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#136. Summer Camp

Summer camp is often seen as one of the most influential moments in a child’s life. Not only is it the first instance a child is away from their parents for the longest time they’ve ever experienced, but it’s a key defining event in developing skills that will assist them on their way toward puberty and beyond. Even though this skill development is a subconscious growth for the camp attendees, there are many other activities at camp that kids don’t normally get to do at home. Activities like canoeing, archery, and underwater basket-weaving are often impossible to do if not in the infrastructure of a camp. And yet, perhaps the most important part of camp is the relationships with peers. Many will find these relationships quickly develop and will learn valuable interpersonal skills from them. This week’s two films look at some interesting summer camp experiences.

Moonrise KingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 94 minutes / 1.56 hours

Having been through the Boy Scouts of America, I can say that some of the best, but most challenging experiences of the program are at summer camp. If I didn’t go to summer camp, I wouldn’t have learned how to shoot (shotgun, rifle, archery). I wouldn’t have learned how to canoe. I wouldn’t have learned various other crafts (woodcarving, metalwork, leatherwork, basketry). But most of all, I wouldn’t have learned how to be independent. One of the most difficult things to cope with for a boy’s first summer camp is a week away from his parents. Most campouts are only two nights long, so by Wednesday evening, they’re wondering when they’re going home. Of course, this is a very different experience for boys who do not have parents. Orphans in foster homes, like Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), will thrive in situations which demand their independence.

Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton) notices one morning at a Khaki Scout summer camp on New Penzance island that one of his charges is missing (a la Shawshank Redemption). What’s more troubling is the letter of resignation he finds in Sam Shakusky’s tent. Sam’s fellow Khaki Scouts have determined to find him, and when they eventually do, they find that Sam has a partner, local girl Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), who has also run away from home. After being defeated by the two, the scouts limp back to camp, but when they learn that Sam is an orphan and that his foster parents won’t even take him back now, they set out once again to reunite Sam and Suzy who have since been found by the adults. As a storm looms on the horizon, the scouts take the couple to another Khaki Scout camp on another island to get married. However, Sam’s fate is still in question when Social Services arrives ahead of the storm.

The Parent TrapThe Parent Trap
Year: 1998
Rating: PG
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

Some of the best friendships a child can develop are started at a summer camp. There’s just something about the wilderness and “roughing it” that brings kids together. When allowed the freedom to band together, children will automatically find that a community is much stronger than an individual. And even though, left unsupervised, kids might often bring the worst out in each other (think Lord of the Flies), there’s a creativity in their schemes that really cannot be matched later in life. Of course, going to camp with siblings can create some interesting situations, be they good or bad. But what’s even more interesting is going to camp and coming back with a sibling, or at least a sibling you never knew existed until now. In a world full of divorce and split custodies, situations like this probably aren’t as farfetched as you’d think.

Annie and Hallie (Lindsay Lohan) are two girls who are attending a summer camp in Maine when they meet for the first time and find that they look exactly like each other. This curious coincidence leads the two girls to fight each other with ever increasing pranks until they’re both punished by the camp counselors. As they serve their sentence in isolation, they finally come to the conclusion that they are twins, separated at birth. In order for them to get to know their other parent, they hatch a scheme to switch identities. When the twins get picked up from camp, the parents are unaware of the switch, but soon the mother, Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson), learns of the ruse at the same time she learns her ex-husband is being courted by a gold-digger. Working with the girls, she tries to get rid of the father’s girlfriend, not knowing that the girls’ true goal is to get their parents re-married to each other.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 summer camp capers


One response to “#136. Summer Camp

  1. Pingback: End of Act Three | Cinema Connections

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