12 Things That Movies Taught Us About Summer Camp

Anyone who has been to summer camp knows that movies don't truly show what we actually experience every year June through August. If camp were run just like Hollywood suggests, campers would run around with no supervision while drugged-up counselors hooked up in the woods. After spending 15 summers at the same summer camp, I can tell you that while camp is crazy, it isn't that crazy. Although camp movies are rather sensationalized, they do get a few things right.

Camp People Dance a Lot

Dining hall dance parties are a big tradition at summer camps, and choreography is passed from generation to generation in a way that ensures that everyone (mostly) knows the same dance moves. Whether its Friday night after campfire, Saturday morning before parents arrive, or spontaneously mid-day on Wednesday, dance parties are a camp favorite.

Camp Counselors Date

Most camp counselors try to keep their personal lives personal, but sometimes you can tell who’s dating whom. News flash: camp counselors are high school and college students, and they do exactly what all 18 to 24 year-olds do. They make out, they hook up, and sometimes they fall in love. Hollywood loves camp relationships, and we do too.

Camp People Love Winning

Whether its color war, counselor hunt, or lip sync, camp people are some of the most competitive people in the world. We will do anything to win, even if it means staying up late rehearsing, warming up for hours, or playing a little dirty. And when we win, you won't hear the end of it.

Things Are Pretty Rickety at Camp

Camp people know that everything can be fixed with duct tape, and it shows. From diving boards to dining hall tables, everything is one step away from being broken. Rickety things at camp are often the punch line to movie jokes. As long as everyone proceeds with caution, everything is all good.

Camp People Know How to Deal With Wildlife

Raccoons? Love 'em. Bugs? Catch 'em. Skunks? Avoid 'em. Camp people can keep our cool when dealing with even the biggest spiders. When we get back to the "real world", friends are shocked to see our nonexistant reactions to a cockroach crossing our path. 

Camp Trucks Are a Thing

You've definitely seen one of these beaters, and those of us who have driven them are true champions. If you can tow a sailboat behind an unregistered pickup from the '80's with no mirrors or fuel gauge, you can do anything. These questionable vehicles are a standard fixture at every summer camp, as well as in every camp movie.

Some Kids Really Are Stuck Up

"I will NOT eat that," says the 12-year-old girl from an affluent suburb of the nearest city, "And I can't sleep without my mosquito net." Some people automatically thrive in a summer camp, others need to be broken in. While these pompous kids whine the entire first few days at camp, they're usually the ones who have the hardest time leaving at the end of the summer.

There’s Always a Queen Bee at Camp

And she's usually really scary. Campers know that the queen bee decides what is cool and who is cool. She decides whether or not archery is acceptable, which dessert is the best, and which boys are wotrh talking to. In an environment where peer pressure is discouraged, a well-defined clique structure still exists. Unfortunately, counselors are often no better than campers. 

Camp Pranks Are The Best

You haven't lived until you're put a bed on a roof or an entire tree in a rival cabin. Movies really play up this aspect of camp, and often provide a great starting point for real life prank brainstorming. Ask any camp person what pranks they've pulled, and their eyes will light up as they dive into the craziest story you've ever heard.

Camp is Emotional

Camp people in movies cry a lot, and we do in real life as well. Something about being underslept and overstimulated by activities means that we can experience a full range of emotions in a short amount of time. We will cry at a song that brings back memories of summers' past, but instantly cheer up when a friend comes to comfort us. 

Camp is Always Changing

This is a reality that camp people face as we get older, and it usually isn't fun. Changing leadership creates conflict in movies, as it does in real life. Changes are painful, but they're unavoidable. When camp changes, camp people change too. Every camp person can pinpoint what change at camp changed them as a person, for better or for worse.

No Matter What, You’ll Always Have Your Camp Friends by Your Side

What Hollywood gets right in every camp movie is the strength of the friendships we form at summer camp. Whether you went once as a camper, or spent every summer of your life returning to the place that became your home, you know that camp friendships are forever. The bond between camp friends is impossible to explain to outsiders, and that may be what makes these relationships so incredible. Although my days as a camper and a counselor are in the past, I know my camp friends will stick with me no matter what the future holds.

Live long and prosper.