SUMMERCAMP! A Documentary

This was the website for the 2006 documentary, Summercamp! Content is from the site's archived pages.


Summercamp! follows the day-to-day drama of 90 kids let loose in the woods at Swift Nature Camp in northern Wisconsin. Camp is a place where kids can be kids, where their home and school lives momentarily fade into the background as they go through the highs and lows of adolescent rituals: sing-alongs, talent shows, homesickness, counselor mutiny--and first love. Amidst group activities, showy arguments, and secret conversations, filmmakers Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price submerge themselves into this curious camp subculture, capturing a diverse array of adolescents from all economic and social backgrounds. Through the non-calloused eyes of kids, Summercamp! captures the raw emotional experiences that will endure with them for the rest of their lives.

Within Summercamp! we meet:

Cameron – Struggling with popularity at camp, his anti-social antics push him and his counselors to the edge.

Spencer – Ultra-articulate and a self proclaimed "Leader, not follower." He can be found brooding and reading Tom Clancy by the lake.

Holly – A self-reflective loner who obsesses over chickadees and pocket able friends.

Boo – Bright and quick-witted, she revels in the plethora of friends she finds at camp; a stark contrast to the loneliness she feels at home.

Summercamp! lends insight into the world of the modern American adolescent who, while preparing for adulthood at home, still clings to childhood frivolity and curiosity at camp. The film witnesses how three short weeks ultimately affect their personal identities and collective futures, while at once reminiscing on what it was like to sample the first taste of independence.



Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price's beguiling SUMMERCAMP! follows campers aged between 6 and 15 as they form friendships, fight homesickness and gossip about their prescribed mood-altering medications. Featuring music by The Flaming Lips and Noisola, this endearing film explores the agony and ecstasy of life in the unique and temporary communities of summer camps. In association with Orchard Pictures. Featuring Swift Nature Camp.



"sweet, sunny day documentary." THE BOSTON PHOENIX

"moved beyond words." THE BOSTON GLOBE

"Insightful and refreshing." LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR

"A feel good hit for the summer." THE ONION

"Summercamp is a riot of talent shows and campfires, canoeing, and holistic clowning." THE NEW YORK TIMES

"With tenderness and joy, Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price capture the precious moments of preteen freedom—not from parents and school, but from self-awareness and doubt." TIME OUT NEW YORK

"the saddest, sweetest, most magical and most deeply affecting movie of the season." SALON.COM

"utterly charming.........Beesley and Price's young subjects are smart and unusually articulate, and they talk about their lives with a perspective one doesn't expect from children." TV GUIDE ONLINE

"a rarity...a sweeter, more unassuming movie isn't likely to come our way anytime soon." NEW YORK POST

"Summercamp, a marvelously honest new film." NEW YORK SUN

"In its shuddering truth, Summercamp! dares to suggest that the grand disaster of youth as we knew it was actually... fun." THE REELER



"Pure and heartbreaking, if you don't relate to this film you were never a kid.”-Chicago Tribune

“ will go down as one of the most entertaining movies of the year.”-Filmthreat – Eric Campos

“You'll definitely leave with a smile on your face.” - Ain’t it Cool News

”...a respectful, contemplative, and often blithe portrait of kids being kids” -The Austin Chronicle

“Hilarious, touching and a hell of a lot of fun.”-Time Out Chicago





10/10 Stars

Author: rnspreng from United States 18 September 2006

I saw this movie at the International Film Festival in Toronto, Summer 2006, and absolutely loved it. The doc was inspired by a radio piece aired by This American Life on WBEZ in Chicago. While children and the outdoors may get far too much credit and attention in today's world, this documentary certainly deserves all the attention it can get. The crew gives attention to the basics of three weeks of camp life, camp counselors, and the boys' and girls' dynamics with hilarity. Ultimately, the emphasis falls upon two individual campers. Both stories are wonderful, poignant, a little creepy, yet inspiring. I've never been happier revisiting the awkwardness of youth, contented in my own age, or resolved to send my own children off for the Summer.


In The Good New Summertime

10/10 Stars

Author: Seamus2829 from United States 30 September 2007

Anybody who ever went to Summer Camp will surely be able to relate to this documentary. It deals with a few weeks at a Summer Camp for young folk, aged 6 to 15. We are introduced to the main element of the more troubled campers, an introvert, a bully,a passive-aggressive,and others. It seems to be (Summer Camp,that is)an antidote to pill popping (for the youngsters that are saddled with ADD/ADHD). The film is alternatively funny & heart breaking. The soundtrack is studded with the music of alternative rock Gods, The Flaming Lips,and some other band called Noiseola,whom I'm not familiar with, but still added a rather tasty added instrumental score. Pity that most cinemas won't be screening this much needed alternative to the drab Summer film fare (do we really need more films featuring super heroes,pyrotechnics gone berserk,horny teens,and just general stupidity than there is already?). About the only thing that would make this documentary complete would be that the snack bar serves S'mores for this engagement.


a yummy bite from the past

10/10 Stars

Author: candaceb1 from United States 30 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember camp. A time before I realized that it was a way for our parents to get rid of us for a week or more. I found this such a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. To revisit a time when things were more simple than they are now- I guess I should say, revisit a time in my memory when things where not so important...made me want to go to camp, fish and swim...before my body became something I cringed at in a bikini. I found myself wishing for a fun filled week with no worries, mosquito bites and smores... I thank the filmmakers for making me miss my youth for the first time is a very long time.


Much better than I expected

7/10 Stars

Author: runamokprods from US 16 January 2012

Five minutes in I thought 'I'm going to hate this movie'. It seemed like it was just going to be a documentary of cutesy moments of kids at camp. But a bunch of good reviews led me to it, and by halfway in I understood why.

As these kids (and their counselors) come into focus as human beings it actually becomes a moving memory of childhood – it's joys, but also it's confusions, pains, hurts and loses. That doesn't mean it's a down-beat movie. Ultimately it's vibe is positive, but it's not a Pollyanna kind of positive view of childhood. It gets just how life is bittersweet, even (or especially?) when you're 10 years old.


Good, not great

7/10 Stars

Author: bean-d from United States 7 July 2010

"Summercamp" is definitely worth watching, especially if you're a fan of small documentaries. However the strength of "Summercamp" is also its weakness: it captures very well the joy, fun, and homesickness of summer camp--but that's about all it does. Certainly that's enough, which is why I gave it a 7/10, but to be a great documentary I would have liked the film to have gone beyond just summer camp and given me some insight into life. Yes, there are the occasional nuggets, but perhaps the film focused on too many characters to be able to mine the potential here. Having not attended a summer camp, I felt like I learned what the experience was like. But having been a child, I didn't feel like the film captured deeply--and I mean deeply--the experience of childhood. We see the superficial fun and angst of childhood, but not much else. Still the film is worth your time.