Review: Bunk’d ‘Smells Like Camp Spirit’

After implementing camp founder Jedediah Swearengen’s original camp rules in the last episode, a stick the fur trader and summer camp enthusiast whittled is the center of the plot in the “Smells Like Camp Spirit” episode of Bunk’d (Season 1, Episode 4).

According to camp tradition, the person who ends up with the stick when it’s thrown up in the air gets to be the Spirit Stick Guardian. Emma isn’t even paying attention when the stick gets thrown up but becomes the guardian when the stick lands on her back.

Knowing that Xander really wanted the Spirit Stick, Emma decides to give it to him not knowing that another part of the tradition is that if the guardian loses the stick it brings back luck.

“Giving the stick away means you failed as guardian,” Lou says. “Now all of Woodchuck cabin is going to be knee deep in bad luck.”


Almost immediately, Zuri discovers a huge zit on her nose and Emma gets knocked over by a camper carrying a boogie board. When bad things continue to happen to Emma, Zuri and Lou, they try to get the Spirit Stick back from Xander. But when it goes missing from Xander’s cabin, the bad luck starts to spread throughout the camp. According to legend, the last time the Spirit Stick was lost, back in 1958, poison ivy got into the food and campers “had to eat sand paper to scratch their insides.”

While his siblings try to find the stick, Ravi frets over preparations for the swim test and injures two campers when he accidentally dives into a canoe instead of the lake to practice saving Jorge. The storylines come together at the lake when Ravi has to overcome his fear of swimming to save the camp from the Spirit Stick curse.

As camp legends go, the Spirit Stick is not really that interesting so building an entire episode around it seemed a stretch almost from the start, but it was nice to see Hazel and her creepy crush on Xander back in the fold after a couple episodes on the sidelines.

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-The Woodchuck and Grizzly cabins have an interesting staff to camper ratio. The Grizzly cabin has a counselor, CIT and Jorge the camper while the Woodchuck cabin has a counselor, CIT and campers Tiffany and Zuri. Is Jorge that much to handle that he needs two staff members?

-Speaking of Jorge; he wears a shirt that says Awesome in this episode, which is appropriate because he’s pretty awesome.

-Emma offers to buy Xander season tickets “or a team” to get the spirit stick back from him. I get that the Ross family is loaded, but how does Emma have so much money at her disposal?

-One of the items Lou offers in a sacrifice to the gods is a Hungry-Gal TV dinner. Emma gives an old pair of shoes, Zuri her favorite stack of cash and Hazel a doll she made out of Xander’s hair.

-The gooey paint Emma gets all over her reminded me of the green slime from one of my favorite shows as a kid – You Can’t Do That On Television.

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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