TV Shows About Summer Camp: From Past to Present

TV Shows About Summer Camp: From Past to Present

Freeform's Dead of Summer

Freeform’s newest TV series Dead of Summer premieres Tuesday June 28th at 9pm. Created by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and Ian Goldberg of Once Upon a Time, Dead of Summer appears to follow Freeform’s traditional blueprint of putting young people in creepy situations (see also: Pretty Little Liars, Guilt, Shadowhunters, and Stitchers). In this instance, you guessed it, they’ll be trying to survive summer camp.

Initial previews were super cryptic, but a full-length trailer is now available and it finally sheds some light on what the show is actually about. Take a look:

While Camp Stillwater may prove to be deadly, most summer camps thankfully aren’t nearly as difficult to survive. Here’s six other shows you can watch if you prefer the lighter side of summer camp. You know the ones with color wars, talent shows, and talking cans:

Salute Your Shorts – Nickelodeon (1991)

Salute Your Shorts

Camp Anawanna, I do hold you in my heart. This classic 90s Nick show ran for two seasons and followed a ragtag group of campers determined to make the most of their summer vacation, even if it was at the expense of their camp counselor’s sanity.

Bug Juice – Disney Channel (1998)

Bug Juice

Salute Your Shorts was the show that made me want to go to sleep-away summer camp; this was the show that made me realize I would have most likely been the kid that didn’t really fit in and kind of did their own thing the entire time. Needless to say I never went to summer camp when I was younger, but I did enjoy watching other kids go to summer camp in Disney’s reality series Bug Juice. The show aired for three seasons and as the theme song says, it was “…real kids, making friends, having fun”.

Huge – ABC Family (2010)

Huge ABC Family

ABC Family’s original series Huge was based on a YA novel of the same name and followed a group of teens at a weight loss camp called Camp Victory. It may have only lasted ten episodes, but it remains memorable for the way it ably handled complicated coming-of-age issues such as body image and self-discovery.

Camp – NBC (2013)

NBC Camp

Camp was one of those shows that tried to have its cake and eat it too. Set at a fictional family camp, is that a real thing (?), Camp tried to balance the storylines for its youth campers, adults campers, counselors, counselors in training, a rival camp, and a few other extraneous figures. If that sounds like a lot to juggle, it was. Unsurprisingly it only ran for one season.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp – Netflix (2015)

Wet Hot American Summer

The now-cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer was released in 2001. Fourteen years later it’s prequel landed on Netflix as an eight part TV series. Despite the huge lapse in time, the core cast, which included Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo, and many more returned to Camp Firewood to reprise their original roles. A second installment of the franchise has already been given the go-ahead, this one will jump 10 years in the future and is expected to debut in 2017.

Bunk’d – Disney Channel (2015)


I’ll be honest, this is the only one of the bunch I haven’t see, but according to Wikipedia and IMDB, Bunk’d is a spin-off of the Disney original series Jessie. The show follows the three Ross kids, Emma, Ravi, and Zuri, from New York City to Camp Kikiwaka in Maine. New episodes are currently airing Fridays at 8pm.

Obviously Wet Hot American Summer and Bunk’d are available via Netflix and the Disney Channel respectively. But if you’re looking for one of the older series, YouTube is your best bet. Most of them can be found in some way shape or form on there. And depending on your region, Amazon and iTunes may also have what you are looking for (and in less fragmented pieces too).

Happy Summer!

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Written by Jamie Paton

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TV Shows