For most kids, summer camp begins this week. I wasn’t a fan of real summer camp and it might be because what these movie characters were up to in the summertime looked like much more fun than that.
Had Smalls, Benny and co. played baseball at a proper summer camp they would have had an endless supply of equipment and baseballs - and likely wouldn’t have been contending with the Beast for that matter - but the resulting hijinks are what make the summer such an unforgettable season. So what if they had to forfeit a Babe Ruth-signed baseball worth thousands of dollars? (Well, that, a pot, a vacuum cleaner and an Erector Set.) Smalls even says it himself; “… every summer was great, but none of them ever came close to that first one.”
I went to sleepaway camp and played the contraband hiding game, but the Chipmunks of Heavyweights are on another level. Even though Tony Perkis storms in and confiscates their entire stash, dismantles the go-karts, pops the Blob and tends to cancel lunch due to lack of hustle, the absurdity of the PerkiSystem sparks the ultimate covert camp mission – take uncle Tony down and bring Camp Hope back to the day of the Bushkins – and have an epic junk food bonfire while they’re at it.
As someone who wasn’t thrilled about heading off to the camp my parents insisted I attend for six summers, Camp Nowhere has always hit home. You know what’s better than computer camp, fat camp, military camp and drama camp? Make your own camp. No parents, no counselors, no rules. Perhaps there should have been a rule about flares and Roman candles, but in the end Mud and the gang learned a lot more fending for themselves than having an adult do it all for them at a fancier establishment, like eating omelets for breakfast instead of Pop-Tarts and Slim Jims.
Now and Then
There are a lot of essential life lessons wrapped up in Now and Then. You can’t get pregnant from French kissing, pudding-filled balloons are a great substitute for real boobs, Cosmo quizzes are always right and most importantly, “All women have a garden, and a garden needs a big hose to water it, or a small hose, as long as it works.” What could be better than a summer of tree house financing, séances, pranks and countless experiences that prove you can get through anything when your best friends have your back?
Addams Family Values
The last thing in the world anyone would want, except maybe Amanda Buckman, is to be stuck at a camp with Gary and Becky Granger yapping in your ear 24/7 or, heaven forbid, to be locked up in the Harmony Hut. However, if that camp also had a Wednesday Adams to annihilate their pep and positivity by demolishing their production of the first Thanksgiving, that’d be some solid summertime fun right there.
The Parent Trap
It isn’t easy leaving home and heading off to summer camp with a bunch of kids you don’t know, but imagine if your long lost twin is in the mix. After you’re all done fencing and pranking each other, you could hang out in the isolation cabin, pierce each other’s ears, connect the only photo you have of your mother and father, and scheme to get one more trip out of the summer by swapping places and going home with the wrong parent.
The Kings of Summer
Summer camp is a great way to get space from your parents and let loose a bit, but in The Kings of Summer Joe, Patrick and Biaggio opt to take a more extreme route. In an effort to take a step into adulthood and become their own men, the guys sneak off into the woods, build a makeshift home of their own and spend the summer there. No rules, no overbearing and embarrassing parents or unrealistic expectations. Just three friends living free, having fun and fending for themselves – with the occasional trip to Boston Market, too.
It’s highly unlikely anyone would choose to work over going to camp for the summer, but if your job was to travel across the country with a popular rock band (while you’re still in high school, nonetheless) there’s no contest. Your mom probably won’t be happy, there will be a lot of lying and you might even find yourself dishing out a few “feck yous,” but it certainly seems worth a summer on the road watching Stillwater skyrocket to fame while you’re living your own dream, too.
Summer should be an opportunity to hang with friends and revel in some independence, but poor Baby Houseman gets stuck spending her last summer before college at Kellerman’s with her parents. However, that’s nothing a crush can’t fix. Rather than spend her days taking awkward dance classes and reading books, Johnny Castle inspires her to carry some watermelons and Baby winds up having the time of her life for it.
Stand by Me
Gordie Lachance says it well; “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12,” and when you get the chance to track down a dead body with those friends, you take it, even if it means evading Chopper, finding leeches in horrifying places and standing up to a particularly vicious town bully so he doesn’t claim the discovery for himself. Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern never even try to get their pictures in the paper for finding Ray Brower like they planned, but in the end, their summer trip into the woods is worth so much more than that.
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