My biggest childhood regret is that I never attended a sleepaway camp. It looked like so much fun in the movies -- you got to make friends from exotic places like "Iowa," have virtually no adult supervision, eat s'mores and popsicles for every meal, come of age, all that good kid stuff. I may be too old to attend as a camper, but at least you can never be too old to relive these classic summer camp movies by visiting the filming locations. Check out the map (full size here) to see where your favorite fictional summer camp is located in real life!
The closest you can come to an epic last day at Camp Firewood from Wet Hot American Summer is a day at Camp Towanda. Allegedly, the producers of the movie told the owners of Camp Towanda that they were making a family movie in order to get permission to film there -- and the owners were horrified when they saw the final cut. If you do visit, just watch out for falling pieces of NASA's Skylab and talking cans of mixed vegetables.
Camp Crystal Lake
Even though you can technically visit the infamous Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th, does anyone actually want to? The site, which is actually called Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, was never abandoned, and no murders have occurred there -- it's really just an innocent Boy Scout camp. Unless that's just what Jason and Mrs. Voorhees want you to think...
Heavyweights was a movie that made fat camp look almost like paradise. In real life, Camp Pinnacle isn't actually a camp for portly, irreverant youths, but on the bright side, it isn't run by Tony Perkis... and even better, it looks like they still have The Blob in real life!
This is actually the real-life Camp Walden where the beginning of the film The Parent Trap is supposed to take place -- and yes, it is an all-girls camp. The movie does a fairly good job of recreating the setting, despite the fact that it was filmed elsewhere. While we can't guarantee that you'll meet your long-lost twin here, you can still have an epic prank war -- although I'm not sure if they still use the Isolation Cabin or not.
Make like a Khaki Scout and hit up Camp Yawgoog, where parts of Wes Anderson's magical, whimsical Moonrise Kingdom were filmed. So even though Camp Ivanhoe is sort of a real place, I'm pretty sure Ed Norton isn't a counselor, and their epic treehouse was just the result of some adorably twee movie magic. Sigh.
Camp North Star
I can't think of a better, more perfect camp counselor than the one and only Bill Murray. Camp White Pine is the real camp where Meatballs was filmed, but without head counsellor Tripper Harrison and his band of plucky CITs, I don't know how Camp White Pine expects to be able to beat Camp Mohawk in the annual Olympiad.
Ernest Goes to Camp is a classic, but visiting Camp MaryMount, where the movie was filmed, isn't exactly the same as watching the movie. Partially because loveably bumbling janitor/camp counselor Ernest P. Worrell isn't real (unfortunately) and partially because those who attend will never have to worry about an evil businessman buying the land to mine it for valuable petrocite (which actually isn't real either). With its absurd plot and immature humor, it's a shining example of a stereotypical 80's camp movie.
You may remember this summer camp from Addams Family Values, when Wednesday and Pugsley are sent away so their nanny can gold dig Uncle Fester. Whether or not you think the Addams kids would have been the bunkmates from hell or your ideal misfit best friends, we can probably all agree that it's a good thing that YMCA Camp Sequoia Lake, where the camp scenes were filmed, doesn't have a Harmony Hut in real life. Shudder.
Okay, so it's a TV show and not a movie, but kids who watched the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts will forever hold Camp Anawanna in their hearts (and yes, it probably makes you wanna fart, too). The lake at Franklin Canyon Park served as the location for many of the exterior shots for the show-- and as an added bonus, it's also been featured in The Andy Griffith Show, Big Momma's House, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Star Trek, among other shows and movies.
Another camp movie featuring twins! Mary Kate and Ashley play a Amanda Lemmon, a scrappy orphan who attends Camp Callaway, and Alyssa Callaway, a rich girl whose dad founded the camp in It Takes Two. Camp Mini-Yo-We may not be a summer camp for orphans, but heading up for a visit will likely culminate in an ending as gratuitously happy as the one in the family friendly flick.
Golden Oak Ranch served as the location for cheesy cult classic Camp Nowhere. I can't argue that sending a kid to computer camp for the summer is cruel and unusual punishment, but let's be real... a bunch of kids all on their own for a whole summer probably wouldn't turn out quite like this. Also, fun fact: this was Jessica Alba's film debut!
Indian Summer takes place at Camp Tamakwa, and was actually filmed on location there. Writer/director Mike Binder attended Camp Tamakwa as a child, so you can imagine that the movie stays pretty true to the camp. Even though the camp faces closure in the film, Tamakwa is still going strong and entertaining kids so parents can get a break each summer. After visiting, be prepared to experience extreme nostalgia, though!
Ah, Little Darlings! Pop in the rad soundtrack and head out to visit the real-life location of Camp Tomahawk. This raunchy coming of age tale was filmed at the (weirdly named) Hard Labor Creek State Park. But, as they say in the movie, "Don't let the name fool you." It's got quaint cottages, a lakeshore beach, and tons of trails. Sadly, dreamy young Matt Dillon not included.
Sleepaway Camp was filmed at New York's Camp Algonquin. The camp was closed by the time they filmed the movie, and most of the camp was torn down afterwards. Maybe a good thing, considering all of the sh*t that went down there in the movie...I wouldn't want to send my kid there. However, the baseball diamond and tennis courts remain, in case you're brave enough to visit. Maybe not at night, though.
Which camp would you most like to attend? Or did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!