Documentary Monday~~Jesus Camp

TitleJesus Camp

Year–2006

Awards–Won the Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2006

Won the Grand Jury Award at the Silverdocs Documentary Festival, 2006

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 2007

Summary–This film looks at the Evangelical Christian movement in this country and specifically focuses on their ministry to children.  It follows several kids as they go to the Kids on Fire camp in North Dakota.

My Thoughts–I am finding it really hard to talk about this movie.  Whenever people start to talk about religion or politics, somebody is bound to get offended, and this documentary is loaded with both of those things.  I will preface this post by saying that my parents are both Methodist ministers.  I grew up in a Christian house and even went to church camp many times during my childhood.  That being said, this film scared the living sh*t out of me.  It made me terrified and it made me really, really, really mad.  There is one point at the end when the leader of the Kids on Fire camp literally says, “extreme liberals who see this must be shaking in their boots.”  Yes, Becky, yes I am.

First of all, I just wanted to point out that even though I did go to church camp several times, I am not a fan of it.  I always felt emotionally manipulated by a lot of the stuff that happened there (it is very easy to cause someone to break down in tears when they are ten years old and away from home for a whole week).  It also doesn’t help that one of the most traumatizing events in my life happened at church camp.

So since I am bringing all of my own views and biases, I am just going to try to point out a few things that happened in the film and you can judge for yourself on how you would feel about them.

*Becky literally says that she enjoys preaching for kids because they are “so usable for Christianity.”

*There were multiple instances of grownups telling children that evolution and global warming are ridiculous.

*A little girl named Rachel is shown several times randomly approaching strangers to tell them about God.  She goes up to some old guys and says, “If you were to die right now, where would you go?” And they said “Heaven.” And as she was walking away she said, “I think they were Muslims.” and shakes her head.

*So many shots of kids sobbing uncontrollably, shaking, flailing about, and wailing during camp.

*The kids get called up to break porcelain mugs symbolizing the government because the government is corrupt and allows abortion.

*Becky says, “Let me talk to you about Harry Potter….warlocks are enemies of God!!!  If this was the Old Testament Harry Potter would’ve been put to death!!!!!!!!”

*Some boys were having a great time in the cabin at bedtime playing with flashlights and being silly.  Then a counselor busts in and makes them feel terrible for having fun.

Final Verdict–This was really hard for me to watch, but I am glad that I saw it.

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8 Responses to “Documentary Monday~~Jesus Camp”


  1. 1 ngtlindsay May 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    This sounds like something I’d enjoy watching.
    True story: I went to Mormon camp as a child. I had no idea it was Mormon camp until a few years ago when one of my cousins was talking about their faith and I was like…what? And then I was like…but you took me to your church camp… OMG I went to Mormon camp!
    But honestly I can’t remember it being super religious. We did arts and crafts and played basketball and went swimming and did all the normal camp things. I do remember having prayer session before bed every night, but I never picked up on any Mormon themes. It was all about giving thanks to God.
    Huh.
    I’m sorry that your church camp experience sucked so much. Was it like the Jesus camp?

  2. 2 Diana May 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I borrowed this movie years ago, but never got around to watching it (may have watched five minutes at the beginning).

    I grew up in a non-religious household and consider myself a non-religious person. I didn’t grow up around a lot of people who practiced any religion. As a child, organized religion (specifically Christianity) really creeped me out. Based on all that, I’m pretty sure I would be majorly creeped out by this documentary.

  3. 3 Diana May 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I think there’s a girl in the documentary (her name may be Tina?) that Perez Hilton used to talk about all the time on his blog.

  4. 4 ngtjennifer May 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Diana, I think that just about anybody would be creeped out by this film, religious or not 🙂 I don’t follow Perez Hilton, but I think I know exactly what girl it is that he would talk about.

    Lindsay, the camp I went to wasn’t like Jesus Camp, it sounds a lot more like yours. It was awful for me because right at the beginning of the camp they divided us up into our groups that we would stay with all week. The way they picked the groups was every kids worst nightmare.

    We all stood in a line on the basketball court and the leaders of the groups would run out and grab a kid and take them back to their group. This happened about 6 times until everybody had a group. Well, after the last time I was literally the only kid left on the basketball court. Finally someone took pity on me and ran out to grab me. I was so traumatized that I wanted to go home right then. I hated that whole week because I just knew everyone was looking at me thinking, “oh, there’s the girl that didn’t get picked.” I have hated everything to do with church camp ever since then.

  5. 5 ngtlindsay May 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    @Jen OMG! WHAT THE HELL? That is absolutely ridiculous! The only proper way to put kids into a group is to do it before they arrive and randomly. That is AWFUL. I can’t even imagine anyone thinking that was a good idea!

  6. 6 ngtjennifer May 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I know….it was completely ridiculous. The group leaders were also really clique-y and only concerned with flirting with each other instead of helping their campers. I am still traumatized every time I think about it and can’t help getting all teary.

  7. 7 Diana May 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    That’s terrible, Jen! Sorry you had to go through that at camp. 😦

  8. 8 ngtjennifer May 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, it was pretty bad. But you know, if that is one of the worst moments of my life, I’ve had a pretty easy life so far 🙂


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