Camp (I) (2013)
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I found myself smiling through the first 1:30 minutes of the film, not because the film is always happy, but because it's REAL. Through my own experience with adopted kids and my conversations with other mom's, every bit of this film is honest, yet filled with hope. Though the first 5 minutes of the film deal with Eli's dark family situation, the rest of the film layers on the joy and hope that the camp counselors are determined to pour into the kids during the short week at camp.
Hollywood loves to entertain us. But Camp does more than entertain – it inspires. It beautifully illustrates the huge impact the small sacrifice of a weeks time can make in the life of a child in foster care.
I hope this movie inspires thousands of adults to realize what a big difference they can make by just giving up one week of their summer to spend at CAMP.
It's sad to know that there are kids out there that actually have life this rough, but knowing that there are people out there that are working to help these kids experience at least a week of joy is good to know.
This was a great movie, although the religious theme does come across as a bit much at points, but it doesn't detract from an otherwise good film.
If you're in the mood for a heartfelt drama with some light comedy and a lot of heart, go see this film. Definitely picking this up on DVD.
If I had to sum up this movie in one sentence it would be this:
REAL HEARTS having experienced REAL PAIN needing REAL HOPE.
CAMP is an one week outreach to children living in the foster care system. The goal is to just embrace these kids and help them to have a good week - experience a small reprieve and normalcy. Each camper is paired with a camp counselor. None of the matches are by mistake.
In the first moments of the movie you realize this is no feel-good movie. The writers have given voice to some amazing kids wading through unimaginable realities. They come from a broad range of homes where parents were imprisoned, enslaved to addictions, and children neglected. But they're REAL KIDS. They are in need of someone to CARE.
You will be exposed to tiny glimpses into the hard realities that many kids in foster care face. You NEED to see. This is REALITY for thousands of kids growing up in our communities. I was reminded that these kids are worth all the obstacles it takes to care for them. It made me feel even stronger in our conviction to SAY YES and step up to foster.
By about half way through the movie I wanted to give Ken, one of the counselors, a good 'ole shake up. He comes across as an absolute jerk. About the time I could hardly take any more of his cellphone obsession and lack of compassion for his camper, Eli .... I realized that in reality my heart was being just as hard. There were reasons he responded the way he did. His demeanor was just a thick callous attempting to cover his own deep pain. Eventually this special duo learned more about each others lives and both were forever changed. Ken truly learned what it meant to CARE. Eli got to experience what it's like to be cared for.
One of my favorite parts of the movie was hearing testimonies of two of the counselors and why they were there ... because a long time ago someone stepped up to CARE for them.
Find out where CAMP is coming! If it's in your area - GO SEE IT. You'll be changed for the good and inspired to step out of your comfort zone and CARE.
Remember - this isn't just a movie. The stories represented are REAL.
It's about REAL HEARTS having experienced REAL PAIN needing REAL HOPE.
We can be part of sharing that REAL HOPE. It's just a question if we'll CARE enough to do so.
Three words I would use to describe the movie Camp!
I had the opportunity to screen the movie Camp and was asked to review it. I promise you if you watch Camp a few things will happen.
You will laugh
You will cry
You will be moved
You will be motivated
You will want to help a child in need
It is very possible you will never be the same!
Camp is inspired by real stories and events. Camp shares the story of Eli a child who has been badly abused and is in foster care. His father is incarcerated and his mother is dead. Eli attends a camp for foster kids for one week. He is matched with Ken, a camp counselor, who is more focused on his fancy car and career than he is on helping kids. As the movie unfolds we get to see how a week at camp can change both of their lives forever.
What I appreciated most about this movie was how real it is. Often children in foster care are portrayed very inaccurately. I felt like the writers did a fabulous job showing the uniqueness of each of the children in the movie. I also was impressed with how the writers showed the causes behind the behaviors of the kids. Kids aren't usually "bad" for no reason. It was nice to finally see a film that showed that often those behaviors are a way for a child to remain safe, survive, and cope under very difficult circumstances. I felt like the writing really allowed the unique personalities of the kids to shine. I particularly adored a little girl in the film who couldn't ride a bike, someone had told her she was too fat to ride. We all know I can't ride a bike to save my soul. I told Ray after that part that we needed to find her and adopt her!
