Follow TV Tropes


Horrible Camping Trip

Go To
At least they've got some chocolate Hobnobs...

"Calvin, tell your dad that any judge would take this trip as grounds for divorce."

Simply put, several members of the cast go on a camping trip, and disaster ensues.

This plot is sometimes used even in situations where the characters do not live anywhere near the wilderness, nor seem the type who would even go on camping trips or have any experience doing so. In fact, you can guarantee that, out of a whole group, only one person will even think the trip is a good idea: usually Dad (if it's a family Sitcom) or the guy who remembers doing it as a kid, and will always view the experience through a Nostalgia Filter. (The Bratty Teenage Daughter, on the other hand, will not be shy about acting like a City Mouse.) Another variant is the father (and it's nearly always the father) coming up with the whole thing as a way to have a cheap vacation, either because they can't afford better or because he can't be persuaded to unchain his wallet.note  A father (especially a macho one to a nerdy son) might also take his son on one of these out of a desire for bonding.

Typical disasters include being Snowed-In, dealing with never-ending rain, struggling with a Hard-to-Light Fire, running out of food, suffering from Cabin Fever, poison ivy, or getting attacked by an incredibly fake-looking bear. (Or Bigfoot. Or every animal.) It would seem much safer to go to a resort lodge to avoid such things, but that will usually be shot down due to budget or because it's not "traditional" enough. It's much cheaper to use an old wood cabin set, or dark set obscured by bushes where the camera never moves away from a campfire. An even cheaper device is characters going ice fishing, sometimes in said cabin.

Occasionally the excuse given is the trip is part of a "company retreat", in which case it's the Pointy-Haired Boss who's the only one who thinks it's a good idea.

A subtrope of Camping Episode. See also Macho Disaster Expedition and Summer Campy. Don't Go in the Woods is the darker and deadlier horror equivalent of this. Compare Deadly Road Trip, where any trip to a foreign land ends badly. Sometimes, though, one person enjoys it (usually a Nature Lover and/or someone with very good luck), in which case it overlaps with Only One Finds It Fun.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Chapters 40 and 41 of High School Ninja Girl, Otonashi-san features the main characters promptly getting lost in the woods on a camping trip. One of them beings a corded rice cooker, and they get harassed by a bear that can out-ninja Otonashi (actually her brother, upset at not being invited).
  • Chapter 59 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has Elma chaperoning a picnic involving Kanna, Saikawa, and Shouta (although the tent does suggest that they were spending the night there). The typical problems of camping trips affect Elma (getting lost in the woods looking for the kids after they accompany Shouta with his mana research without informing her; having a run-in with a bear), only with her eventually going into full Dragon mode out of frustration, with Kanna and Shouta having to prevent Saikawa from seeing this side of Elma.
  • The Forest Trip arc of My Hero Academia starts out like this for the class members of 1-A who failed their exams and have to take gruelling remedial classes for it, but it progressively gets much worse for everyone involved when The League of Villains unleash a massive attack on the camp grounds which leave practically every student injured, a forest fire, and the League succeed in their plans to kidnap Bakugo and one of the Pro Heroes so they can try to recruit the former and the Big Bad can take the latter's Quirk.
  • In Nichijou, the three main protagonists go to camping in order to relax and have some fun. But the trip goes increasingly worse because of the nature of the girls. It all culminates in Yui's soup falling to the ground sort of like The Office's chili.
  • Episode 8 of Persona 4: The Animation takes the game's school camping trip and turns it into this. And it breaks the fanbase over whether it's funny or not. (Though there's no doubt about how much it sucks to be Kanji.)

    Fan Works 
  • This Emergency! fic. John Gage is clawed by a mama bear while protecting Roy's son. Roy must handle treating him without the usual equipment until they can get help.
  • One challenge in Total Drama Legacy is a camping challenge, and it ends up being this for the Modern Mandrills.
  • In The House of Potter-Greengrass Susan mentions a camping trip when she was eight where her aunt tried summoning the portable icebox from the faeries who were raiding it and ended up wearing the food inside when one faerie wouldn't let go. Then Susan swatted at the faeries with a branch and hit her aunt instead.
  • In In-Tents-ly Sick, while on a camping trip, the characters burn their food, get lost, suffer food poisoning, among other mishaps.

