It takes less than three minutes into the pilot to get an explanation for why Nickelodeon’s early ’90s summer camp series was called Salute Your Shorts.
Michael Stein (Eric MacArthur), a new camper, arrives at camp and after being warned by Sponge Harris (Trevor Eyster) promptly gets his bag stolen by the Camp Anawanna bullies Bobby Budnick (Danny Cooksey) and Eddie ‘Donkey Lips’ Gelfen (Michael Bower). Moments later Michael’s boxer shorts are flapping on the flag pole and Sponge directs him to salute his shorts.
The scene then cuts to the oh so catchy theme song, which is probably the cultural artifact that has best survived the 25 years since it made its debut on June 1, 1991. “Camp Anawanna we hold you in our hearts…”
When Michael arrives at his bunk, his initiation continues when he’s given a bed with a huge wet spot on it (a raccoon suffered but didn’t die there) that falls apart when he lays on it. Seeing another one of their pranks work, Budnick and Donkey Lips bust out their catch phrase, “roasted, toasted and burnt to a crisp.”
After a quick introduction to the main female characters, Telly Radford (Venus DeMilo), Dina Alexander (Heidi Lucas) and Z.Z. Ziff (Megan Berwick) the campers all go to the baseball field where counselor Kevin Lee (Kirk Bailey) is holding court. Shortly after introducing himself, Donkey Lips shows that no one escapes his wrath when he starts a chant of “Ug Lee! Ug Lee! Ug Lee!”
Michael and Budnick end up getting into a fight during the baseball game and their punishment is to stand with their arms out holding buckets. Once served, Michael runs into the girls who are full of questions (Where are you from? Springfield. What’s your favorite band? Bon Jovi, etc.) and quickly makes Budnick and Donkey Lips jealous.
To get Michael, the duo tell him about the Secret Society and the forced initiation, which involves raiding the girls’ cabin and bringing back souvenirs and video footage. Tipped off to the raid, the girls set up booby traps that end up getting Ug and the girls instead of their intended target. While Ug is being covered with feathers, Sponge and Michael escape back to their bunk but they discover that Telly’s glasses, which Michael took, have been broken.
To cover it up, Budnick sets up another camper who they attack in the dining hall at breakfast after discovering all of the missing items, Telly’s broken glasses included, in his bag. Just as they are about to punish the unnamed camper with an Awful Waffle though, Michael speaks up and confesses that he was the one who took and accidentally broke the glasses. Unhappy with him breaking rank, Budnick only offers Sponge a place in the Secret Society. Sponge though isn’t having it, bravely turning on Budnick with a bottle of ketchup that he uses to redesign his t-shirt.
- Dina Alexander once had Norwegian salmon “all the way from Norwege” with Janet Jackson
- Dr. Kahn “There’s no need to run to breakfast; I’ve already taken the prizes out of all of the cereal.”
- The Awful Waffle is never shown, only whispered about, but it involves holding someone down on a table, a tennis racket and some syrup.