[[caption-width-right:350:Know what I mean?]]
A family comedy from 1987, ''Ernest Goes to Camp'' is the first of the Film/ErnestPWorrell series of movies. It introduced the Ernest character onto the big screen[[note]]Although it wasn't the first Ernest movie to be filmed. The character had appeared a year earlier in an obscure movie called 'Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam', which sat in the can until 1992.[[/note]] and launched the movie career of the late Jim Varney.

Ernest is a handyman at Camp Kikakee who wants to become a camp counselor, but his [[TheKlutz clumsiness]] and [[CloudCuckooLander absent-mindedness]] keep getting in the way. Eventually, he is put in charge of a group of juvenile delinquents whom no one else wants to tolerate, and he wins their begrudging respect with the help of the camp's owner, [[MagicalNativeAmerican Chief Saint Cloud]], and his granddaughter, the camp nurse.

The camp's future is in danger, however, when an unscrupulous mining corporation discovers that the camp sits on top of a rare mineral deposit. Using the unwitting Ernest as a proxy, they trick the Chief into signing over the deed to the land. Can Ernest and his RagtagBunchOfMisfits [[SavingTheOrphanage save the camp]] from destruction?

!!This film provides examples of:

* ATeamMontage: An excellent example. There's nothing better to kick greedy miners off your land than improvised war machines built to the tune of a pumping 1980's power ballad.
* AfraidOfNeedles: Ernest goes through some outrageous antics to avoid getting an immunization shot.
* AmoralAttorney: Subverted--Krader's lawyer persistently tries to talk his client ''out of'' his various dirty deeds, even when he is within his legal rights.
* AwardBaitSong: "Gee I'm Glad It's Raining"
* BadassGrandpa: Chief St. Cloud.
* BewareTheNiceOnes[=/=]{{Determinator}}: Ernest himself, once he's [[BerserkButton pushed]] [[AdrenalineMakeover far]] [[TookALevelinBadass enough.]] "They ain't gonna get this camp!"
* BilingualDialogue: Ernest and Chief St. Cloud, along with sign language.
* BookEnds: Ernest monologuing about what it means to be a camp counselor, and then falling off a ladder.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Ernest's first monologue.
* CharacterActionTitle
* ChekhovsGun: [[RunningGag The maintenance cart]] that always gets away from Ernest.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Sherman Krader.
* DeathFromAbove: [[spoiler: Snapping turtles with parachutes. Set to ''[[Music/RichardWagner Ride of the Valkyries]]''!]]
* EdibleAmmunition: Edible explosives, too.
* AFatherToHisMen: Although Ernest clearly isn't ''the'' father to any of the boys in camp, in his own simple-mindedness and naive innocence, he certainly feels like a father figure to them, even though they spent much of their time earlier in the movie pulling all kinds of devious stunts to make a fool of himself.
* FisheyeLens: This movie loves them.
* HomemadeInventions: Ernest builds a barbecue which he operates using a length of fire hose cord attached to his foot, which ends up wrapping around the roasting spit and nearly dragging Ernest into the fire. Then there's the whole armory that Ernest and his troop build at the climax of the film. Then there's the two cooks and their Wonka-esque lunch machine.
* ImprovisedWeapon: Tons in the GrandFinale.
* ItsPersonal: Krader deciding to take matters into his own hands.
* KarmaHoudini: The two campers who bully the last chance kids never seem to get punished by the camping staff for their actions, which include tripping Moose and setting their tepee on fire. The last chance kids fight back in both instances and seem to be the only ones to get punished, nearly getting sent back to the detention center after the last incident. [[spoiler: However, the bullies do join them in saving the camp at the end.]]
** This is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] when the kids are punished with digging while the bullies taunt them. ("This isn't fair! They tripped Moose!")
** Played with regarding Krader. While his plans were foiled, there is no mention of him even being arrested for defrauding the chief into signing paperwork or shooting at Ernest in broad daylight.[[note]]Maybe. We do see Nurse St. Cloud returning to the camp with some kind of formal paperwork and shouting "We got it!" - suggesting that her appeal to the court about Krader's fraud was upheld. The film doesn't go into the details, however.[[/note]]
* KidAppealCharacter: Moose, the youngest of the "last chance kids", appears to be this. While the rest of them tend to be [[TheGenericGuy generic troublemakers]], he's the only one with a real personality, being a generally nice kid (and there's no clue as to why he was in the detention center in the first place) and the first of them to like Ernest (after Ernest [[BecauseYouWereNiceToMe saves him from drowning]]).
* LastOfHisKind: Nurse St. Cloud tells Krader that she and her grandfather are the only remaining members of their Native American tribe.
* LethalChef: Jake and Eddie. Their 'abilities' and their [[HomemadeInventions Liver-Loaf Lunch Arranger]] are actually weaponized in the finale, bombarding the miners with concoctions like "graham cracker bouillabaisse" fired at high velocity. Not to mention the fact that Jake's [[MasochistsMeal Eggs Erroneous]] contains enough explosive power to take out a bulldozer.
** As it turns out during the credits scenes, getting one of their infamous recipes ''right'' has some... interesting effects.
* ManlyTears
* MeaningfulName[=/=]NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Krader (read: crater) Mining Associates, Inc.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Ernest suffers one at the hands of Krader's enforcer.
** He and the boys then deliver one to Krader's entire force.
* ParentalBonus: At one point while being tortured [[spoiler: with a booster shot]], Ernest blurts out, [[LargeHam "I DID IT! I TOOK THE LINDBERGH BABY! I AM JOSEPH MENGELE!"]]
* PhonyVeteran: To bolsters the kids' morale during a hike, Ernest makes some rather dubious claims about his experiences in [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar 'Nam.]]
* PyroManiac: Ernest is implied to be one, judging by scene where he stares at a lit match in ecstasy until somebody interrupts him.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Nurse St. Cloud chews the boys out something fierce for not having faith in Ernest. This leads to a collective HeelFaceTurn.
* RecycledInSpace: Pristine land, owned by Natives, under threat from a mining company looking for a rare mineral? You're either describing this film or ''{{Film/Avatar}}''.
* RuleOfThree: The Native American warrior, in the story told in the beginning, survives the knife, rock, and arrow. [[spoiler: Also Ernest in the ending, surviving three shots from Krader's rifle.]]
* RunningGag: "...Is that a rabbit over there...?" (Said whenever Ernest wants to get away from something.)
* SadTimesMontage: "Gee, I'm glad it's raining..."
* SavingTheOrphanage: The camp, in this case.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: Krader deciding to shoot Ernest. Exactly how did he plan to get away with that?
** How did Krader expect to get away with forcibly evicting people via bulldozer? Krader seems to be under the impression he's invulnerable. By the end of it, everyone thinks he's insane.
* ShoutOut: During a RousingSpeech to the second-chancers, Ernest encourages them "[[Franchise/StarTrek to boldly go where no man has gone before]]."
* SlobsVersusSnobs
* SmurfettePrinciple: Nurse St. Cloud is the only female at Camp Kikakee.
* ThisMeansWarpaint: Chief St. Cloud paints the faces of Ernest and the boys before the battle. Complete with tribal singing.
* TrickedIntoSigning: [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Krader]] tricks the owner of Camp Kikakee, Chief Saint Cloud, into signing ownership of the camp over to him so that he can bulldoze it down.
* TurtlePower: [[NinjaPirateRobotZombie Turtle paratroopers]]!
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the scene which introduces Krader, a family is trying to keep their home and he physically assaults the father. No mention of what happened to them after that is ever made.
* WorstAid: Just another way the boys mess with Ernest.