Cult filmmaker John Waters’ career began at summer camp

Cult filmmaker John Waters credits his time at summer camp for giving him the confidence to pursue a career that has made him quite successful.

Waters attended camp in the ’50s at the now defunct Camp Happy Hollows on Lake Montecello in Baltimore, Md.

He talked about his experiences at camp in a recent Canadian Press article:

“I wrote a story there called ‘Reunion’ that I read every week to the campers, a horror story, a serial,” he recalled. “At the end there was this hideous gory thing and then all the kids had nightmares and their parents called the camp and complained — and I’m still doing that! It was the beginning of my career.”

Waters talked at length about a specific time at camp when he experienced something supernatural in the Biography channel series Celebrity Ghost Stories (Season 1, Episode 3).

“It was a wonderful lesson for me as a 10-year-old kid that I think helped me become whatever I am today,” he said in the show. “It gave me the confidence to go ahead, to believe in things, to believe in behavior I couldn’t understand, to be drawn to subject matter I couldn’t understand.”

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.

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