The 10 Greatest Summer Camp Movies of All Time

posted: 04/14/15
by: Ryan Johnson
The 10 Greatest Summer Camp Movies of All Time
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There are so many great summer camp movies.

As your kids gear up for their trek to summer camp, it's time to break out the movies and have some fun. We've compiled a list of the very best summer camp movies of all time, and while these are a very exaggerated version of what summer camp is all about, some on our list are laugh-out-loud funny, while others are downright scary. Whatever mood you're in, we've got you covered. Just leave Jason Voorhees out of the mix if your kids are watching with you.

Camp Nowhere

When a group of friends realize they're all being forced to go to a summer camp they don't want to go to, one young man decides to turn the tables on his parents. He comes up with a summer camp that doesn't really exist, and then goes on to persuade (ahem, blackmail) a teacher into helping them convince their parents this is the camp they need to go to -- and parents aren't allowed! Christopher Lloyd plays the swindled teacher, while the young cast is comprised of a baby-faced Jonathan Jackson, a too-cute Jessica Alba, and pre-teen Andrew Keegan.

Friday the 13th

A group of young camp counselors return to the defunct Camp Crystal Lake to reopen it. But someone wants it closed for good, and will do anything it takes to keep people out -- even kill them. One by one, the counselors are offed in gruesome ways -- and it's a thrill a minute. Keep your eyes peeled for a very young Kevin Bacon in one of the lead roles.

Ernest Goes to Camp

I know what you're thinking: How could I possibly put an Ernest movie on a list of best movies of all time? But this one is a personal favorite from my childhood, and one I watched over and over. The story follows a group of juvenile delinquents sent to camp to serve out their sentences. Ernest is put in charge of the group, and hijinks ensue. But everyone steps up to the plate when the camp is threatened by a big-shot developer.

Little Darlings

Tatum O'Neill and Kristy McNichol play frenemies at a summer camp. From opposite sides of the tracks, they begin a competition to see who can lose their virginity first. Armand Assante and Matt Dillon play the targets of their game, but neither girl is quite prepared for the outcome.

The Parent Trap

While the Lindsay Lohan version is OK, I'm partial to the original starring Hayley Mills, so we'll go with that one. Long-lost sisters unknowingly reunite at a summer camp, and when they figure out they were seperated at birth, they switch places to reunite their estranged parents. It's funny, heart-warming, and there are even a few songs thrown in for a good, old-fashioned sing-along.

Wet Hot American Summer

This film was a total flop at the box office, but it has since developed a cult following -- because it's hilarious. Definitely not one for the younger crowd, this film follows a group of camp counselors at a summer camp on the last day before they head home. It's got an all-star cast, and a soundtrack full of early-'80s hits. What's not to love?


Heavyweights follows a group of young boys as they go through a summer at fat camp -- with a horrible ex-fitness instructor as the camp leader (played by Ben Stiller). Written by Judd Apatow, this film is much more family-friendly than his more recent entries, but it's still just as funny.


A screwball comedy with heart, Meatballs is the story of head counselor Tripper (Bill Murray) and his CITs (counselors in training) at Camp North Star. They provide all the laughs, but it's Tripper's relationship with loner camper, Rudy, that shows the film's sentimental side.


A rag-tag group of teenagers from across the U.S., with very different interests, are placed into the same shuttle group at space camp. But while they're learning and observing the operations of the shuttle, they're accidentally sent off into orbit and they must work together to get everyone back on Earth safely.

Indian Summer

Camp owner Uncle Lou invites his favorite campers back for a reunion at Camp Tamakwa. Upon arrival, they learn that Uncle Lou plans to close the place down and they're heartbroken. They spend the next week reminiscing about their past and contemplating their future.

Those are my favorites -- did I miss yours? Share your picks in the comments below!