  • Deliverance, like the James Dickey novel on which it's based, plays this trope completely straight and to its logical, tragic extreme.
  • The premise of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 has the Patriarch of the Baker family taking his family to a camping lodge. Of course, things do go awry but what really dampens the trip is the father competing with his arch-rival and his family.
  • The Great Outdoors. Possibly a Defining Moment.
  • Cannibal Holocaust portrays this in the most scary, bloody, gory and violent way imaginable.
  • Pretty much becomes this in Yeti: A Love Story.
  • Sixties comedy of Double Entendres, Carry On Camping, is fueled by this trope. Paradise Camp Site is in a muddy field, much to the annoyance of Sid Boggle and Bernie Lugg (who were hoping that it was a nudist camp full of attractive women); Peter Potter, who is bossed around by his wife Harriet and forced to share his tent with Charlie Muggins; and all the other campers, who have to deal with a hippie-filled concert being held by The Flowerbuds in the next field over.
  • Alien Abduction (2014) looks like it will start as a more mundane example of this, with a malfunctioning tent and a glitching GPS getting them horribly lost, but then the aliens show up and start hunting the family down.
  • Welcome to the Jungle (not to be confused with other films having this title, like The Rundown): What is originally a corporate retreat to a tropical island to build teamwork ends with the pilot having a heart attack (which stranded everybody), the guide (apparently) eaten by a jaguar, and the whole situation becoming a copy-cat of Lord of the Flies, of all things (which even gets some In-Universe Lampshade Hanging at one point).
  • One of the Beethoven sequels has the titular dog accompanying a family on a road trip in an RV, the father being determined to relive his happy memories from his childhood, and naturally gets proven wrong at every opportunity: the campsite he remembered has been taken over by a Japanese business, the RV loses a windshield, and they're being followed by two Stupid Crooks. At the end he has a breakdown when he remembers the original trip wasn't even that great to begin with (their dog got carsick).
  • In Utya: July 22, a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utøya on 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims, a weekly summer camp trip turns into nightmare due to a shooter appearing on the island and starting to shoot people dead.
  • In Long Weekend, a couple undertake a camping trip in an attempt to patch up their failing marriage. Things go wrong right from the kick off, with the husband getting lost and Going in Circles for hours as he tries to find the campsite. But things really go haywire when their callous indifference towards nature, culminating in the shooting of a dugong, unleashes Gaia's Vengeance upon them. Neither survives the weekend.

