Camp Cookies + Sangria: Revisiting The Baby-Sitters Club Movie

For many girls (and boys) of our generation, the Baby-Sitters Club played a huge part in our childhood. Of course there were the beloved books, the TV show, and in 1995 came the feature film. I was particularly fond of said film, and it was one of my absolute favorites. So much so that I practically wore out my VHS tape – that’s right kids, a VHS tape because this was before DVDs existed. In fact I was so fond of the movie that when my friends wanted to borrow my copy, I was paranoid they wouldn’t give it back that I created a fake library card, forcing them to write their name and sign the tape in and out up the return. That story again: I was a huge nerd.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it takes place over the course of the summer, and the BSC decides to make some extra money by holding a summer day camp for the kids in the backyard of Mary Anne’s house. As a nine year old watching the movie, the BSC summer camp seemed like paradise. As I previously mentioned, I only went to summer camp once, for one week only. If you’re wondering what I did all the other weeks of summer – the answer is… I guess I spent a lot of time at home? Sometimes going to my parents’ office? Oh I did go to a day camp for a few years at the Christian school my friend went too. I forgot I did that. NEWAYZ, the point is that as an only child, the thought of hanging out with other people at a summer camp in a back yard seemed really cool.

I decided to watch the BSC movie for the first time in a number of years (on Netflix Instant! My VHS player is out of order), and looking back on it from an adult’s perspective – this summer camp doesn’t look like a kid’s idea of heaven – it looks like hell. Not only that, but it seems so unrealistic that parents would let their kids go to some ramshackle youth gathering with teen girls in charge. So naturally, I had a few thoughts about this. Here are just a few:

Before we start, here’s a song to get you in the mood/bring you back to 1995:

I’d like to start off by saying it’s weird watching this movie on Netflix because the quality is so clear. I’m used to seeing VHS quality, you know when it just felt like you’re watching a movie from the 90s. Even the 90s clothing kind of looks like they’re in style because it’s so clear. Also, hipsters.

Kristy: “I don’t mean to brag or anything, but we’re famous here in Stoneybrook. Everybody knows us. That’s because everybody uses us.” {maybe you should reevaluate the company you keep, Kristy}

Kristy, the leader of the BSC, pitches this day camp idea and all I can think of is HOW ARE THESE KIDS GOING TO RUN A SUMMER CAMP LEGALLY?? Like do they have to get a permit to run a business in a backyard? Good thing Mary Anne’s dad is a lawyer and has them sign a contract.

Stacey: “Do you guys think I should have told him?”
Everyone: “Who?”
Stacey: “Luca! He doesn’t know I have diabetes.”

The 17 year old you’re crushing on doesn’t know you’re 13, but the diabetes is your first concern? REALLY?!

Poor Marla Sokoloff, always typecast as the bitch. You may remember her for her work as Gia, the smoking girl who befriends Stephanie Judith Tanner in Full House. Here, she is seen wearing an outfit that makes me think she was inspired by Cher Horowitz, and in a diner on a Friday, because these kids are still in middle school.

The girls figure that if they charge $250 per camper and get at least 30 campbers they can make  $7,500! To which Jessi suggest, “We can get a fax machine!”

You know you’re old when you sympathize more with the curmudgeonly old neighbor (played by Ellen Burstyn) than the tweens running a summer camp for kids.

I mean look at the types of children that attend this camp though. Why all the band-aids on his face???

“You can tell somebody when you’re ticked off. I mean we can’t let men get away with everything.” {AHEAD OF ITS TIME}

Ok so mouse pancakes are one of those random things that stuck out to me in the movie even after all these years. It was Kristy’s (deadbeat) dad’s signature dish and he called them mouse pancakes because they were shaped like mice. In my head when I remember this, it was always a vague image… however, this is what they actually look like.

Also, Kristy’s stupid dad pretty much lived in the same bright yellow Volgswagen van Abigail Breslin was in as a toddler in a tiara. Kristy should’ve never trusted him. 

Oh hey Ellen Burstyn threatens to reject their permit and the girls freak out because they don’t have one. I guess I forgot they ran into this problem. PERMITS ARE IMPORTANT PEOPLE.

Dawn: “Did we even have a country back then?”
Mallory: “No, but we had a lot of diphtheria. What? I’m writing a novel about the first nurse in America.” {you WOULD}

Claudia had to go to summer school and she has to pass the final test or else she’s screwed. The girls make a rap for her to help her remember all the information she needs to know in order to pass the test.

Listen. There is no way Claudia could’ve passed based on the rap song her friends performed her ONE time. Also the lyrics don’t provide any useful information. They literally keep saying “the brain the brain the center of the chain”. HOW DOES THIS HELP HER WITH MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS?

