Romance is a common feature of summer camp both in real life and in the movies and television shows set at camp. But unlike typical sappy love stories, summer camp romances are often complicated by the fleeting time period of the summer, a lake separating the boys and girls camps and a multitude of other obstacles that make the tension-filled build-up par for the course. There are tons of summer camp romances to choose from, but here are 16 I would consider the most memorable.
Tripper and Roxanne in Meatballs
Meatballs in many ways set the groundwork for the many summer camp movies that followed its debut in 1979 so it only makes sense to lead with the original summer camp movie power couple of head counselors Tripper (Bill Murray) and Roxanne (Kate Lynch) who leave Camp North Star on a motorcycle at movie’s end.
Angel and Randy in Little Darlings
Angel (Kristy McNichol) initially just uses Randy (Matt Dillon) to try and win a bet and their relationship doesn’t work out in the end but their connection is unmistakable in the 1980 film Little Darlings. After they sleep together in the boat house and Randy discovers that it was Angel’s first time, he starts to shed his dumb guy macho facade and tells her, “I think I love you,” to which she replies, “You don’t have to.” After Randy finds out she was only with him to win a bet he starts hanging out with one of her friends out of spite but toward the end of the film they meet up again and have one last kiss and intimate conversation that reveals their feelings for each other.
“Let’s give another shot, huh Angel?”
“It’s too late. We started in the middle, we never even had a beginning.”
“We could try. We won’t even have to see each other, just talk or something. Why not?”
“Because it wouldn’t be enough for either of us.”
“I’ll never forget you, ever.”
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Barry and Kimberley in Beaver Falls
While the couple in the show that gets married at camp (Flynn and PJ) might seem to be the more logical choice, the friendship between Kimberley (Natasha Loring) and Barry (John Dagleish) and the will-it-or-won’t-it tension it is one of the most memorable features of the two-season British show set at a California summer camp. Kimberley is way out of Barry’s league but he never lets that stop him from pursuing a relationship that could only dream of becoming a reality at summer camp.
Punky and Jimmy in Punky Brewster
Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) gets kissed for the first time while away at Camp Kookalookie in the “Going to Camp” episode of the ’80s sitcom Punky Brewster. The boy, Jimmy (Randy Josselyn) is from the boys’ camp Camp Scratchinitchy.
Anthony and ‘Ingrid’ in Who’s The Boss
Tony and Angela discover that their first kiss was with each other when they were kids at nearby summer camps in the two-part episode of Who’s the Boss “It Happened One Summer” (Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2).
The discovery comes when Tony, Angela, Mona and Sam go to parents weekend at Camp Catawba, where Jonathan is suffering from homesickness, and they share very similar first kiss stories. To be sure – Tony doesn’t remember the girl’s name and Angela remembered his name as Anthony – they go to visit kissing/makeout rock and find an inscription on the rock that reads Anthony and Ingrid, which initially suggests Tony had kissed someone else. But then it starts to storm and after very nearly kissing in front of the rock they end up at a cheap motel – the Hidden Hollow Motel – where they share the last remaining room (Room 12) and Angela reveals that she had used Ingrid as a nom de plume out of nervousness. Ingrid, she tells Tony, was because she had recently watched Casablanca three times.
Awkward hilarity and high-stakes sexual tension ensues at the Hidden Hollow as they spend the evening in the roach motel with little by way of dry clothing, softcore on the television and the realization that the recent kiss in Angela’s kitchen they had thought was their first was actually their second.
Mindy and Sam in The Mindy Project
Seth Rogen guest starred on an episode called “The One That Got Away” of The Mindy Project last season playing her crush from her days at summer camp. Thankfully, they don’t just talk about their summer camp romance, their are flashback scenes of them as awkward, falling-in-love teenagers, too.
Frank and the Girl of Grady Lake in A Pig’s Tale
Frank (Mike Damus) is the smart aleck ladies man of the Pigs bunk at Kamp Kipper man in the 1996 movie A Pig’s Tale. He’s from Brooklyn, as evidence by him wearing Brooklyn Dodgers gear throughout the movie and is just brazen enough to aim high in his womanizing. “You boys can swim with the minnows, Sir Frankie is going after the big one, the girl of Grady Lake,” Frank tells his friends before paddling off in his canoe to try and find the woman of his dreams, who camp legend has it lives in the lake. Just when he’s about to give up, the girl (played by Poppi Monroe) mysteriously rises up out of the water and his courtship of the illusive girl begins. Getting close to the girl proves difficult but Frank’s hard work pays off in the end when he gets a kiss.