  • Twice, Adrian Mole goes on a disastrous camping trip.
    • In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, he goes on a survival weekend with the youth club. Unfortunately, Hippie Youth Leader Rick thinks things like maps or the slightest semblance of planning are for squares...
    • In The Wilderness Years, Adrian books a cheap holiday in Russia, which is sold to him as "a week on the Russian lakes and rivers". He believes it will be on a cruise ship, but it turns out to be paddling his own canoe, complete with sleeping in a tent, and drinking water from the river.
  • In one of the Bruno And Boots books, the students go on the annual "wilderness survival" camping trip, which is nicknamed "Die in the Woods". (The canoe they bring along is christened the SS Drown In The Woods.) It really does become a matter of wilderness survival when all their supplies end up in the lake.
  • One of the The Berenstain Bears books details a horrible camping trip that's tainted not only with everything imaginable from floods to swarms of insects, but disappointment. (Papa bear spends the first third of the book hyping the trip up to be the experience of a lifetime). It wasnt a total bust. They all had a good laugh when the looked at the photos afterwards.
  • Outdoor humorist Patrick McManus, who wrote for such magazines as Field & Stream and Outdoor Life and whose articles were collected in numerous books, more or less specialized in chronicling bad camping/fishing/hunting trips.
  • Three Men in a Boat has elements of this.
  • Charlie goes on one with his dad and friends in Stephen King's (writing as Richard Bachman) Rage (1977). He overhears his father discussing the Cherokee Nose Job with his friends (slitting the nose of an adulterous wife) and how he would do it to his own wife if she cheated on him.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In The Last Straw, Greg joins the boy scouts (so he could change his father's mind on shipping him off to military academy), and a father-son camping trip soon takes place. Unfortunately, Greg is unable to go because he is sick on the day of the trip, but Frank (Greg's father) was forced to go because he signed up to be a driver, so he has to go by himself. He ended up getting put in a tent with two boys, and one of them bit the other because the one who got bit laughed at the biter for wetting his pants. And the biter wouldn't let go, so Frank had to pry them apart. And it ended up with the bitten one in the emergency room. Frank was not pleased with this.
    • The trip to Hardscrabble Farms in Old School. Nothing remotely modern is allowed, the cabin bedding is nonexistent and campers are expected to bring their own with seemingly no warning, Greg's bedmate is Rowley's father, the foods served include a stew made from leftovers which was a thing when Greg's father was Greg's age, and the attendees try to get sick to go home early. After this works the first time from a cabinmate eating a stick of deodorant, the teachers confiscate all the boy's deodorant so the others can't escape. This, of course, makes all the cabins smell horrible.
    • The perils encountered in The Deep End include a curious bear, roving skunks, flaming marshmallows and a flash flood.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: by page count, the camping trip from Hell is 1/4 of the book. It feels much longer.
  • Horrid Henry and his family plan a camping holiday in France that ends up like this, much to Henry's disgust (he was hoping for a similar vacation that his arch enemy Margaret had; she claimed to have proper bedding and television sets), complete with one porta-potty in the middle of the woods and rainfall almost every day. His parents try their best to keep a Stiff Upper Lip about their situation, even though it's clear to the reader that they're hating their time in the place as much as their horrid son.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All About Me: The plot of Episode 5 focuses on a dreadful caravan trip - with the exception of Colin, no one can stand the cold, the hand dryer breaks and Kavita finds a (presumably dead) rat in the toilet. The only person seemingly enjoying it is Colin, and everyone else considers it a Fate Worse than Death, not helped by the presence of a bicycle-wielding underpants thief (at least until it turns out that he was only taking them away to iron them). Colin eventually admits that he would prefer something better, but this was all he could afford, and Rupinder is convinced to enjoy the holiday a bit more.
  • The Brady Bunch: "A Camping We Will Go," a Season 1 episode. It's anything but (of course), but the trope is imagined by the boys pre-trip, who are sure it will end up this way since they believe the girls will ruin everything.
  • Step by Step: Much like their ancestors from 22 years earlier, the Fosters and Lamberts go on a camping trip shortly after Frank and Carol are married. The Lambert kids have been camping before, which naturally clashes with the city-like Fosters ... but a good time ensues in the end. Never mind that Frank's Chevrolet Suburban gets knocked into gear and plunges into the lake.
  • Sanford and Son: Fred and Lamont go camping together, and naturally they get into an argument. Lamont wants to leave and cool off ... that is, until the truck won't start. A girl scout troop, which had been camping nearby, arrives later and they figure out that Lamont had flooded the engine. Fred then pretends that he knew the engine was flooded and it was his way of getting his son to stay for some much needed father-son time.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, "Strange New World." The world in question has flowers with a hallucinogenic toxin that make Trip, Travis, and the two crewmen with them extremely paranoid.
  • Community has one of these in a flashback, though the trip became horrible due to an argument between Jeff and Britta about how to pronounce s'mores, among other almost indecipherable dialogue from the rest of the group.
  • Happy Days, "Ugh, Wilderness"
  • Mr. Belvedere: Wesley's trip to a summer camp takes a frightening turn when a camp counselor "rubs his shoulders" in an attempt to molest him. Fortunately, Wesley speaks up, and the counselor (who resigns) is forced to admit he has a problem and needs help.
  • The trope image comes from Bottom, "[Bottom]'s Out", where Eddie remembers to bring the can opener but Richie forgets the canned food; they attempt to go blowpipe hunting with a tentpole and darts, and Richie is repeatedly injured; Eddie almost burns his own face off while trying to light the gas stove (he forgot to put the valve in); and since Wimbledon Common is technically just a giant public park, they're harassed in the middle of the night by a flasher. Also, they appear to have set up camp in an area labelled 'dog toilet', meaning there's dogshit all over the place.
  • Taken to the most extreme levels of parody in Stella, as Michael, Michael and David descend into desperate savagery within minutes of entering the woods.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "The Jem'Hadar" where Sisko, his son Jake, Jake's best friend Nog and Nog's uncle Quark go on a trip to a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, only to wind up encountering the Jem'Hadar forces of the Dominion (for the first time). Even before they run into the Super-Soldier mooks of The Empire, Quark is having a rough old time of it, up to and including accidentally setting himself ablaze with the campfire.
  • The Adventures of Lano and Woodley subverts the trope- the camping trip in question is horrible, yes, but it takes place in the main characters' apartment.
  • Most of the Top Gear presenters' long-distance overseas trips invariably feature something along this line, but the most famous example is when the three go on a caravan holiday to see what the fuss is about and if they'd enjoy it. They do not, most likely since it ends with the caravan burning down into a charred shell, with the only salvagable things being a few inflatables.
  • The Taxi episode "The Call of the Mild" combines this with Snowed-In, as the cabbies attend a wilderness retreat only to get trapped in their cabin without food or provisions during a blizzard.
  • Skins did this a couple of times.
    • "Michelle" from Series 2: Chris loses all the tents and most of the gear because he didn't tie it to the roof of the car; the only remaining tent then gets soaked when the tide comes in; and the car they came in also gets flooded by the tide. Oh, and drama ensues.