Kristy’s mom: “Look at nana’s tomatoes. They’re huge! This year she’s singing them showtunes. They’re a lot bigger than when she was singing them church songs.” {and ironically 100% more gay}

Stacey and Claudia go to New York City with Luca and his friends to a teen club – but the problem is that they need to be 16 – and Luca still doesn’t know she’s 13. At least by this point he knows she’s diabetic. Obviously they can’t get in, but more importantly – remember TEEN CLUBS?? ARE THOSE STILL A THING?

Also, remember when we were so reliant on phones to contact people? I mean Kristy couldn’t get a hold of her father at the hotel he was staying at because he checked out and didn’t have a cell phone. Also he’s a douche because he said he would meet her at the carnival and left her a note instead, and the BSC had to get Luca to drive them to go find Kristy. Again, this all would’ve been much easier with cell phones.

One more thing about Luca – still a creep! What 17 year old guy hangs out with 13 year olds for fun? He also tells Stacey that he’ll be back next summer (he’s from Germany) and she says, “I’ll be 14” and then he kisses her. HELLO THAT’S EVEN WORSE HE’LL BE 18 AND BARELY LEGAL.

that haircut doe

In the end, they barely make a profit from the camp. The greenhouse they renovated to make an office for the club ended up going to curmudgeonly Ellen Burstyn and they’re all friends again. All is right in the world of Stoneybrook. And despite the fact I don’t think a day camp is cool anymore and Ellen Burstyn is probably me in 20 years, this movie is still library card worthy.

Camp Cookies + Sangria: This One Time, At College Camp

Here’s the cold hard truth about getting older – you default to lying only because you can’t remember. “Were you the one telling me about all your horrible birthdays? And how you think they’re ‘cursed’?” “Yeah, that was me… No wait, that’s not true. That’s Penny from Happy Endings. My birthdays are fine.”

For our summer series, we’ve talked about how we never got to go to camp as a kid – and that’s a lie. I’ve been to camp. I went to sleepaway camp for exactly one week when I was maybe 12 years old and that was it. Never went to summer camp again. I think the reason I always forget it happened was because the whole thing didn’t feel real and it was just a tiny blip in my life. Like the day I spelled ‘architect’ wrong in my 6th grade spelling bee was more memorable than my entire week at camp. Let me explain.

I went to a camp called Mindstretchers which was located at Keuka College in the tiny hamlet of Keuka Park, New York, right on the Finger Lakes (there are a bunch of lakes that look like fingers from afar, I realize how weird this sounds if you didn’t grow up in upstate NY). It was approximately an hour away from our hometown of Rochester, so it wasn’t too far that I felt like I was going on some big adventure.

I guess I always wanted to go to camp, because that’s what the cool kids did, like Lindsay Lohan on The Parent Trap, but my parents were never into it until the one year I guess they just got sick of me. But like I mentioned, this camp was at a college. I didn’t actually get that Parent Trap or Salute Your Shorts experience I had envisioned. This was like, kind of smart camp? I mean, imagine you’re like 12 years old and you get to spend a week at a sprawling campus – living in DORM ROOMS!! Shared bathrooms! Living the life, y’all.

college camp

i’m not pictured in this photo, fyi

So here we were, just a group of kids between the ages of 10 to 15 at this camp called Mindstretchers, which BTW, according to one internet poster, is described as a “camp for creative thinking and writing”. They’re not too far off. Also of note – I went to this camp so long ago, that there’s BARELY anything on the internet about it, except some dude who created a FortuneCity homepage in like ’98 and posted pix of “me and my friends at Mindstretchers camp”. Basically, I went to a nerdy camp at a college, and it explains a lot about me as an adult.

Prior to attending the camp, we had to sign up for three “classes” we would take throughout each day. One academic, one artistic, and one athletic. Here’s what I chose:

Psychology Class

legit got this from the keuka college website under the pyschology dept page. is freud all they teach there?

It was my first taste of what a real college class would be like, and I’m pretty sure it was taught by one of the poor professors who basically just needed extra money. I’m sure he wanted to take the summer off like a normal teacher. I remember this is where I first learned about Freud and the Id and anal personalities and whatnot. Something I carry with me to this day.

Acting Class

this is NOT from Mindstretchers, nor do I know these kids, so yeah, it’s a little creepy I’m using their pic

Honestly, acting class was the highlight of my day, even though we had to do those stupid circle acting exercises and icebreakers. But I was into it. Our class took place in the college’s gym, and there may or may not have been one of those multi-colored parachutes involved. I’m starting to regret not going to an all out theater camp…

Soccer

Let’s be real – I am NOT the athletic type. I was forced to pick a sport and I picked the least offensive one, based purely on the fact that one of my best friends at the time was like a superstar soccer player. First day, I was legit the only one not only without shin guards, but without cleats – I HAD PINK AND GREEN ROO SNEAKERS. So embarrassing. To me, it seemed like all the kids were friggin Bend It Like Beckham and I was Posh Spice trying to keep up. The Worst.

