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7 Camp Clichés M. Beth Bloom is SO Over

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 summer??).  

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? Yeah.


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!