16 Family-Friendly Movies That Make Us Miss Summer Camp

Chloe Wilt | Jun 3, 2020 Movies
16 Family-Friendly Movies That Make Us Miss Summer Camp

Lindsay Lohan in
Buena Vista Pictures

This summer likely will not turn out how anyone expected. Summer festivals, events, and even beloved summer camps are being canceled due to the global health issue. Luckily, there are some great family-friendly movies revolving around life at camp that are a perfect substitute. We'd all rather be at the real thing, and some of these summer camp movies are making us wish for past summer days in cabins. Some summer camp movies are frightening horrors or raunchy comedies that aren't exactly appropriate for kiddos. These 16 movies, however, are appropriate for family members of all ages -- plus, they're entertaining enough that Mom and Dad will enjoy them, too. 

There's something so nostalgic about summer camp movies. Many of these films are throwbacks from the '80s and '90s, with some dating all the way back to the 1970s. Kids are usually at the center of summer camp classics, but the counselors can often have an interesting story line, too. There's a movie about twins separated at birth and reunited at an annual camp, and a story of two kids falling in love from different sides of the track. People can even take a trip to outer space gone terribly wrong -- or dance along to a summer camp all about music. 

Real summer camp requires bug spray, sunscreen, and a fishing pole. Celebrate childhood rebellion, friendships, and first tastes of freedom with these 16 family-friendly movies all about summer camp. Even if someone never went to a fun sleepaway camp, it wouldn't be hard to get a sense of what goes on based on these films.

  • 'The Parent Trap'

    1

    Rated: PG

    Identical twins Annie and Hallie were separated after their parents divorced, and they never knew about each another. When they get sent to the same sleepaway camp for a summer, the two run into each other, and nothing is ever the same. The girls decide to trade places and get their parents back together. Lindsay Lohan starred as both of the twins in The Parent Trap, her film debut. 

  • 'Addams Family Values'

    2

    Rated: PG-13

    In Addams Family Values, the Addams family have a few new additions: a baby brother, and a gold-digging Aunt who's after Uncle Fester's money. Wednesday and Pugsley see through Debbie's facade, so she sends the two off to summer camp. Dark and dreary Wednesday is off on her first adventure to summer camp, but she finds it difficult to get along with the preppy, happy girls. The Addams siblings fight their way through the jovial camp to get back home and warn their uncle about his new wife's sinister plans. 

  • 'It Takes Two'

    3

    Rated: PG

    Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen play identical strangers -- sad rich girl Alyssa, and tomboy orphan Amanda. The two have a similar problem: They both want a change in life. The two meet at summer camp and decide to switch places to try to fix these issues. Amanda's social worker mom and Alyssa's dad end up meeting in the process, and the girls get them to fall for each other before he marries the wrong person.

  • 'Moonrise Kingdom'

    4

    Rated: PG-13

    In Moonrise Kingdom, a pair of young lovers flee from their New England homes and run away to the wilderness together. A massive search party follows as one of the kids missing is a boy scout from a nearby camp. What started as a sweet, innocent romance leads to a great love. Still, the duo must escape the town's residents who are seeking to find them and split them up. 

  • 'Space Camp'

    5

    Rated: PG

    A group of American teenagers spend their summer break at a space camp to learn about the stars. The kids find themselves among the stars when they accidentally board a spaceship set to launch. They must work together to find a way to ground their shuttle as it slowly runs out of oxygen. Led by astronaut Andie Bergstrom (Kate Capshaw), the four campers get a real hands-on experience and learn how to operate the spacecraft so they can get home.

  • 'Camp Nowhere'

    6

    Rated: PG

    Some middle school kids are avoiding going to summer camps chosen by their parents and instead, are creating one for themselves. Morris "Mud" Himmel devises a plan to get he and his friends into an independent paradise. With the help of the former drama teacher, the kids all sneak away to a fake camp and spend the summer together.

    ... but first, they have to convince their parents of its legitimacy. 