    • "Effy" from Series 3 is a rather egregious example: there's a large amount of awkward tension between several of the characters before the poachers, and the shrooms, and the uninvited guest shows up. Oh, and the Manipulative Bitch gets hit over the head with a rock by the main character, who finally loses it.
  • In Hyperdrive Vines is tricked into purchasing a barren planet that is almost, but not quite, completely inhospitable to human life. He kidnaps Jeffers and drags them down onto the surface of the planet, it wasn't a pleasant time.
  • In one episode of Monk, Randy Disher and Adrian Monk go camping with a group of kids. They have to deal with a bear and two criminals.
  • Eureka has this trope in spades, starting with the tent acting up, and ending with an angry TINY trying to attack them all.
  • In the Gene Simmons Family Jewels episode "Alpha Male", Gene's family went off camping in an RV for Sophie's birthday. They dealt with a snake, a bear, and a park ranger with a fire extinguisher.
  • The Inbetweeners did this for their Season 3 finale. It involved sinking a car in a lake, eating raw sausages and then throwing them back up in the tent.
  • In the Father Ted episode "Hell", Ted is granted the use of a caravan for the weekend which turns out to be barely large enough to accommodate Ted, Dougal, and Jack. It begins pouring with rain almost as soon as they get settled in (and Dougal has forgotten to pack any board games, reducing them to hide-and-seek and the famous "Small... far away" explanation of perspective), the only nearby attractions are St Kevin's Stump (an ordinary tree stump) and the Magic Road (on which objects roll uphill in defiance of gravity), the caravan turns out to have been double-booked to the flamboyant Father Noel Furlong and his youth group (who cause the caravan to fall on its side with a re-enactment of Riverdance), and Ted and Dougal repeatedly anger a fellow camper who ultimately leaves them stranded on a country road with four slashed tyres.
  • Parks and Recreation: "Camping". Leslie sends the parks department on a camping retreat to come up with new projects. Ironically, everyone in the parks department save for Ron and Leslie hate camping. Tom brings so many electronic gadgets he drains the van's battery, stranding everyone, while Andy goes to the wrong camping site and has to trek through rough terrain to get there. In the end they all go to a nearby bed and breakfast run by a Crazy Cat Lady (who dies in The Tag of the episode).
  • Married... with Children:
    • The Bundys/Rhodes spend a week in a cabin. No food (until the women find a trap door filled with it near the end of the episode), all the women come on their periods after the first day (at first, it was just Kelly who was on her period, much to the surprise of Bud, who constantly makes fun of her for being sexually promiscuous and not using protection), and said cycling attracts animals who surround the house.
    • Bud rents Al to some neighborhood kids for an overnight campout so he can pay for concert tickets. Al falls asleep at the wheel and crashes the van in a ditch, the supplies are lost, Al and Bud resort to using a flashlight as a campfire, Steve gets incapacitated by poison oak and bee stings, and Buck the dog runs back home and doesn't bother to let Peg and Kelly know that Al, Bud, and Steve are missing.
  • In one episode of Two and a Half Men, Alan feels bad about not doing enough father-son activities with his son Jake, so he drags him out into the middle of the woods for a camping trip. Cue Alan desperately trying to entertain the bored Jake in a tiny tent, including making an attempt at a truly horrible Ghost Story and getting him to sing songs. Did we mention the torrential rainstorm?
  • In The Middle, the Hecks go on a camping trip during summer vacation, since Frankie wants them to have a family bonding experience and they can't afford anything else. Axl gets fed up with Sue constantly pestering him about what high school will be like, Brick spends as much time as he can reading instead of actually experiencing the great outdoors, and Mike and Frankie reflect on how their honeymoon was also a Horrible Camping Trip. To top it off, Sue gets her first period during the night, which attracts a nearby bear and forces everyone to seek shelter in the car. They can't even escape from the bear by driving away, since Brick had inadvertently drained the car's battery by keeping the dome light on for hours so he could read by it.
  • The "Canteen Boy Goes Camping" sketch on Saturday Night Live. The good news is that no supplies or food were lost. The bad news is that it was still bad because Canteen Boy was mocked by his fellow Boy Scout members and spent the rest of the night getting molested by his pedophilic scoutmaster Mr. Armstrong (played by one of SNL's most frequent hosts, Alec Baldwin). Unlike the Mr. Belvedere example above, there was no special, dramatic moment in which Mr. Armstrong realizes what he did was wrong (though when Baldwin came back to host in season 20, he and Adam Sandler had to perform the sketch again in a more politically correct way, as the sketch caught a lot of heat for implying that all Boy Scout masters were pedophiles), but he did get what he deserved when Canteen Boy summoned all of the snakes in the woods to attack him.
  • "Huaka'i Kula", in the third season of Hawaii Five-0.
  • On the third New Girl Thanksgiving Episode, Nick decides to take the gang camping and hunt for their Thanksgiving dinner like the Pilgrims did. The only thing Nick catches is a fish that was already dead, while Cece, Jess and Winston decide to go "foraging" at a nearby grocery store. In the end, Jess gets sick from eating the fish and falls into a bear trap Nick made.
  • The gang on Three's Company go on one that was especially horrible for Jack. All he wants to do is sleep, but he can't get into the hammock without falling out and hitting the ground. Larry then suggests he go for a swim - and steals his clothes. The cabin they had was overbooked, so Janet and Chrissy have to sleep in a tent, while Jack is outside in a sleeping bag. He gets eaten alive by insects AND the zipper on it gets stuck, trapping him in it. All the while, the girl Larry brought along hoping to score with won't stop bothering him, as Larry had told her (the girl was an aspiring actress) that Jack was a director, and she would launch into impromptu auditions anytime she saw him.
  • Family Matters had an episode devoted to Carl attempting to take Eddie camping. First, Waldo and Steve invite themselves along. Then Carl, Eddie, and Waldo fail to catch any fish in the lake. When they get back to camp, they find that a bear ate all their food (except Steve's, since he'd hung his bag in a tree to keep them from reaching it). Then a geothermal geyser erupted under Carl, Eddie, and Waldo's tent (Steve had recognized it for what it was and camped far enough away to be safe). In all fairness, the trip probably would have gone a little better had Carl heeded Steve's warnings.
  • In the Shining Time Station episode, "Schemer Goes Camping", Schemer takes Schemee and Dan camping in the woods while Stacy, Becky, Kara, and Mr. Conductor camp out in the station. Schemer's camping trip turns out disastrous because Schemer isn't as great of an outdoorsman as he claims to be; he can't put up a tent very well, he forgets to pack all of the important equipment, eats all the food, gets left behind during a rainstorm, chased away by a squirrel (having mistaken it for a mountain lion), tumbles down a hill, lands in a creek, and is eventually found by Ginny.
  • In the Ponysitters Club episode "Fire Scare", Billy and Grandpa take Skye and her friends on a camping trip. Skye's hay fever flares up from picking wildflowers, Isabella gets poison ivy because she forgot the "leaves of three" poem, Olivia sprains her ankle while running away from bees, and Grandpa burns his hand trying to remove a cooking pan from the campfire.
  • An episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air concerned Will, Carlton and Uncle Phil going on one of these. Highlights included Will packing their stuff in the wrong car, Carlton pretending he's Captain Kirk with a tape recorder, and ultimately having to stay in a cave overnight, before Phil deciding to hell with it and go find a Denny's.
    • Another episode began with the preparations for such a trip. Will accidentally breaks a lantern when he inadvertently inflates a rubber raft. While getting money from the ATM to get a new lantern, a robber holds them at gunpoint and shoots Will.

