50th Anniversary of Camp Runamuck

I haven’t watched every episode of all of the obscure TV shows I’ve written articles about. I’ve watched a handful of episodes of some shows but for many of them I’ve only been able to watch one episode. With few exceptions, I’m interested in watching more episodes of any obscure TV. Camp Runamuck is one of those exceptions. You can read my article about it here.

I’ve seen one episode of the 1965-1966 sitcom, which celebrates its 50th anniversary today. It premiered on Friday, September 17th, 1965 and somehow managed to last the entire season despite scathing reviews and horrible ratings (the average rating for the first two episodes placed Camp Runamuck 89th out of 96 programs on the networks).

The Boys and Girls of NBC’s Camp Runamuck – September 11th, 1965
Copyright © TV Guide, 1965

I think the problem is that Camp Runamuck only appealed to children unlike shows that could appeal to children and adults like Lost in Space, Flipper, The Munsters. TV Guide, in its Fall Preview summary of Camp Runamuck, suggested fathers watching with their kids would have only one thing to look forward to:

Fortunately, for male adults whose children may insist on watching this flapdoodle, there is a girls’ camp across the lake, one of whose counselors is Caprice Yeudleman (Nina Wayne). Caprice may not know how to put up a pup tent, but she can do wonders for a middy blouse.

(I must admit to not being familiar with the term “flapdoodle,” although I gather it isn’t a good thing, nor do I know what a middy blouse is.)

I have absolutely no interest in watching any additional episodes of Camp Runamuck, even for research purchases. It’s a painful show to watch as an adult. I think I know everything I need to know about it from viewing one episode, reading countless reviews, and studying plot summaries from newspaper listings.

For those of you who may have watched Camp Runamuck when it originally aired 50 years ago, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you were young enough did you enjoy it?


6 Comments

  • David says:

    Hermione Baddeley was always hilarious. I wonder if it was her decision to not return after the pilot, or if the creators wanted a different actress.

  • Karen Martin says:

    For anyone who doesn’t know what a middy blouse is — have you ever seen a sailor dress, with a square collar, and a loosely tied scarf worn under the collar? The blouse part is a middy blouse. In the early 1900s it was part of girls’ gym uniforms, and even part of early swim suits.

    As for Camp Runamuck, I did watch the show when I was eight years old. I liked the show, but half a century later I can’t remember much more than I thought it was funny.

  • Jon says:

    I was an infant of less than a year old when this show was on NBC, so I never saw it in primetime. I never saw it until I saw a brief few moments of this show when it was on Nickelodeon during the summer of 1991 or 1992 on something called “Camp Nickelodeon”. I remember seeing Dave Madden, who was best known as Reuben Kincaid on “The Partridge Family” starting 5 years later, in a Camp Runamuck t-shirt and knowing he’d been on this sitcom. (He mentioned the show in his 1971 TV Guide cover profile, and oddly enough I read that he beat out his former Camp Runamuck co-star Dave Ketchum for the part of Reuben.) I then saw a few episodes and taped at least one summer 1992, when Comedy Central was rerunning it in the afternoons.

    I remember a couple plots, and the stupidest one, I thought (and maybe the one I taped), involved the camp physically shrinking because of treatment by a lousy exterminator. The camp counselors tried to make the camp owner, played by Arch Johnson, think that the campers & counselors all grew to giant size due to some magical beans they’d eaten. They almost got away with it too.

    This show was created by David Swift, who wrote & directed The Parent Trap (whose plot started at a girls’ summer camp) and created other sitcoms like “Mr. Peepers”, “Grindl” & “Arnie”.

    The show was probably hampered a lot by poor NBC affiliate clearance. It wasn’t carried where I lived in Upstate NY (WRGB-TV preempted a lot of NBC programs, even in primetime.), Nashville, and Louisville.

    The picture that TV Guide took for its Fall Preview is pretty strange, I think, given that the camp was exclusively for boys (no girls there at all, though Maureen McCormick made a guest appearance as a tomboy who wanted to go to Camp Runamuck instead of the girls Camp Divine) and also that the boys were hardly ever featured either. Dave Madden mentioned once that the show many episodes ran stock footage of boys being loaded onto a truck and driven off so that the story would only involve the counselors.

  • Percy Dovetonsils says:

    ‘I must admit to not being familiar with the term “flapdoodle,”’

    I believe it’s an old-timey version of ‘steaming pile’.

  • Chuck Collins says:

    I hereby move that the title of “Worst Classic Sitcom Of All Time” be removed from “MY MOTHER THE CAR” and given most deservedly to “CAMP RUNAMUCK”

  • Thomasz says:

    I have some vague memories of watching this show, I recall that one of the counselors had swallowed a whistle and constantly had hiccups, after which the whistle he had swallowed would blow. That itself made for some good laughs. Does anyone remember it?

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