Camp kids, unite! M. Beth Bloom, author of Don’t Ever Change, which follows Eva’s
summer of being a (unqualified) camp counselor, is here to set the record
straight. When it comes to camp life, Hollywood gets it so wrong.
M. Beth: Camp is fine. The food is whatever, the
vitamin D is blazing, there’s flirting and sing-songing and cool daily drama. A
literal coming of age can be observed around every court and corner. Admittedly, it’s a special time, which is why
it’s such fertile writing ground. TV and film people are always trying to get
it right – the smell of wet bathing suit and weird coco sunscreen and kicked up
dirt, first aid by the poison oak, first kiss by the canoes, Indian summer
vibes. Sounds normal. Then why is
everything campified so clichéd? We can’t be sure. But, we can be sure to find
these classic tropes in pop culture camp portrayals:
1. The city gal and the gross out boy.
As seen in: Salute Your Shorts
She’d rather be at the mall and spends the majority
of camp time doing her hair, tanning, complaining about bugs and grass,
avoiding activities that result in sweat, and crushing on the new guy
(Seriously, why are so many boys starting camp halfway through the
And he’s a horror show of male childhood nightmares:
armpit farting, food fight instigating, gunk-covered, given some disturbing
nickname for being basically a disgusting human, immaturity incarnate. Extreme?
2. Clueless parents
As seen in: Camp Nowhere
In some versions of camp reality parents are
ding-dongs who don’t do background checks on the place they’re leaving their
children for multiple weeks. These
parents think they’re sending their kid off to have a blast, learn life lessons,
and grow into a sturdy young adult with sun and sensibility. But really the
kids are causing insane trouble, setting up mini governments, and, actually,
having incredibly stressful summers. Never happened once.
3. Haunted campgrounds
As seen in: Friday the 13th
We can all agree urban legends are obviously cool. But
let’s face it, no one drowned in the lake outside camp, because if they had,
the camp would’ve shut down and it would’ve been a PR nightmare forever.
4. The camp skit is going to go wrong.
As seen in: Addams Family Values
It’s true that the camp skit or musical inevitably goes
wrong. How can it possibly go right,
children are WILD CARDS. But to the level of the camp burning down? And campers
and counselors running everywhere like crazy chickens? I don’t think so.
5. The kitchen staff is weird.
As seen in: We Hot American Summer
Ugh, is some wacko always serving you food? They smell bad, they make inedible, super
recycled slop, have no home or place to go that isn’t camp, and don’t exactly enjoy
the company of children. Still hungry for lunch before dodgeball? Probably.
6. The cabin full o’ misfits.
As seen in: Ernest Goes to Camp
Hard to hate on the cliché of the misfit cabin,
though. It’s that thing about never fitting in, except with each other. Bonus: they’re
also portrayed as secretly the coolest people at camp AKA the cabin we all want
to be in because they always end up winning the campwide event or trophy or
whatever else junk.
7. The overly
enthusiast career counselor.
As seen in: Moonrise Kingdom
Born to do it.
This lady or dude doesn’t live for anything but camp. They’re like these lost-in-time overgrown
campers existing only for the campiverse.
Undeniably found at every camp in America.
Did you spot any
clichés at your camp experience? Share them with us!