Camp Harlow

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
Camp Harlow Movie Poster Image
Preachy religious drama has bullying, some mature themes.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Without teamwork, you can’t live up to your own potential. If you put your focus on God, all your fears and worries will fade away. Being mean to others ultimately makes you feel bad about yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex is an extremely mean girl who cruelly bullies other kids, steals, and is rude and nasty to everyone around her. But she learns the importance of being kind to others through becoming a Christian.




It's implied that Alex's dad is having an affair with his secretary -- he's shown touching her hand, and he pays for Alex's camp so she'll keep "his little secret." Alex and Eric hold hands.


Lots of mean-girl talk and insults such as "loser," "freak," "pig," and "you suck." Also "shut up."


Camp Harlow is a real camp that's run by the First Baptist Church of Eugene, which is featured in the movie. iPods are featured multiple times. The concept of writing a "PostSecret" is mentioned without credit to the real PostSecret website.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Camp Harlow is a faith-based film about a teen girl overcoming her bullying past by becoming a Christian. This movie features the real summer camp Camp Harlow and the First Baptist Church of Eugene, which runs the camp. The main character shoplifts, and lots of bullying and mean-girl behavior is shown, including name-calling ("loser," "freak," "fat pig") and tossing a girl's iPod into the toilet. But ultimately the main character learns the errors of her ways by becoming a Christian. Adult infidelity, divorce, and adoption are also themes, which may not be appropriate for young tweens. Non-Christian families may also be put off by the main theme, which is the road to finding and nurturing a belief in Christ.

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What's the story?

After hearing her parents fight with each other for years, Alex (AJ Olson) lashes out by leading a group of mean girls who torment other kids at school, shoplift, and treat each other badly. When the school year ends, she jumps at the invite to go to summer camp with her crush, Eric (Andrew Dyer), and escape her strained home life. But the worldly Alex is shocked to find that Camp Harlow is actually a Christian camp, and she rebuffs Eric and her counselor Sam's (Monique Hurd) attempts to draw her into camp activities. But as Sam slowly chips away at Alex's hard exterior and the horse Gracie tempts her to soften up, Alex begins to slowly accept the Christian faith. But when she returns home, will she be able to hold onto it?

Is it any good?

Non-Christian viewers will probably find it hard to relate to this very faith-based, preachy drama. CAMP HARLOW is almost exclusively about learning about becoming a Christian and nurturing your growing faith, though there are also some universal messages about treating others nicely and the importance of teamwork. And viewers hoping for horses (implied by the cover) will be disappointed that Gracie the horse plays a very minor role in Alex's transformation.

Christian tweens and young teens may find the themes more engaging, and there's a lot of contemporary Christian music that may be appealing, but they might also be disappointed in the mediocre acting and obvious plot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Alex's behavior. Why was she a bully? What caused her to lash out at everyone around her?

  • Have you been bullied at school, or have you seen other kids be bullied? What can you do if you or someone you know is being bullied?

  • Do you think this film would be enjoyable to non-Christians? Why, or why not?

  • Do you like movies about camp? Why do you think there are so many movies about summer camp?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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