If we weren't already completing our foster care licensing I would be making the call today to get started! My hope is that Camp will touch the hearts of people watching and motivate more people to foster. There is a line in the movie that I will end with.
"He is testing you. To see if you give a damn, because no one else does."
I promise I do!
Please take the time to go see Camp in the theater.
Inspired by true events that have happened through the years of Royal Family KIDS, the foster children that get to come to these camps are vulnerable and broken. Each year counselors from local churches volunteer a week of their time to mentor foster children through this non-profit organization started by a couple whom I have the privilege of personally knowing, Wayne and Diane Tesch. I remember sitting in a church service in Orange County, CA back in 1985 (yep, that would make me 7 years old) and listening to Wayne tell the story of the starfish, and how we might be unable to rescue every single child from pain, but we can make a difference in at least one.
A seed was planted that Sunday morning which eventually led to my husband and I becoming certified foster parents, and as a result the adoption of 2 of our 6 children.
In CAMP, we meet a little boy named Eli who has already experienced his fair share of pain and trauma. He is new to the foster system and acts out based on the survival skills he has had to learn just to make it in life. No child should ever be as street smart as Eli was. Same story for the other precious children that you will meet in CAMP. Their behavior is unique, yet completely makes sense as their individual stories unfold.
Eli is paired with reluctant and first time counselor Ken, who is not at all familiar with children in crisis (or children at all for that matter). Ken signed up to work at camp in hopes of completing a business deal, while at the same time Eli is thrust into an environment in which he has never been exposed to either. These two newbies are forced to work together and have fun. Even though Eli exhibits raunchy behavior, the movie opens with his back-story that explains his poor choices due to neglect and pain. It causes the watcher to root for this little guy from the beginning because you understand right away that in this world of 'pretty people', he has the odds stacked against him mightily.
In one of the closing scenes Ken reflects back on the week, and how it is now time to go back to real life. One of my favorite lines from the movie is in this scene as he makes the observation based on his experience,
now I feel like my whole life is fake and camp is real.
It is true that for children living in crisis, one week will not erase the horrors they have suffered in such a short time. But it can provide hope to a child who has none. And love to another who has never felt it before.
I encourage you to seek out a theater that is showing CAMP, and if it is not showing near you, ask them to bring it! Please forward this post, or click below to SHARE it on your social media sites.
*Warning* Watching CAMP will increase your compassion sensors as you will experience the results of pain and neglect through the eyes of an innocent child. If you feel called to be a counselor for a RFKC in your area, please look into what you need to do to make that happen. In extreme cases, you may have the desire to look into foster care or adoption. In that case, pray before you tell your husband. ;) And message me if you want any information about either of those things!
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Camp opens in theaters across the nation this month. Click here to see if it is showing near you.
If you think you may want to volunteer at a camp like this search online for one in your area, but don't worry, they will train you so you can be a better counselor than Ken was.
I always hope that at least when a movie is bad, it has some level of entertainment or interest. This film had none of that. Save yourself the time and the price of rental or admission to this movie.
"I must have seen at least a couple hundred movies and never commented on one before." And I just haven't.
But I swear this movie compelled me to comment on it's power...man does this movie have power.
At first glance, I felt like I was watching just another cheesy Christian movie that has good intentions, but can't pull it all together to create even a "B" movie. There are so many of those.
But after about 20-30 minutes, you become immersed in the dialogue, and the characters quickly begin meaning something to you.
By half way,every single moment in the film is valuable to you, the ending most of all.
But at the very, very end, no spoilers here, I was fighting off a full-on sob..that of joy and anger and guilt, and hope.