  • "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp)" by Alan Sherman is the classic example. However, at the end of the song, it stops raining. Gee, dat's bettah!
  • The Yes song "South Side of the Sky" sounds like it's obliquely describing something like this. It actually describes the experience of mountain climbing/traversing a tundra and dying of hypothermia, though the way it's written, it's not so obvious how dark the song is.
  • "The Camping Trip" by Ray Stevens on the album Surely You Joust is about one.
  • Kids Praise: From the kids' perspective, this is subverted in the 5th album. They get tired and hot from all the uphill hiking, and two kids get lost at night, but it's really only their attitude that gets in the way of having fun, and Psalty's well aware of this and keeps encouraging the kids so that they will have fun and grow from the experience.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Bill Watterson did this a few times in Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin's dad drags the family along on a camping trip.
    • On one trip, it rained nonstop and didn't stop until Dad, having decided to pack it in and go home, had finished loading the car. Cue Face Palm (and then shouting words that Calvin didn't understand).
    • On the next trip, Calvin dropped a bag of supplies (including the camera) in the lake; when Calvin's dad dove down to retrieve them, he accidentally put them on his glasses, shattering them. Calvin and Hobbes decide to wait until he is in a better mood to tell him he left the car's headlights on before launching their canoe.
    • It's mentioned Dad takes them on these trips every summer, in spite of Mom and Calvin openly hating them. Dad on the other hand, seems to enjoy the great outdoors no matter how many bad things happen on every trip. One comic however had him explain he takes them on those trips every summer instead of a cruise or more enjoyable vacation so the rest of their year will feel better by comparison, but given his habit of sarcasm it's hard to say if he's being serious about that. Then again, since he is the Trope Namer for Misery Builds Character...
  • Any of Roger's family camping trips in FoxTrot. In one instance, the kids (and mother) notably cheered louder for the news that they wouldn't be able to go on that year's trip due to some circumstances of Roger getting his job back, than for the news of his re-hiring itself. Usually they attempt to find some sort of excuse to get out of it, such as trying to cram the car with luggage (with some of them being filled with nothing but packaging peanuts) just so there wouldn't be enough room in the car to accommodate them, and taking Roger's attempts at encouraging via exact words and exploit them to delay the camping trip.
    • Perhaps the crowning example is the Skeeter Falls trip. As the name implies, the campsite is near a waterfall which acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and the ever ignorant Roger books the vacation when the mosquito population is at its peak. They have their own personal ranger only because they are the only campers there, and are surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes all day and night (having forgotten to pack insect repellent). The only natural attraction in the area is a geyser which goes off at 3:38 am and is two hours' walk from the campsite. To make matters worse, a bear gets into their campsite, and Roger is too busy marvelling at it to notice that it has eaten all of their food except for half a bag of gummi-worms and three mini pretzels. Instead of taking the logical choice of leaving camp early, Roger decides they'll simply catch and eat fish for every meal, which very quickly wears on Andy and the kids. Roger remains so oblivious to the rest of his family's misery that when he shows Andy a bumper sticker (given by their ranger as a parting gift) reading "I left my [blood] at Skeeter Falls", which he alone finds hilarious, Andy wonders if they have one saying "I left my husband at Skeeter Falls".
    • Roger also took the family to a desert campsite called Cactus Flats. In the middle of August. For two weeks. Even worse, a news report featuring said desert mentions that it's the hottest it's ever been — it's so bad that Peter Arnett (a Real Life reporter famous for his coverage of both Gulf Wars) was sent to the scene and he quit his job just so he could leave the desert as soon as possible. When the family finally gets to the desert, the only source of entertainment they can find is watching Jason play Tetris on his Gameboy. When the family gets ready to leave, Andy nearly strangles Roger after he offhandedly says "see you soon" to Cactus Flats, livid that he might take them there again.
    • Yet another one combined with Macho Disaster Expedition: Roger goes on a boys-only trip, and tries to wake his sons up at two in the morning to go fishing. When they refuse, he goes alone, saying some of them will be eating fish tonight. Cut to...
      Peter: Are you sure you don't want any canned tuna, Dad?
      Jason: It's pretty good if you spread it on a cracker.
      Roger: I'm not hungry.
  • The Family Circus did this twice - once in the 70s, and modified and rerun again in 2009.
  • Garfield has been forced to go an a few of these.
  • Dilbert has also gone on one - to Clyde Canyon, which turned out to be a three foot hole in the ground. After spending the weekend sitting in the hole, Dilbert and Dogbert learn that the real Clyde Canyon was just over the next ridge. They decide it probably isn't worth developing their photographs of the trip.
  • For Better or for Worse: John and Phil went on a canoeing trip that becomes this after being stranded for several days on an island during a storm. Elly and Georgia also struggled to conduct the rescue mission and comfort a scared Michael and Elizabeth.

