Sending your kid off to summer camp can feel pretty magical to parents -- they get to have some fun, after all, and you don't have to feel guilty about getting some long-overdue personal time. Maybe a short adults-only vacation, or just some quiet in the house instead of the soundtrack of whatever family of precocious smart-asses is currently on the Disney Channel.
But just because you've done your research, helped your kid choose a camp experience that they'll like, and paid for the thing doesn't mean your job is quite done. Now your responsibility is to make sure they see none of the films on this list, lest they get the wrong idea about what camp is -- or should be -- about.
10. Wet Hot American Summer
Aside from the fact that the title itself sounds like something you might order off of soft-porn hotel pay-per-view, the movie promotes thinking of camp counselors as, you know, actual people. Which sort of bites, considering the fact that the movie also points out just how much camp sucks. So not only will kids not want to be at camp, they'll feel guilty for forcing their counselors to be there. Resentment, thy name is summer camp.
On the other side of the coin, parents won't want to make camp seem like an unending good time, full of wacky hijinx and Bill Murray. The actual comedy of summer camp is more along the line of seeing someone get de-pantsed in the light of a campfire or hearing a good fail tale from your buddy who struck out with a girl named Jenny.
Little known fact: Only girls named Jenny go to summer camp.
8. Parent Trap
Really, this movie is only a problem if you happen to be divorced. Then, it's pure, unfettered hell, as the kid you love becomes convinced that all they have to do in order to get you and your ex back together is to go to camp, find their twin, and hatch a plan. Freakin' Disney, ruining everything.
7. Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Granted, Charlie Brown is awesome. And since Charlie Brown's escapades tend to be low-key affairs -- trick-or-treating, putting on a Christmas pageant, that sort of thing -- it's easy to allow yourself to believe that there really isn't that much in the way of adult supervision. But this show? Really? Charlie Brown and the gang are in a week-long river rafting race. By themselves. They get lost, stuck in dangerous storms, and suffer attacks from evil rafters. What's next? "Linus Cracked His Head Open on that Last Rock, Charlie Brown"? "A Charlie Brown Drowning"? Complete autonomy at camp really shouldn't be possible. Or gently comedic.
6. Camp Nowhere Okay, you know how I was just complaining that Charlie Brown's summer camp might make kids think there's no supervision? This movie takes that concept and runs with it, exploring how kids can take their parents' cash, sit around and play video games all the time and profit from it. And that's just not what summer camp is about. College, definitely, but not camp. 5. Cheerleader Camp
It's not so much the violence in this movie--as slasher flicks go, this one is pretty tame. It's not the ridiculous alternate film title: "Bloody Pom-Poms." It's not even the gratuitous boobage (or lack of acting skills) boasted by former Playboy Playmates in the cast. The problem with this movie is that it co-stars Leif Garrett, and exposure to Leif Garrett causes both extreme sadness and, quite possibly, a black-tar heroin contact high.
4. Poison Ivy
No, not the horribly awesome Drew Barrymore comeback vehicle, but rather the 1985 TV movie starring Michael J. Fox and Nancy "Facts of Life" McKeon. It's amusing enough, but also quite possibly the most cliché camp movie ever, ripping off pretty much every camp movie that came before it. And that's really the reason you don't want kids seeing it -- the celebration of all things mediocre and underachieving is something they should get from their peers (and VH1 reality programming).
3. Friday the 13th
Seriously, if you want your kid to actually stay at camp once you drop them off, don't let them even know this movie exists. Of course, if you used it as an object lesson, that might work--you know, to cure them of being a dick, bullying other kids, or having sex. Because we all know that this behavior just invites various forms of impalement. But if you're kid's decent to begin with, it'll just make him wet himself.
2. Little Darlings
Yeesh. There's just so much that parents will actually be frightened of here. Forget Jason and his dumbass hockey mask. This is the shit parents are really scared of: smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and underage girls goading each other to lose their virginity as quickly as possible. Sure, it's going to happen anyway, but really, you don't want to put this in their heads. Or yours. Actually, maybe this list should be Movies That Parents of Summer Campers Shouldn't See if They Want to Get Any Sleep While Their Kid's At Camp.
1. Sleepaway Camp
It's not so much that just campers shouldn't see the last scene in this movie. It's more that no one should. The genitalia is bad enough, the murdering a little over the line, but really, the real crime here is the of lack of waxing.
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