 classic, Hallie and Annie start out at Camp Walden as rivals, but they soon bond and decide to switch places to reunite their parents. Most memorable about this movie though, is that Camp Walden seemed like the most awesome prank-filled camp. These kids could get away with almost anything—poker games, a fencing match that gets a bit out of hand and probably the best booby-trapped cabin ever executed.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) - Available on Netflix
This summer camp satire isn’t about the campers at all. If you were a camp counselor who paid a bit more attention to your summer flings than your cabin of kids, and were busy doing other things parents wouldn’t want to know about, well, then this one’s for you. Set during the last day of camp at Camp Firewood in 1981, this all-star cast attempts to tie together the loose ends of summer before the final talent show. And before a part of NASA’s Skylab space station comes crashing down to Earth, because why not? On July 31, Netflix releases an eight episode prequel series, called “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” starring much of the original cast, including Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and Bradley Cooper. So catch the classic cult film before binge-watching the new series.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) - Available on Hulu Plus
This one’s for all the young summer camp romantics out there. The most critically acclaimed and most recent film on our list centers on a 12-year-old orphan named Sam Shakusky who goes to a Khaki Scout camp called Camp Ivanhoe in the summer of ’65. His pen pal and love interest Suzy also lives on the island, and the pair makes a secret pact to meet up and run away together. In a sometimes dangerous and always quirky us vs. the world adventure, the runaway tweens fight against the odds—namely Suzy’s parents, the other Khaki scouts, and social services—to stay together.