  • Our Miss Brooks: "Weekend at Crystal Lake" sees Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton and eventually Walter Denton join the Conklins at their cabin on Crystal Lake. Features mishaps such as Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton's motorboat motor getting stuck and forcing the Conklins to abandon their rowboat and jump in the water, Miss Brooks burning supper by piling the barbecue charcoal on top of the ribs, and, finally, the Conklins spending their anniversary in separate rooms as Walter Denton's appearance mean the boys and girls each get a room in the the two-bedroom cabin.
  • One episode of King Street Junior involved a school camping trip. By the end of it, each of the four teachers present had suffered an accident.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

    Video Games 
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 2, Lan decides to go on a camping trip with his friends out of boredom. First, they run into a swarm of bees. After dealing with that, they soon run into a malfunctioning electronic bear in which Lan sends MegaMan to go delete the virus that is causing it to malfunction. Finally, they find themselves in the middle of an internet terrorist plot to blow up the nearby Okuden dam.
    • Rehashed in KnightMan/MagnetMan's chapter in Battle Network 5, with a fishing trip, a cave, and a giant mining drill.
  • As mentioned above in the anime section, the school camping trip in Persona 4 quickly turns miserable for the main characters; highlights include such moments as the introduction of "Mystery Food X", and a swimming incident that the guys desperately try to forget.

    Web Animation 

  • The aftermath of a Horrible Camping Trip interferes with the game in this Full Frontal Nerdity strip.
  • One is planned in Gunnerkrigg Court, when the teachers take the students out into the woods in the rain. Then pretend there's an emergency and retreat to their luxurious home while something lurks in the woods. The kids quickly figured out it's "the kind of thing adults would do to make a trip more interesting" and devised a counter plan. At the end of it the adults have been tricked outside and the kids are safely indoors protected by laser cows.
  • Ben and his family from Loserz once go on such a trip. Maybe not as bad as other examples on this page, although bees are still involved.
  • Gets a passing reference in The Order of the Stick from Vaarsuvius, upon visiting a forested area: "My parents took me camping here once. I loathed it."
  • Played with in the "Camp Maple" arc of The World of Vicki Fox. Vicki takes Meredith camping for the first time; Vicki enjoys it, but since Meredith prefers her creature comforts, she doesn't start having fun until they leave the site and start staying at the lodge.

    Web Original 
  • An entire episode of the Italian Web Series Insopportabilmente Donna by Tess Masazza is dedicated to one. At least, it is an horrible trip in her view.