Elise and Eli in Camp Takota
In the 2014 movie Camp Takota, popular YouTuber Grace Helbig’s character Elise ends up back at her camp as a camp counselor after getting fired from her job and catching her fiance with another woman. She’s not thrilled to be back at first but when she meets a local farmer named Eli who has his own trust issues things start to turn around for her. Their blossoming friendship – and the possibility of it being more – is one of the reasons Camp Takota is such a winner.
Kronk and Miss Birdwell in Kronk’s New Groove
In the straight-to-video sequel to The Emperor’s New Groove, Kronk becomes a camp counselor of the Junior Chipmunks at Camp Chippamunka, where he falls in love with fellow counselor Miss Birdwell, but things go sour when one of his campers sabotages the camp championship and he protects the camper, sending Kronk on a quest to win back Miss Birdwell’s love.
Marge and Homer in The Simpsons
While talking about their first kisses, Homer reveals to Marge that she was his second kiss and that his first kiss happened one summer when he was 10 at summer camp. Homer went to Camp See-A-Tree, where he was forced to work in the kitchen at the camp across the lake called Camp Land-A-Man. There, he meets a young Marge and they have a romantic encounter later that night. Because he overhears Marge’s friends making fun of the name Homer, he tells her his name is Elvis Jagger Abdul-Jabbar and a mishap with an iron leads Marge to become a brunette for the evening. After sharing a romantic evening, their romance is cut short when Homer falls off a cliff and ends up at Camp Flab-Away, unable to make it back to meet Marge for a subsequent date.
Fetus and Sundae in Summerhood
Fetus is a “prematurely thoughtful” 9-year-old who pursues the older and taller Sundae at camp in the movie Summerhood. Like a lot of romances at that age, there are some hits and misses but ultimately they share a moment at the end of the movie. After telling Sundae she is how he measures happiness, he’s rejected at first when he tells her he is going to kiss her because as it turns out she wants it to be her moment. “I’m only nine. You make me feel ten,” Fetus tells her.
Dennis and Rhonda in Poison Ivy
Dennis Baxter (Michael J. Fox) is a smooth-talking womanizer when he arrives at Camp Pinewood in the 1985 TV movie Poison Ivy but when he lays eyes on Rhonda (Nancy McKeon) he changes his ways and spends the summer trying to woo over the engaged camp nurse. Though mostly successful in his attempts to win over her heart the fact that she is engaged keeps her just enough out of reach to add tension, mystery and intrigue to their budding romance.
McKinley and Ben in Wet Hot American Summer
Sparks fly between McKinley Dozen (Michael Ian Black) and the drama counselor Ben (Bradley Cooper) in the 2001 movie Wet Hot American Summer, one of the only same-sex couples you’ll find in a mainstream summer camp movie.
Donald and Wendy in Happy Campers
Justin Long plays a nerdy bumbling counselor named Donald in the 2001 movie Happy Campers and through much of the movie he is stuck in the friend zone with his camp crush Wendy (Dominique Swain) until the magical last day of camp when it comes to say their farewells.
Roger and Ava in Camp Cucamonga
Like many a good camp romance, Ava (Jennifer Aniston) wants nothing to do with Roger (Brian Robbins) in the 1990 TV movie Camp Cucamonga. Her dad, the camp director, is even less thrilled with the idea but slowly Roger changes Ava’s mind about him and cleans up his act enough to make even her father realize he may have misjudged him. There are several other romances in the movie involving well-known television actors of the time but Jennifer Aniston trumps them all.
Rocky and Diana in Mask
Summer camp romances so well in movies and television because they are whirlwind love affairs that often can be built up for an entire length of a movie only to end with one last sappy goodbye as they both face the reality of how fleeting their love – and their youth – really is. In Mask, there is the added heartache of rejection by Diana’s parents when they see the deformed Rocky that their daughter meets at a camp for the blind. Diana (Laura Dern) is able to see what so many are unable to see past Rocky Dennis’ (Eric Stoltz) facial deformities, a genuine and kind-hearted romantic but unfortunately her parents can’t get past what they are able to see with their own eyes.