We even had all our meals in a dining hall. For some reason, the walk from the dorm to the dining hall always made me feel like I was an adult – an adult in college, and I felt so cool. To clarify – I was not.

Looking back, my experience at summer camp was actually more of  “traditional college” experience than my actual college one. At Mindstretchers, I took a psychology class where I learned about Freud, as opposed to my real college experience, where I wrote an entire final paper about stereotypes found in MTV’s The Real World. But also, the more I think about it, Mindstretchers maybe was just a giant ploy on behalf of the Keuka College Admissions team, attempting to lure impressionable kids with memories of summer camp in order to go to college there for real when the time came. Ugh, adults. This is all to say that it’s not like I didn’t have a good time at the camp, it was just … a thing I did one time that I never did again. That is if I remembered correctly.

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Weird Summer Camps Parents Send Their Kids To

As part of our summer series, we’re taking you beloved readers to internet camp. Both of us were deprived of going to cool camps (like the space camp Nickelodeon sends you to when you win Double Dare), so we’re making up for it as adults. This week, we’re taking a look at the camps that are a little odd. The ones in which parents are so desperate to give their kids to strangers that they’ll pay any amount of dough to get rid of them for a week or two.

High Explosives Camp

Rolla, Missouri

Explosives Camp is held at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where high school students can get a “hands-on experience” with explosives. The students are of course educated on the proper ways to handle and detonate various explosives, but the big hurrah comes at the end of the camp when they basically get to blow alll the shit up. Campers setup and shot a fireworks display, which includes high explosives, blasting agents, rock blasting and demolition. In case you’re wondering, campers must be at least 16 years old, and a background check is done on all applicants to “ensure good moral character and ethical standing”. AKA no crazypants.

Ninja Camp

New York

According to the Ninja Camp USA website, they are an “Intensive Ninja Fantasy Camp allowing Adults & Kids to experience the life and training of the Great Shinobi (Ninja’s) of Japan.” IDEK what that means, but what I’m taking this as is adults giving kids knives to pretend they’re ninjas. Just so we’re clear.

Camp Rivendell (Fantasy Battle Camp)

Calgary, Canada

Words I am typing for informational purposes but in actuality have no idea what they mean: Camp Rivendell is named after the Elven outpost in middle-earth established and ruled by Elrond Half-elven from J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. Also, it’s a Catholic camp for boys. The purpose, according to the website, is to provide  an “incredibly fun and imaginative setting for boys to learn about virtue and authentic manhood, while also growing in their Catholic faith.” Okay. There’s planned battles, tournaments, jousting, castles, forts, real armor and even an enemy called the “Orc Army”. Basically it’s just one week of LARPing to extremes while practicing the sacraments in their downtime.

Wizards & Warriors Camps

Westford, Massachusetts


Speaking of LARPing, kids can stay in America to participate in this Wizards & Warriors Camp. They’re thrown into “battles” and get to create their own armor, play with (foam) weapons, and make up their own characters. Watching the video above kind of made me sad for the kids who feel like loners at regular school but I’m also glad they found a place where they’re accepted at the camp. But also, this place looks like a shitshow. Everyone is running around willy nilly! How is there any order??

Role-Playing Games at Independent Lake Camp

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

So role-playing games are like really popular these days, huh? Independent Lake Camp is your usual, run of the mill camp, but there are different areas kids can focus on, like theater, sports, or art, but then they also have specialized programs like magic and role-playing. The campers are put into small groups led by a game master and they play Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Magic: the Gathering, etc. For those super smart geniuses, there’s also a “rocketry” program where campers can make their own flying models. Not sure what that has to do with role playing, but it sounds cool.

Plantation Farm Camp

Cazadero, California

Plantation Camp is not as bad as it sounds. Located in the Sonoma County Redwoods, kids live and ‘work’ on a farm, and are completely unplugged. No iPhones, iPads, iPods, iNothing. The campers care for the animals and gardens on the farm and do a total ‘farm to table’ experience every day. Seems like a good idea in theory, but how many of these kids were forced to go to this place by their parents?

Zombie Camp

Burlington, Massachusetts


Zombie Camp is a place were children can go to learn survival skills and how to live in the outdoors. But also learn how to kill zombies with nerf blasters. Just imagine it’s like living in The Walking Dead but Jr. edition. Also, can we just take a minute to shout out the poor souls (read: broke college kids) who have to dress up as these zombies and run around in a field all day? Props.

