Dad Camp TV Poster Image

Dad Camp

Father training offers more reality show than reality check.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series attempts to show how important it is to step up and be a good father, and how hard it is to do so. But these messages are mixed in with reality show drama.

Positive role models

The young men are irresponsible, selfish, and disrespectful, but some seem to change over time. Many of the fathers-to-be spend money on cars, electronics, and video games rather than saving money, and or spending it on the baby’s needs. Many of their partners have self-esteem issues. Most of the parents-to-be are in their early 20s; they are all unmarried; and they come from various class, racial/ethnic, and social backgrounds.

Violence

Contains scenes of arguing, yelling, and screaming. One cast member has had problems with the law.

Sex

At least one cast member watches online porn. Contains scenes of women giving birth. Sonograms and gynecological instruments, etc. are sometimes visible. The pregnant women are unmarried. The young men are sometimes shown flirting with other women.

Language

Words like “s--t” and “f--k” are bleeped. Words like “chick” and “your women” are used to refer to the pregnant women.

Consumerism

Xboxes and other brands are sometimes discussed and/or visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The expecting fathers like to go out to drink (beer, hard liquor), smoke cigarettes, and use pot to get high. Marijuana is visible. Some of them have serious addiction problems.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which features young men participating in a month-long therapeutic program designed to convince them to be good fathers to their unborn children -- offers some positive messages about fatherhood, but also contains lots of inappropriate behavior that has become typical of reality entertainment. Moms- and dads-to-be have screaming arguments and use strong language (words like “s--t” and “f--k” are bleeped). Drinking (hard liquor, beer) plus cigarette and pot smoking is visible (marijuana is visible in at least one episode). Some of the men also appear to have addiction problems.

Kids say

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What's the story?

DAD CAMP is a reality show that features six young dads-to-be being getting a reality check about fatherhood. The irresponsible and selfish twentysomethings join the mothers of their children in a 30-day program run by psychologist Jeff Gardere. While there they must willingly participate in exercises designed to help them understand what it is like to be pregnant, as well as the skills and commitment necessary to raise a child. Group meetings and couples therapy are also part of the experience. At the end of the program, each of the mothers-to-be must decide if their baby’s father is truly committed to them and their child, and make a final decision about whether or not they will be raising the child on their own.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The series attempts to address the issue of single parenthood by trying to convince young men that being a responsible parent is the right thing to do. While it underscores the financial and emotional obligations that come with the job, it also tries to highlight the rewards that come with being a good parent. It also explores some of the reasons why young fathers are usually unprepared, and often unwilling, to share the responsibility of raising a child.

These messages are good ones, but they often get lost as the show serves up lots of screaming, fighting, drinking, and womanizing, and other activities that have become a standard part of reality entertainment. The show also fails to address that many of the mothers featured here, most of whom appear to have major self-esteem issues, are also unprepared for parenthood. In the end, what this series is really offering is a voyeuristic experience that some may find interesting, but that fails to provide any kind of real answer to what has become a major problem in American society.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fatherhood. How does this show portray "good" and "bad" fatherhood? What do you think it takes to be a good father? Why is there such a large number of absentee fathers in America today? Do you think the media contributes to this problem? If so, how? Do you think discussing these issues on a reality show is helpful and/or appropriate? Why or why not?

  • Parents: What are some of the ways that families can help young people avoid becoming parents before they are ready? Can talking to kids about premarital sex help? What about  limiting kids’ exposure to certain kids of media?  Kids: what are some other issues that you can talk about with your parents to help you make future decisions about these and other important issues?

TV details

Premiere date:May 31, 2010
Cast:Jeff Gardere
Network:VH1
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byLearning to Grow July 22, 2010

Dad Camp is the Best

I am 50+ and my daughter is 25. We love the show and cannot wait to see the next week. I think that males are not aware of what they helped create and need a touch of reality. I think that maybe more information on safe sex would be helpful for the younger viewers. I love Dr. Jeff and his participation projects for the males. I would like to know the outcomes after the couples leave. I would like to see baby pictures and hope that both mother and father can be always be a part of the child's life even if as a couple they do stay together.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models