Camp Hell Based On True Events?

We’ve been getting a lot of hits on this website lately from people searching the web for information about whether the movie Camp Hell (aka Camp Hope) is really based on true events. I was curious myself after seeing the claim in the trailer for the film, which was released on DVD earlier this month.

Here is how director George VanBuskirk explains the events that inspired the film in an interview on Big Daddy Horror Reviews:

Camp Hell is based on true events from my childhood. Kind of sad when you make something autobiographical and it is a horror film. My family joined this crazy, intense Catholic community in NJ called the People of Hope, there were over 2,000 people in this group. Girls had to wear skirts, men pants all the time, no rock music, no “youth culture”, you get the drift. Every year they would send all the kids to camp for two weeks in the middle of nowhere. It was called Camp Hope. So, you put guys and girls together with raging hormones and tell them that if you even masturbate you will go to hell and be tortured by demons for all eternity, that the devil is constantly attacking us and he is at the camp trying to block God’s love. Pretty soon you are going to start to believe that every little bump is a demon ready to rip out your heart for thinking some impure thoughts about the girl playing softball a few feet away. I saw some crazy shit happen during my years at that camp, stuff that all seemed very supernatural and very much demonic at the time. Things that make you want to run out of the place screaming. So, I put these events together into a narrative and now we have Camp Hell.

Read the full interview HERE.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.


  1. Dont know why i liked this movie but like it even more after that explanation. Damn right your mind would play some tricks on you in that environment at that age. young people can be really brainwashed with non-sense like that. And the whole jessie eisenberg thing was just odd.

  2. I would like to say that yeah whatever that happened to you it was creepy. But many of the stuff that you showed in the movie are wrong like when the father told you that only by confession your sins will go away and that is a big lie cuz to the only you have to ask for forgiveness is Jesus….im Christian but I believed in the saint trinity and there is a lot to say about Catholics. I would answer any question about anything that has to do with religion.

  3. I was a member of the people of hope for twelve years, until we lefted even through these events happen before I step foot in Camp Hope my older brother was around to see everything that happen there. I watch some of the movie I don’t like horror movies, but I did remember how everything was strict there and some of the strange cult behaved that went on, next time you should do a movie on th e cult it’s self that would b more of a horror movie then this one!

  4. I was a member of the people of hope in the 80s as a child. I went to camp hope for 3 years and I would cry to leave. They were very strict and if you were unique in any way you were forced to conform. I remember being forced to eat eggs till I threw up. I had to “dance” for the lord. There was rarely fun activities that were not church driven.

    I wished the movie was based more on actual events because it would have been scarier.

  5. Myself and my family used to belong to a Christian church similar to this. There were, and still are, good people who are good Christian people who live the values of Jesus. However, with that being said, the pastor and his wife were very focused on sexual immorality. The pastor let the true evil creep in to that church. I am talking about greed, power, and a sense of self importance. We left because they had their “special group” and the other people. The incident that made me say “we’re out of here” was my late wife had a baby shower for a friend, whose family had left the church recently, and she didn’t know that the pastors wife offered to throw one first. The pastor’s wife was politely refused the honor of throwing the baby shower. My wife called after, not knowing any of this, and asked if she could. The person said yes and the baby shower happened. The pastor’s wife ordered people not to attend it. I guess we didn’t get that memo. On a Sunday morning shortly thereafter the pastor’s wife calls up and rips my wife a new one. She was devastated. That’s when I knew it was time to leave.

  6. I can’t speak of the full movie yet, trailer looks really interesting!
    Just the mention of the People of Hope & Camp Hope strikes a fear in me that no film has yet captured.
    As stated above nothing compared their with real methods for breaking a strong willed little girl. Eventually, free, broken…
    Only a lifetime later, I purchase a house a few miles away from the Camp, wondering why is the area is so familiar… duh

  7. So, did you really decide to stop believing in Christ like the main character did in the movie? I felt it was such a letdown. I mean, here he is, fighting for his very soul, and when he finally uses pure faith, he wakes up in a hospital and proceeds to tell his mom he wants no part of the religion. I guess I’m stumped or maybe I didn’t understand. All people sin and some people that are in church can be evil or mean or whatever, but that doesn’t reflect on God – he didn’t twist their arm and make them do those things – they chose to do those things on their own. Why generalize and say it’s his fault when it’s not?

  8. 1. I can’t believe parents would allow their children to go to a camp like that. Crap parenting.
    2. Movies are meant to make people hate religion, its how they psychologically control you. They make religion seem like a cult so people stray from God and then they end the movie like that so people think oh hey I dont like God now.
    Stop being slaves and stop making wrong choices

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