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By Wonderwall Editors
Summer camp — an American staple — provides juicy territory for film and television tales. Consider this: isolated, parent-free hordes of kids, monitored by counselors just a few years older. Perfect for comedy, horror and drama. And with NBC's new show "Camp" debuting on July 10 at 10 p.m., there's no time like the present to take a look at iconic summer camps and the tramps and scamps who populate them.
Little Otter Family Camp
Rachel Griffiths plays the owner of this summer camp, who is reeling after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. One-night stands with rival camp owners? First crushes? Flirty camp counselors? Those are all things you can expect on this funny show that will make you nostalgic for your own summers spent at camp.
(NBC's "Camp" is produced by BermanBraun, the same company that produces Wonderwall.)
Camp Little Wolf
Initiation rites are a summer camp standard, and the Atlanta-area Camp Little Wolf, the setting for 1980's "Little Darlings," was no exception. Teeming with teen estrogen, this camp was a hotbed of sexual tension and rivalry, as Angel (Kristy McNichol, left) and Ferris (Tatum O'Neal) raced to see who could lose their V-card first.
Setting teenage girls' hearts aflutter — and likely increasing camper numbers for music camps across the country, the Disney Channel's 2008 "Camp Rock" was so popular, it spawned a sequel. Teen stars Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Kevin Jonas starred in the tele-movie, which featured a plot that was basically "High School Musical" at summer camp. Translation: a lot of peppy tunes and puppy love.
Nearly all the summer camps on our list glean inspiration from existing camps, and 1986's "SpaceCamp," starring Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, Joaquin Phoenix and Lea Thompson, is no exception. However, at the U.S. Space Camp in Alabama, campers wouldn't ever "accidentally" launch a shuttle into actual space.
Camp North Star
The ultimate summer camp movie, "Meatballs" (1979) and its Camp North Star set the standard for summer camp movies and raunchy comedies. CIT (counselor-in-training) and camper hookups, the across-the-lake rivalry with Camp Mohawk and punking the officious camp director may be how "Meatballs" is best remembered, but don't forget the sweet side story. Bill Murray's "Tripper" befriends lonely camper Rudy (Chris Makepeace), greeting him with: "You must be the short, depressed kid we ordered."
Camp Crystal Lake
You won't find any long-term campers at "Friday the 13th's" Camp Crystal Lake, thanks to hockey-masked Jason Voorhees. In 1958, Crystal Lake counselors, seen here, were too busy having sex to save camper Jason from drowning. The original 1980 film set the much-copied precedent for slasher flicks to come: sex — and drinking and drugs — will get you slaughtered quickly.
Intended as a homage to earlier summer camp films, 2001's "Wet Hot American Summer" is set at the Jewish Camp Firewood in 1981, as campers and counselors prep for the last-day-of-camp talent show, and to find someone to kiss at the end of the night. Paul Rudd's Andy delivers one of the film's most oft-quoted lines: "You taste like a burger, I don't like you anymore." Ewww.
The beautiful Maine location of Camp Walden, from 1998's "The Parent Trap," provides a felicitous meeting of separated-at-birth twins (Lindsay Lohan). Lohan is Hallie from Napa, who ends up in the Arapaho bunks, as well as Annie from London, who's placed in the Navajo cabin. It's hate at first sight, until they're thrown together in the Isolation Bunk and realize they're sisters! Of course this was all back when Lohan was sweet and innocent. If only she had stayed at camp …
The best way to describe Camp Chippewa in 1993's "Addams Family Values" is to let our favorite creepy family do the talking. Morticia (Angelia Houston) tells her recalcitrant daughter, "Wednesday, look at all of the other children, their freckles, their bright little eyes, their eager, friendly smiles. Help them." Her brother, Puglsey, asks, "What's a Chippewa?" Their father, Gomez (Raul Julia), answers, "It's an old Indian word." The perennially gloomy Wednesday, expressing her displeasure at being sent to summer camp, adds, "It means 'orphan.'" Well played, Wednesday.
Camp Anawanna's broadly comic (and admittedly corny) activities were traditionally associated with summer camp, including telling campfire tales, hiking, nature walks, poison sumac, bunk-captain campaigns, competitive sports, swimming, putting on plays and penning a subversive camp newsletter. Ah, how we miss those days, don't you?
"Gossip Girl's" Aaron Schwartz and "SNL's" Kenan Thompson are among the boys sent to Camp Hope, a fat camp run by ambitious fitness entrepreneur Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller) in 1995's "Heavyweights." Perkis' goal is to teach not healthy eating and exercise but a self-promoting weight-loss infomercial.
Jonathan Tiersten and Felissa Rose were in 1983's "Sleepaway Camp," a cult classic that is notable for having one of the most shocking endings in the genre. The original is considered less gory than the sequels, but, still, one camper is dispatched unspeakably, by a curling iron, making it a camp you might never return home from.
Many of the featured summer camps are inspired by screenwriters' own nostalgic experiences, and 1993's "Indian Summer" was set and filmed at Ontario's Camp Tamakwa, the actual camp where writer Mike Binder spent his summers. Our favorite campers from this flick? Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Pollak.
In 2009's "Fired Up!," Eric Christian Olsen (left) and Nicholas D'Agosto (30 and 27 at the time of filming) are popular high school football players who con their way into a cheerleader camp to get close to the 300 pretty campers. What starts as a lark evolves into the guys' discovering a fondness for cheerleading. For real!