Equestrian Teen Tour of Russia

Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia

This Equestrian camp isn’t even that weird – it’s just… so specific. Campers can mix their love of horses with their love of classic Russian culture, you know, like most kids between the ages of 7 and 17. Participants ride their horses in the morning and by afternoon, they’re hitting the city for cultural tours of local museums and historic sites.

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Movies And TV Shows For The Camper In You

Summer camp? If you’re over the age of 20 or so, you probably don’t have time or money for that. Besides, if you’re over the age of 20 and have always dreamed of going to camp, the only way to get there is going to have to be by impersonating a kid. [Sounds like a good camp movie, right? I’m adding it to my to-write list; it sounds like an ABC Family-level concept.]

While you may not have two weeks and thousands of dollars to go off to camp, these movies and TV shows can transport you there – if only for a few hours at a time.

Movies

The Parent Trap

The movie: The Parent Trap – Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan versions alike – is tween girl wish-fulfillment, served straight-up. Think about it: realizing you have a secret twin. Living in London with a cool wedding gown designer mom, or in Napa with a fun dad and horses. Divorced parents reconciling. And the big one — spending six weeks at a camp where you’re given free reign to play poker, pull elaborate pranks, pierce your ears and try out a new hairstyle. No, really — where were the counselors?

For would-be campers who: are, or ever were, an 11-year-old girl; or, who want to give 11-year-old Lindsay Lohan a hug, a copy of a 2007-era US Weekly or Star Magazine, and a stern talking-to.

Troop Beverly Hills

The movie: Not technically a camp flick, this 1989  classic follows a group of rich girls trying to become real Girl Scouts.

For would-be campers who: like camping in theory, but realistically would rather have a slumber party in a hotel.

Addams Family Values

The movie: Your typical fish-out-of-water scenario — Pugsley and Wednesday Addams go to camp, finding themselves at odds with “camp culture.” The Harmony Hut scene still cracks me up.

For would-be campers who: will not – nay, can not – sing Kum Ba Ya or participate in group bonding activities.

Wet Hot American Summer

The movie: A counselor-centric comedy, this is a pastiche of 80s teen films and summer romances. Also, Amy Poehler. Paul Rudd. Molly Shannon. Bradley Cooper. AND SO ON.

For would-be campers who: suspect that the counselors are the ones having the real fun.

Camp Nowhere

The movie:  With the exception of Lisa Loeb dancing the Macarena while wearing a slap-bracelet and sporting the Rachel, this is probably the most 90s thing you’ll ever see.  Kids tell their parents they’re going to various fake summer camps, but actually create their own dream camp. It’s sort of a trumped-up version of the TV trope where kids tell their parents they’re staying at eachothers houses in order to go somewhere they shouldn’t.

I think there was also a wacky cop.

For would-be campers who: love summer fun, but hate the man.

Heavyweights

The movie:  A group of kids eat their way through fat camp. Most of them were “90s-fat,” not “HBO documentary series on childhood obesity-fat”.

For would-be campers who: hate-read weight loss articles or obsess over “fitspo” on Pinterest and Tumblr.

Meatballs

The movie: A quintessential camp comedy and a clear inspiration for Wet Hot American Summer. Classic Bill Murray vehicle.

For would-be campers who: approach competitive events with the cry of “it just doesn’t matter!”

Camp

The movie: A teenage Anna Kendrick stars in a musical comedy about teens at theater camp; complete with requisite Gay Theater Boys (TM) and acapella moments that will make you tear up.

For would-be campers who:  are former, or current, drama nerds.

Moonrise Kingdom

The movie: A very sweet, super-Wes Anderson-y tale about two kids (literal kids) in love against the odds.

For would-be campers who: enjoy a bit of visual interest and can maintain a healthy suspension of disbelief.

Indian Summer

The movie: Part of a wave of early 90s camp movies that I never quite realized happened until I was compiling this post, Indian Summer follows a group of adults taking a last-chance stab at the camp experience. I think it wanted to be The Big Chill. It isn’t.

For would-be campers who: Are adults who think camp still sounds like a blast. (If this sounds like you, stay tuned for our post on throwing your own “camp!”)

 

Television

Salute Your Shorts

The show:  An anchor of the early 90s Nickelodeon schedule, Salute Your Shorts had some awesome characters and a theme song that’s probably still stuck in your head.

For would-be campers who: had cable as children.

Hey Dude!

The show: Hey Dude! was nearly interchangeable with Salute Your Shorts – again, the early 90s Camp-Based Entertainment Boom was a real thing — and probably the reason I still long to go to camp as a full-grown adult.

For would-be campers who: are pretty into horses or Southwestern decor.

Bug Juice

The show: Bug Juice was an early incarnation of the reality show and provides a true-to-life look at what camp is really like.

For would-be campers who: are reality TV junkies; watched and can remember Kid Nation.