A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Camp Lakebottom is set in a summer camp where monsters are in charge and there are few codes of conduct governing the campers, so there's little reality to be had in the stories. Kids will see campers pulling pranks on each other (itching powder, mud attacks, etc.), even among friends, and seeking out potentially worrisome adventures, all without consequences. Expect some surprises that might frighten very young kids, lots of bathroom humor, and cartoon violence in the forms of crashes, electrocution, and peltings from guns that shoot balls, toilet paper, and other unorthodox ammunition. Name-calling ("pea brain," "loser") is common, as are references to a character named "Buttsquat."
What's the story?
For most kids, a bus detour en route to summer camp would be a devastating turn of events, but for 12-year-old McGee (voiced by Scott McCord), it turns out to be a strike of great fortune. Instead of living the privileged life at Camp Sunny Smiles, mischievous McGee finds himself at Camp Lakebottom, a run-down resort staffed by monsters and host to a lot of spooky goings-on. With his friends Gretchen (Melissa Altro) and Squirt (Darren Frost), McGee wiles away his days fending off brain-sucking sea monsters and dodging volcanoes; that is, when they're not pulling pranks on the residents of the neighboring Camp Sunny Smiles, including his sister, Suzi (Bryn McCauley), and her buddy Buttsquat (Carter Hayden).
Is it any good?
Zombies and Sasquatch for counselors? Escalating pranks between campers? No required activities and even fewer rules? Camp Lakebottom is little more than an adventurous kid's dream vacation spot, where stinky underwear comes to life and sea monsters lurk in the lake. Of course, the next best thing to being there is watching the mayhem unfold in this fast-paced series that makes health code violations and safety oversights all kinds of funny.
Given that the show gives a mostly false impression of summer camp life, it's fairly obvious that your kids should be old enough to understand what's contrived about the story. Happily, though, this age group should also be able to pick up on the subtle messages in some of the monsters' surprisingly sweet personalities, which are good reminders against judging books (and people) by their covers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about practical jokes and pranks. Have you ever pulled one on someone? Did he or she think it was funny? What determines the line between a prank and something potentially more hurtful?
Why are the characters at odds with each other? Do they know? Is it hard to fix a contentious relationship? Why is it important to forgive and forget?
Parents can separate fact from fiction regarding summer camp for their kids and perhaps share some of their own camp experiences from childhood. Kids: Does the idea of summer camp seem appealing to you? What types of activities do you think you would enjoy?
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