We'd spend summer at these 7 fictional summer camps from TV
Would you rather spend the summer at Camp Runamuck, Camp König or Camp Winokee?
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! Growing up, summers were about mosquitos, short shorts, tying knots and first kisses. Yes, we're talking about summer camp.
For some, summer camp was a paradise, for others it was a sentence. Either way, in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, summer camps were a rite of passage. Here youngsters learned to canoe, start fires with sticks, tug-of-war and pitch a tent. In this golden era, "summer camp" became a genre of entertainment. The forest was the new beach. Camp movies like Little Darlings and Meatballs lured teens with their bawdy comedy.
There were several fictional summer camps on the small screen, too. Here are some of our favorite TV camps.
1. Camp Runamuck and Camp Devine on 'Camp Runamuck'
We start with the overlooked original. NBC pitched this tentpole in 1965, yet the show only managed 26 episodes in a single season. Perhaps audiences were not in the mood for storylines about camp in the dead of winter. Some of the scenarios and characters that populated the boys' Camp Runamuck and the girls' Camp Devine were based on the novelty song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" by Allan Sherman. Despite its brief run, the series did spawn a board game.
2. Camp Winokee on 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Where do all the posh Carolina kids head in the summer? Lake Winokee. In the season eight episode "Opie Steps Up in Class," Aunt Bee and Andy argue over the merits of sending Opie to the gorgeous — and expensive — camp. Andy proclaims, "He'll be out on the woods and on the lake in the fresh air!" Bee replies, "The air's fresh in Mayberry and it doesn't cost $10 a day!" According to the Sheriff, Camp Winokee is "the best in the state." And in a world as idyllic as Mayberry, this would undoubedly be the picture-perfect camp. After all, the rich families in Walnut Hill send their children to these green 200 acres, complete with "rugged riding trails, tennis, water skiing." Send us!
3. Camp König on 'Leave It to Beaver'
In "Beaver's House Guest," the Beav returns from Camp König with a new buddy, Chopper Cooper. Ward and June become a little concerned, however, when they learn Chopper's parents are — gasp! — divorced. Why did it always seem like there were kids named Beaver and Chopper at camp?
4. Camp Nowee on 'Happy Days'
As Beaver knows, camp buddies are for life. Heck, going to camp in Wisconsin in the 1940s, you might have become pals with future rock & roll stars. In the early Happy Days episode "Fish and the Fins," Richie boasts that he went to camp with Rocky Rhodes, leader of a hot and hoppin' rock band. He earns major cred points, especially with his swooning sister. Richie asks Rocky if he remembers their time together when they were nine years old at Camp Nowee. "How could I forget? You shoved me in the lake," Rocky says. Richie did save him afterward. Fun times!
5. Camp Kookalookie on 'Punky Brewster'
Unlike Leave It to Beaver and Happy Days, we thankfully get to see the camp in this '80s sitcom's "Going to Camp." Punky and Cherie shack up in Cabin 12 at Camp Kookalookie, a surprisingly transparent structure largely made out of windows. That hardly seems private. Punky gets a peck on the cheek from a cute boy at "Kissing Rock." Oooo!
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
6. Camp Soonawissakit in 'Summer Switch'
The camp movie craze naturally made it to the afterschool special — where it blended with another movie trend of the 1980s, body-swap comedy. Summer Switch was based on a book by Mary Rodgers, part of her popular Freaky Friday series. Father and son switch bodies, as Robert Klein's brain jumps into the body of Scott Schwartz (best known as the kid who sticks his tongue to a pole in A Christmas Story). Camp Soonawissakit was the prototypical fictional camp, replete with bullies, nerds, romance and bugs.
7. Frontier Scouts on 'The Brady Bunch'
Okay, this is not technically a camp, but we'd be remiss to not mention the Bradys, the most camp-happy family on television. The blended clan would head out on annual family camping trips, visiting the Grand Canyon ("Ghost Town U.S.A.") and other picturesque locales. But the greatest Brady Bunch episode about the great outdoors is perhaps "The Liberation of Marcia Brady," when Marcia joins the all-male Frontier Scouts. The lesson of the Bradys is: Camp is where you make it.