    Western Animation 
  • Rocko's Modern Life, "Hut Sut Raw": Rocko, Heffer, and Filbert go camping, but Rocko quickly gets tired of the tame, dumbed-down camping experience at the local trailer park and convinces his friends to "rough it". It ends with the trio lost, cold, starving, and ultimately chased back to civilization by angry shrews.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Camp Keep a Good Mac Down", where in the time it takes to walk from the camp to the campsite, Bloo eats all of the food, then finds blueberries. On the way back to the campsite he eats them all to test that they're safe, then drinks all of their water trying to wash the taste out. Herriman's no help either, keeping the others from putting up a tent by repeatedly criticizing every inconsequential detail and then having them tear it down. By the end, Mac swears to never go camping again.
  • Kim Possible, "Camp Wannaweep", after their bus breaks down. Ron saves the Cheersquad from a mutant human/fish-monster... which turns out to be a former camper who fell in the toxic lake. Then again, that camp was traumatizing in general.
  • The Simpsons has had several over the years.
    • Season 1's "Call of the Simpsons"note  has Homer's new RV fall off a cliff, and after a string of disasters, he eventually ends up covered in mud and mistaken for Bigfoot. On the other hand, Marge and Lisa (who were asked to just stay put while Bart and Homer searched for help) were able to clean up their camping site and turn it downright paradisiacal (and Maggie, who had been missing and taken by bears, turned out to have been found by "kind" bears).
    • The Season 4 opener, "Kamp Krusty", showed Bart and Lisa going to the title summer camp, which turns out to be a badly run-down place guarded by Krusty's heartless accountant Mr. Black and the school bullies Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney. After the campers are forced into working in a sweat shop, enduring natural hazards of all kinds and miserable living conditions, and being subject to Barney Gumble dressed as Krusty, Bart gets fed up and leads a rebellion against the suit running the camp.
      Lisa: [writing a letter back to Marge and Homer] Dear Mom and Dad, I no longer fear hell because I've been to Kamp Krusty. Our nature hikes have become grim death marches. Our arts-and-crafts center is, in actuality, a Dickensian workhouse. Bart makes it through the days relying on his unwavering belief that Krusty the Clown will come through, but I am far more pessimistic. I am not sure if this letter will reach you, as our lines of communication have been cut. Now, the effort of writing has made me lightheaded so I close by saying, save us, save us now! Bart and Lisa.
      Homer: [chuckles] Ah, kids' letters from camp.
      Marge: She complains now, but when we go to pick her up, she won't wanna leave.
    • In "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" from Season 5, a river rafting trip results in Bart, Homer, Ned Flanders, and Rodd Flanders stranded at sea after Homer loses the map of the river. Thankfully, their lives are saved when they run into an offshore oil rig that just happens to have a Krusty Burger franchise aboard (which was about to close as the oil rig was unmanned and therefore had no potential customers).
  • Daria:
    • "The Teachings of Don Jake" — The family go on a camping trip, get lost, then Jake, Helen and Quinn eat psychotropic berries and go crazy. Daria saves the day when she finds the cell phone hidden in her mother's bag and has the family airlifted to safety.
    • There was also the class mountain retreat which included a snowstorm (the season four episode "Anti-Social Climbers").
  • One episode of Danny Phantom renders a mandatory camping trip for Danny and Maddie when they are stranded in the forest. Maddie does fine, but Danny is a complete dunce at it. This hatred is taken with the actual camping trip episode where the only one visibly excited is Sam. Unfortunately, the trip is a typical disaster when nearly all the students and faculties are kidnapped by ghosts. By the end though, Danny realizes camping has its merits and enjoys it.
  • King of the Hill:
    • "Phish and Wildlife", where Hank takes Bobby with him and the guys on a camping trip. All is well until an army of hippies show up for "The Gathering".
    • Also, the "Order of the Straight Arrow" episode. It's one of the more benign examples, but something did go bad: Bobby allegedly killing the whooping crane he thought was a snipe and everyone trying to ditch the body while escaping the law and a group of nature-loving hippies.
  • In at least four episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "The Camping Episode", where Squidward is continually attacked by a sea bear.
    • In the survival episode where SpongeBob and Patrick fall out of the back of Sandy's truck and must fend for themselves.
    • In the episode with the conch shell ("Club SpongeBob") where SpongeBob and Patrick do fine, but because Squidward doesn't believe in the powers of the conch shell, he's not allowed to eat anything.
    • "Nature Pants", where SpongeBob tries to live in the wild with the jellyfish, with disastrous results.
  • In the KaBlam! episode "The KaBlair! With Project", Henry, June, Mr. Stockdale, Mr. Foot, Henry's mom and Jimmy McGee go on a company camping trip, but they hear the loud roar of a bear and Mr. Foot freaks out and escapes in the camper, leaving everyone else stranded.
  • Hey Arnold! has two horrible camping trips:
    • In "Roughin' It", Arnold and Gerald are taught by Grandpa Phil camping the old-fashioned way, much to their chagrin. Meanwhile at a adjacent camping spot, Helga and Phoebe live high on the hog as Big Bob Pataki tests out the high-tech (but cheap) camping gear that he plans to sell. When the gear fails the kids and Big Bob during a hike in the woods, Arnold saves the day by applying the survival skills Phil taught him earlier to get back to camp.
    • In "Fishing Trip", Gerald, Sid, Harold, and Eugene (and their dads), Arnold and Grandpa Phil head to the woods for a fishing trip. After failing to catch any fish and losing their provisions to a bear (except for cans of beans), the boys (and their fathers/grandfather) are all miserable, but refuse to tell the others for fear of disappointing them. After much suffering, they finally admit this to each other and decide to to to the nearby resort for a not-so-back-to-nature trip (with a performance by Davy Jones.) Ironically, the reverse ending to the first camping trip.
  • Jimmy Neutron, his friends, and his dad went camping in the episode "Augh! Wilderness". Unfortunately, his dad won't let Jimmy bring his gadgets and wants to rough it. After an explosion, it gets worse.
  • In the Flintstones/Bewitched crossover this was played straight for Fred and Barney. Not so much for Wilma, Betty and Sam, who got a little help from Sam's magic.