If you're not into feel-good-yet-heart-wrenching movies right now, don't watch this.
But if you want to witness the purification of the human spirit in all it's beauty, then quiet your house, turn off the lights, and sit, down.
I have to say it was everything I was expecting. In fact I could have written it, that's how predictable the plot was - which is actually not a criticism since, twenty years ago, I lived this for real and everything that happened then was exactly what happened in this film.
Except the end, but we'll get to that.
We are introduced to Ken Matthews (Michael Mattera), a financial adviser who is looking to scoop the business from some rich woman. He discovers that one of her philanthropic pursuits involves donating to a camp run for foster kids. In the hope she will hire him, he volunteers as a camp counsellor at that very camp.
Of course he turns out to be one of the most pig-ignorant counsellors you're ever likely to meet - constantly distracted by his smartphone and paying Eli, the kid he is assigned, little quality attention.
Of course it doesn't help that the kid keeps running away from him, is prone to biting and even spits in his face.
For the first, I would say, half of the film Ken is constantly looking for a way out of the situation, whether it be leaving the camp himself or encouraging the camp director to kick Eli out for breaking the rules. All through this struggle he is constantly trying to get Eli to swim, assuring him that he is a former lifeguard so nothing would happen to him.
Of course we all know that there is more than just a fear of the water behind Eli's reticence and, for me, that's where the only error in the writing lies. If we didn't see in an early scene Eli getting a stick pulled out on him by his father, then we would have been able to relate to Ken a little better rather than just thinking he is ignorant. It also would have been a lot more shocking when Eli finally takes off his shirt and we see the marks on his body, instead of us just thinking, 'Yep, that's what we expected to see.' It takes this long in the film before we can relate to Ken on any level because we know something he doesn't. I don't know why they felt we needed to see Eli's home life, it kind of spoilt it a little.
Anyway, obviously Ken's perception of Eli changes. He relinquishes his smartphone and makes the next few days about Eli having fun (which it should have been about to begin with).
What had me in tears, of course, was the goodbye scene. Ken had one kid for five days, I had eight kids of 8 weeks, but I still remember every one of their faces and their names. Each have their part in fond shared memories. The most devastating day of my life the day after which I would never see them again. It was like you were their father for eight weeks, after which someone said, 'Thanks but you're not needed anymore,' then wrenched them into oblivion. I have to say it was a bittersweet sample of American culture.
Of course, this being Hollywood, it has to have a happy ending right? Two scenes, that looked like they were hurriedly pasted on the end of the film, involve the counsellor talking to his father and then Ken leading Eli from a children's home to his car. It felt entirely convoluted and killed the film's credibility a little at the end.
However, it was still an enjoyable film with excellent performances by both Miles Elliot (Eli) and Michael Mattera (Ken), who seemed to have an on-screen chemistry that worked well.
I especially recommend this film to anyone who might have been a camp counsellor at any time in the past, you will get the most out of it. Granted my review may have given you some spoilers but there is little here to surprise you anyway. It's not about surprising you, it's about making you think and feel.
Personally, I think Camp falls into that middle ground. The kid has flaws, a nice change from the syrupy sweet orphan trope. But it's not exactly new either. We've see the guy whose mind is on money (and often women) bond with a troubled kid. It's a concept that has a great amount of potential, but there should be a couple added layers to tell it apart from the bunch. This film just doesn't have that.
Its soundtrack is generic, the acting swivels between awkward and sincere, and the script is a bit lacking. It was difficult to become fully immersed. The camp site is actually very pretty, and I think the film would have benefited from more nature shots.
Lastly, I started this not knowing it had a tinge of Christianity. Strangely, it doesn't feel like it belongs. There is very little focus on it throughout the film. It pops up from time to time, usually in a one-on-one conservation, but feels very distant from the plot. Clip it away and nothing changes. Mostly it induced an eye roll. On a brighter side, it never goes full-on "God is joyous and miraculous!" on the viewer (though is dangerously close) if only because another character is skeptical about it.