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Camp (DVD) Review

 
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Camp_DVD

 
At A Glance...
 

Genre:
 
Director:
 
Age Rating:
 
Actor: , , , ,
 
Length: 110 minutes
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
3/ 5


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


An inspiring film that doesn't sugarcoat the issues kids in foster care face.

Not so much?


Somewhat predictable at times, with a few distracting discrepancies.


Final Fiendish Findings?

Camp is the story of how a badly abused foster child and a self centered financial advisor struggle to find common ground. Based on a real life camp for foster children, it is a story that is in turns heartbreaking and heartwarming. While it can come across as a bit too predictable at times (particularly in regards to Ken’s character), it is a story that really gets you thinking.

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Posted September 3, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings?
 
 

Not all kids have a childhood worth writing home about.4664_Camp_DVD_lg

Camp is not a true story, but it is an amalgam of many true stories that have been blended into one easily digested tale of a boy who had nothing going for him. Camp is inspired by Royal Family KIDS, a camp that serves troubled kids in foster care. There, kids who have had heartbreaking childhoods can leave their troubles behind for one week of pure fun. Of course, troubles like that are not so easily discarded. It takes skilled and caring counselors to help these kids see that there is good in the world, and that it is okay to just enjoy yourself and be a kid, if only for a little while. Camp is a life changing experience, for kids and counselors alike, and this film tries to capture the experience with Eli’s story.

Eli, raised by a neglectful mother and an abusive alcoholic father, has hardly had the type of childhood that would prepare him for a well balanced life. After losing his mother to a heroin overdose, things can hardly seem worse for poor Eli, and he naturally begins to strike out at those around him. Eli, like many kids in those types of situations, is not easy to love – and that is precisely why he needs it so badly. The right counselor could really help him turn things around  – unfortunately, he’s stuck with Ken.

Ken is your stereotypical yuppie. He’s a financial advisor in hot pursuit of the next big deal – and if he has to fake it at camp for week to gain the trust of the camp’s benefactor, he’s willing to take one for the team. What he isn’t willing to do is to put out any more effort than is strictly necessary – and he has no idea what he’s getting into. While Tammy, the camp’s attractive young director, struggles to get him to put down his cell phone and pay attention to what really matters, Ken makes snide comments and antagonizes both Eli and his fellow counselors. Nothing short of a miracle could bring Ken and Eli to a place of understanding and love.

At this point, I can guess what you’re thinking: a predictable story – Ken and Tammy fall in love, Eli and Ken make brofists after the first day, and everyone lives happily ever after. I felt like I could see this one coming from a mile away – but while it is predictable at times, Camp does not play out as you’d expect it to. For one thing, it really doesn’t sugarcoat things like many films about difficult topics do. Eli has a really rough life, and he has the scars and the attitude to prove it. And Ken just doesn’t get him. Sadly, its a tale too often told – so many fail to look beneath the surface, and kids like Eli fall between the cracks every day. While Camp is the story of Eli finally finding something good in life, it is also Ken’s story of learning tolerance and love for Eli.

There were a few things in the Camp that bothered me – minor things, really, but they stuck out as things that should have been caught in production. Eli’s mother, for instance, is described as dying from a “heroine overdose”, and early on in the film Ken tucks his cell phone into his pocket and then jumps in the pool – only to later pull out his phone and check his messages. The latter was particularly distracting, as the setup leading up to it led you to believe this was how the film would get him to set down his phone and engage.

The most inspiring part of Camp is the realization that this is a real thing. While all of the characters are fictional, each of them, adults and counselors alike, are based on real people who have attended the Royal Family KIDS camp. At the end of the film, counselors describe their experiences with the kids that inspired many portions of the story, and it is truly heartbreaking. In the special features, one such kid tells her story of an abusive childhood, her time at the camp, her subsequent adoption by her counselor, and her hope to return to camp as a counselor herself. Knowing about the real kids behind the story really tugs at the heartstrings, and makes the story behind Camp all that much more real.

Camp is the story of how a badly abused foster child and a self centered financial advisor struggle to find common ground. Based on a real life camp for foster children, it is a story that is in turns heartbreaking and heartwarming. While it can come across as a bit too predictable at times (particularly in regards to Ken’s character), it is a story that really gets you thinking.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)