  • 'Heavyweights'

    7

    Rated: PG

    Some overweight kids are lured into a summer camp that promises effective weight loss strategies, all while maintaining the fun of a sleepaway camp. The camp is run by an ex-fitness fanatic (Ben Stiller) who is actually pretty miserable. One kid, Jerry, decides to take a stand against the bullying instructor, and he gets his posse of friends to take back the camp and turn it into what it promised. 

  • 'Meatballs'

    8

    Rated: PG

    In MeatballsBill Murray plays Tripper, a fun-loving camp counselor who has all of the witty jokes and knows just how to get all of the girls. Tripper helps encourage a new camper, Rudy, to have more confidence and better self-esteem. At the end of the summer, Tripper convinces all of the kids to try their hardest to win the Camp Olympics for the first time. Ultimately, Tripper helps the campers have the best summer of their lives. 

  • 'Troop Beverly Hills'

    9

    Rated: PG

    A Beverly Hills housewife is going through a tumultuous period. In the middle of a divorce, she tries to prove herself to her family by taking on the role of den mother for her daughter's Girl Scout troop. Each of the girls learns a valuable lesson from Phyllis (Shelley Long), and she learns valuable lessons from them. Unfortunately, another troop mom doesn't think they are playing by the rules and sabotages their patches. 

  • 'Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown'

    10

    Rated: G

    The entire Peanuts gang is out of the neighborhood and at summer camp for the season. (Even Snoopy and Woodstock get in on the adventure at Camp Remote.) The crew take part in a river-rafting tournament but have to deal with cheating bullies. As if that is not bad enough, the river turns into rapids quickly, and there are many wild animals around. 

  • 'Ernest Goes to Camp'

    11

    Rated: PG

    Jim Varney takes on his role of the lovable loser Ernest in another iteration of Ernest Goes To ... This time, he's headed to Kamp Kikakee, and is working as a handyman. Ernest has aspirations to become a guidance counselor, but he needs to get his head on straight before he can take on that important role. When a mining corporation wants to shut down the park, he works with the group to stop them. 

  • 'The Baby-Sitters Club'

    12

    Rated: PG

    Seven middle school besties find out the perfect way to spend the summer together and earn a little cash: The group of girls start a summer day care camp for the kids they babysit. Life at the camp gets complicated as relationships, family problems, and a rival day care service get in the way. Based on the book series of the same name, this movie is a classic that is a rite of passage for middle school girls to see.

  • 'Holes'

    13

    Rated: PG

    Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) has always had the worst luck, and things took a turn for the worse when he was sent to a juvenile detention summer camp in the middle of the desert. When wrongfully accused of stealing sneakers, Stanley's punishment is to dig holes daily in the hot Texas sun. There, he discovers stories about his past, hidden treasure, and corruption at the camp. Plus, he finds friends in the most unlikely place. 

  • 'Camp Rock'

    14

    Rated: TV-G

    This Disney Channel original movie is a classic with amazing song and dance numbers. The Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato star as camp-goers with incredible musical talents. Mitchie (Lovato) is attending the camp on scholarship but lies to her new friends, saying she's rich to fit in. Eventually, Mitchie will have to come to terms with who she really is and hope that everyone will accept her. 

  • 'Stagedoor'

    15

    Rated: PG

    This documentary features kids who dream of a life on Broadway. At a summer camp in the Catskill Mountains, these teens can practice their craft and get both theatrical and musical training. (They even get a taste of the spotlight they so crave.) The documentary focuses on five kids at the camp, and at the institution as a whole. 

  • 'Indian Summer' 

    16
    Buena Vista via Getty Images

    Rated: PG-13

    In Indian Summer, seven childhood friends reunite at the summer camp where they became close and are heartbroken to discover that the camp is threatened with closure. As adults, their problems may be different from their time at the camp 20 years earlier, but they still work together just the same. The group grows nostalgic for their time at Camp Tamakwa, reverting back to their past selves ... and even past relationships. 

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