Camp Cool Kids

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Camp Cool Kids Movie Poster Image
Faith-based summer camp tale deals with bullying.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Focuses on overcoming fears, having faith both in God and in oneself, and standing up against bullies in productive ways. Religious messages throughout. Set in a Christian summer camp, kids say grace, are taught about Jesus, hear Christian precepts as well as biblical references.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young lead learns about standing up for himself, facing his fears, helping others, and dealing with bullies appropriately. Older teen learns lessons about responsibility, being a good brother, the shallowness of "popularity," and standing up for others. Solid parental models, including a wise, loving grandfather. Ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

Some bullying (taunting, intimidation, and pranks). 

Sexy Stuff
Language

Name-calling: "loser," "spaz," "chicken," "little bug." Kids engage in gross pranks, including use of strong laxative, which results in immediate stomach disturbances and accompanying sounds.

Consumerism

At center of film is Camp Istrouma, a Christian camp outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two Men & A Truck Moving Company, Splat, Pelican boats.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Camp Cool Kids is a story that is set in a real-life, functioning Louisiana Christian camp. It's about confronting fear, coping with bullies, and confirming religious principles. The two central boys, one teen and one tween, are still grieving for their recently deceased dad and struggling with a move to a new community when they're sent to Camp Istrouma for a two-week summer session. While the issues are serious ones, the treatment of them is upbeat and straightforward, and relies on humor as well as pathos. The bullying includes insults, intimidation, and some nasty pranks -- including one in which kids endure the always-good-for-a-laugh stomach catastrophes. Fine for middle grades and tweens as a simple, religious, and moralizing tale with obvious outcomes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byaileencita February 4, 2018

Not-so-subtle Christian undertone, seriously lacking in diversity, poor gender roles

Biblical quotes left and right. Camp Istrouma (We glorify God by making disciples of all nations), constantly praying and talking about Jesus and quoting new te... Continue reading
Adult Written byHana D. January 27, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written byI'm a coconut February 16, 2018

####### awful

Worst non animated movie ever made in my opinion. There are no parts that make you laugh, cry, smile, or even make you interested in any of the parts of the mov... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old February 4, 2018

It's really not that good

It was a little inappropriate because there were people disrespecting people's boundaries and it was really weird. And I just think it's not that good... Continue reading

What's the story?

Young Spence (Connor Rosen) and his older brother, Zach (Logan Shroyer), have had a rough go when CAMP COOL KIDS begins. Following the death of their beloved dad, they've moved with their mom to their grandfather's house. Grandpa (the always reliable Michael Gross) is a wise, loving mentor to his grandsons, especially Spencer, who's timid and fearful and feels very much alone in his new Louisiana community. But summer camp is coming, and the grown-ups think two weeks at Camp Istrouma, a well-respected Christian overnight camp, will be just the place for the boys to meet new friends and have some fun. Spence isn't so sure. And at first, he's right. Dean, the king of the camp bullies, is delighted to have a new skittish boy to intimidate. Saving the first day for Spence is finding cabin mates -- The Armadillos -- who are inclusive and warm-hearted. Unfortunately, Zach, asked by his concerned mom to look out for his little brother, doesn't initially see Dean as a villain and enthusiastically joins the bully's clan. Despite assurances of a sensitive counselor, Spence's worries escalate when camp activities frighten him, and Dean and company come up with increasingly embarrassing pranks. As the central event of their two-week sojourn, the Camp Istrouma Games, gets closer, Spencer and his buddies must endure the bullies' antics, fend them off, and find a way to assert their own specialness. 

Is it any good?

As summer camp movies go, this one is colorful and spirited and has some quirkily fun performances that will appeal to kids, especially those who enjoy happy endings that rely on faith. Watching red-haired, freckled Connor Rosen's sweet, thoughtful performance (though sometimes so soft-spoken it's difficult to hear) is a treat. Other young actors, most notably Tyree Brown, who was so good in the Parenthood series, bring natural joyfulness to their roles. Louisiana's well-established Camp Istrouma is a beautiful, camera-ready place, and director Lisa Arnold makes the most of its lushness. It's doubtful, however, that their real-life camp activities are as unstructured, or that the bullying that takes place would go unnoticed and/or unpunished. Camp Cool Kids is a crisp, competent production; still, don't expect surprises or original emotional insights. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the bullies in Camp Cool Kids. Why is important not to "become a jerk just because someone is being a jerk to you"? How does your family, school, and/or community deal with bullying?

  • How does the movie emphasize important character strengths and skills like empathy, courage, teamwork, and communication?

  • What is the meaning of the declaration "Don't make them like you -- let them like you!"? Give an example of how this might work.

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love camp tales

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