Ernest Goes to Camp

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Ernest Goes to Camp
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn R. Cherry III
Produced byMartin Erlichman
Elmo Williams
Written byJohn R. Cherry III
Coke Sams
Music byShane Keister
CinematographyHarry Mathias
Jim May
Edited byMarshall Harvey
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • May 22, 1987 (1987-05-22)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million
Box office$23.5 million[1]

Ernest Goes to Camp is a 1987 American comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and starring Jim Varney. It is the second film to feature the character of Ernest P. Worrell and was shot at Montgomery Bell State Park. It was also the first Ernest film to be distributed by Touchstone Pictures, and Iron Eyes Cody's final appearance on screen.


Long ago, a young Plains warrior is tested by being the target of three different weapons.

Centuries later, Ernest P. Worrell works as a maintenance man at Kamp Kikakee but hopes to become a counselor. He quickly becomes a valuable addition to the staff, skilled at Plains Indian Sign Language, used by Kikakee's owner, Chief St. Cloud.

A small group of juvenile delinquents, the Second Chancers, come to Kikakee. Head Counselor Tipton assigns Kikakee's most experienced counselor, Ross Stennis, to be the boys' counselor. Stennis is unhappy with this, and he treats the boys harshly. After he goes too far by intentionally causing Moustafa Jones, the smallest boy in the group, to nearly drown in the lake during swimming, only for Moustafa to be rescued by Ernest, the boys retaliate against Stennis' cruelness by toppling his lifeguard perch into the lake, badly injuring Stennis' leg in the process. With Stennis no longer able to perform his duties as a counselor, and Kikakee already shorthanded, Tipton offers Stennis' position to Ernest.

The Second Chancers initially give Ernest trouble, but they start to show respect during a campfire session when Nurse St. Cloud translates her grandfather's description of the warrior initiation ritual for his tribe. The initiate must hold still while a knife, a stone hatchet, and an arrow are thrown or shot at him. The courage of the young warrior apparently alters the course of each weapon to prevent it from striking. The Second Chancers build a tepee only to find it burned. They fight Pennington, one of the regular campers, because he was responsible. Tipton is poised to expel them, but Ernest convinces him otherwise.

Meanwhile, an evil mining corporation run by Krader wants the petrocite at Kikakee. Chief St. Cloud refuses to sell. Krader manipulates Ernest into obtaining the chief's signature. Using Ernest as an interpreter, St. Cloud signs the land away. Tipton sadly announces that the camp must close. Nurse St. Cloud confronts Ernest, who stammers that he will fix the situation.

Ernest and the Second Chancers storm into the construction site and demand the boss. Krader is not present, but the foreman, Bronk, beats up Ernest, who goes away alone. Later, Nurse St. Cloud overhears the kids demeaning Ernest's effort, so she reveals that Ernest is the only person who has defended them. They resolve to find him and apologize.

Krader is poised to demolish Kikakee, and while the regular staff and campers are sent home, Ernest and the Second Chancers decide to risk openly attacking the construction site to stall for time. They are joined by Chief St. Cloud, chefs Jake and Eddie, and former camper rivals, Pennington and Brooks.

The group improvises some non-lethal weapons. Chief St. Cloud arrives to bless the fighters, though Nurse St. Cloud begs them not to go through with it. The assault quickly cripples the construction site's equipment. However, the foreman escapes in a bulldozer and destroys several camp buildings. The group stops him with Ernest's motorized maintenance cart filled with explosives. Ernest then knocks out Bronk.

Krader arrives with his lawyer. He targets Ernest with his hunting rifle. Echoing Kikakee's ancient testimonial pow wow, Ernest faces down Krader and apparently passes the test as Krader takes three shots at him, missing every time. Ernest then plugs Krader's hunting rifle with his finger and laughs in his face, signaling his defeat. Krader's lawyer says Krader has finally encountered a force too powerful for him. As Krader retreats, Nurse St. Cloud returns with an injunction against the demolition.

Later, Kamp Kikakee is operational with all campers and a full staff. Nurse St. Cloud thanks Ernest for all he has done, and reveals Krader was arrested for fraud. Chief St. Cloud now seems to understand English, and Ernest is a full-fledged counselor. When trying to rebuild the Kamp Kikakee sign, Ernest falls.


  • Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell
  • Victoria Racimo as Nurse St. Cloud
  • John Vernon as Sherman Krader
  • Iron Eyes Cody as Old Indian 'Chief St. Cloud'
  • Lyle Alzado as Bronk Stinson, Krader's Foreman
  • Gailard Sartain as Jake (Chef #1)
  • Daniel Butler as Eddie (Chef #2)
  • Patrick Day as Bobby Wayne
  • Scott Menville as Crutchfield
  • Danny Capri as Danny Simpson
  • Jacob Vargas as Butch "Too Cool" Vargas
  • Todd Loyd as Chip Ozgood
  • Hakim Abdulsamad as Moustafa "Moose" Hakeem Jones
  • Eddy Schumacher as Counselor Ross Stennis
  • Richard Speight, Jr. as Brooks
  • Andy Woodworth as Pennington
  • Buck Ford as Mr. Blatz, Krader's Attorney
  • Larry Black as Mr. Tipton, the Head Counselor of Kamp Kikikee
  • Hugh Sinclair as Counselor Sparks
  • Johnson West as Counselor Puckett
  • Jean Wilson as State Supervisor
  • Ivan Green as Mr. Stewart
  • Christian Haas as Molly Stewart
  • Brenda Haynes as Mrs. Stewart
  • Charlie Lamb as Miner
  • Mac Bennett as Miner


Ernest Goes to Camp was the best received of the franchise, earning a 62% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating a mostly positive response.[2] However, Varney was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst New Star.

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success.[3][4][5]


The songs were written by Alice and Shane Keister.

  • Ashley Cleveland sang "We're Gonna Win this One" while the boy campers are building their teepee.
  • Gary Chapman sang "Brave Hearts" during the film and in the credits.
  • Ernest sang "Gee I'm Glad It's Raining" when he and other campers are sad about the camp's closing.
  • The second song used when Ernest sends box turtles by parachute on Krader's men is "Happy Together," a song which was written and recorded by the musical group The Turtles. It also serves as a theme song of the film.

Home media[edit]

This film's first DVD release was on September 3, 2002, from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Mill Creek Entertainment re-released it on January 18, 2011, as part of the two-disc set Ernest Triple Feature along with Ernest Goes to Jail and Ernest Scared Stupid. They also released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011, in a single disc Double Feature set along with Ernest Goes to Jail, and later on its own Blu-ray on June 13, 2011. A second Blu-ray double feature with Camp Nowhere was released on March 26, 2013.


  1. ^ Ernest Goes to Camp at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Willman, Chris (1993-11-16). "Varney: The Importance of Being Ernest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office". Los Angeles Times. 1997-05-06. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  4. ^ "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. 1987-06-02. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  5. ^ Klady, Leonard (1989-01-08). "Box Office Champs, Chumps : The hero of the bottom line was the 46-year-old 'Bambi'". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-07-06.

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