    • Another episode had the Flintstones go on a camping trip, and their picnic basket gets stolen by none other than Yogi Bear!
  • Moral Orel has Orel going on the worst camping trip ever with his father resulting in probably the darkest episode of the show. And then it just got darker... The culminating moment was when his father, in a drunken rage, shoots him in the leg! Then drank the rubbing alcohol that could have kept Orel's leg from getting worse. Then passed out for two days while Orel suffered. Then denied shooting Orel, saying that since he didn't remember it, it wasn't his fault. And was only concerned that Orel killed a bear rather than his son's well-being. And, months later, admitting (in front of the town no less) that he was glad he shot Orel. Yeah, it's that kind of show.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: The infamous "The Mean 6" has the main characters (minus Spike, for some reason) plus Starlight Glimmer having a camping trip in the Everfree Forest, which nearly gets ruined by their evil clones coming out of nowhere and being led to thinking the ponies are doing mean things out of nowhere which almost ruins their friendship until Twilight resolves it all. Even their campsite is ruined, to which they claim was their worst day ever and laugh it off.
  • The Barney Bear short "Bah, Wilderness" had Barney suffering such indignities as a malfunctioning phonograph, noisy nighttime animals, and a flash flood while trying to sleep during a camping trip.
  • Garfield and Friends
    • One episode has them going on a camping trip, against Garfield's wishes. They end up chased by a bear and have to keep dancing and singing to keep the bear entertained. They end up doing this late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning, and Garfield sadly notes that of all the times he's been camping with Jon, this is the best time he's ever had.
    • One of the Garfield specials had a trip which wasn't too terrible at first, but took a sharp detour into nightmare alley when Jon and Garfield almost got eaten by an escaped black panther.
    • "Mistakes Will Happen" has the trio going on a trip to the woods and various hijinks including being stalked by an escaped convict and Jon absolutely failing at scaring his pets with a Bedsheet Ghost when they ignore his warnings to be careful while hiking. Keep in mind though that this was only the subplot; as the title implies, the main plot was to point out the many, deliberate continuity errors that were displayed throughout the episode.
  • Kick Buttowski gets "Those Who Camp, Do" in which Kick, currently obsessed with a Survival-style TV show, decides to camp on his own out in the forest rather than the family's camping site. Kick, being who he is, takes on every challenge the wilderness has to offer him like a boss... however, his older brother Brad goes through his worst nightmare while tagging along.
  • Regular Show:
    • "Camping Can Be Cool". Nobody thought to bring matches, Rigby intentionally forgot the tent and accidentally forgot the tarps, Mordecai locked the keys in the car and the park rangers showed up to yell at them for camping in a restricted area. Then it started to rain. And then Deer Man showed up...
    • In "Survival Skills," Benson tries to teach the gang about surviving in the wilderness. Benson asks Mordecai and Rigby to buy tortillas for their barbeque, but when the two become lost, they embark on a crazy woodland adventure to get back to the campsite. After what seems like days lost in the wilderness, they finally make it back, only to find out that it's only been a few hours, and they were just hallucinating out in the woods just beyond the campsite. Whenever one of the other park employees tried to go get them, they'd freak out and run off.
  • Spoofed on the South Park episode "I Should Not Have Gone Ziplining", which is presented as a I Shouldn't Be Alive-type show with shots of the boys screaming in horror. The horrible part of the trip, however, is how horribly BORING the boys found it. So much that Kenny dies of boredom.
  • The Total Drama Island episode "The Sucky Outdoors" features an overnight camping trip as the challenge. One team spends the night treed by a bear and in a driving rain; the other team must also spend the night in the rain after their tent is burned down; and Katie and Sadie, who get separated from their team, must spend the night in a cave. (But they, at least, don't get rained on.)
  • Bob's Burgers has two examples so far.
    • In "A River Runs Through Bob" the Belcher family goes with Tina for a make-up camping trip because she was sick when her Thunder Girls troop went. An ill-considered late-night skinny dip leads to Bob and Linda getting washed downstream and separated from the kids, and their problems are compounded by the fact that Bob insists he's a master outdoorsman when he very much isn't.
    • In "The Reeky Lake Show" the Belchers rent a cabin for Labor Day weekend. It has no power or water, the lake is contaminated with giardia, and worse of all, they are trapped inside by a huge swarm of biting insects.
  • In The Proud Family episode "Camping Trip" the Prouds, the Boulevardezes and friends go on a camping trip which quickly spirals into calamity when their RVs are swept away in a flood. For Oscar and Felix it gets worse from there, as they're forced to climb up a mountain, end up getting attacked by a yeti, a bear, and a squirrel, and somehow end up in a Lost World untouched by time and captured by a mother pterodactyl.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Primal", Grizz is inspired by a video ad for Badger in the Wild (an obvious parody of Bear Gryllis's Man vs. Wild) to "rough it" with his brothers Panda and Ice Bear. Apparently, this means dragging his brothers into the woods unannounced and unprepared, with no food or supplies to speak of (even throwing away a candy bar Ice Bear had smuggled along) and trying to live off the land with no training or even the vaguest idea of what he's doing. Grizz ends up stealing food from some human campers but gets caught and chased off, while Panda and Ice literally go mad with hunger. In the end, Grizz has to drag his maddened brothers to a conveniently-located fast food joint and buy them combo meals.
  • Kaeloo: The episode "Let's Play Treasure Hunt" had the main four go on a camping trip. First, upon reaching the campsite, they find out that Stumpy unpacked their sleeping bags, flashlights and other necessary items so he would have room for his comic books. Then, they play treasure hunt in the forest to make the trip fun. Mr. Cat changes all the clues so the others wind up doing stupid things and getting hurt.
  • In Home Movies the kids go on a mandatory camping trip supervised by Coach McGuirk, who expected the kids to bring the food and only brought raw turkey and makes the kids give him $20. McGuirk cuts the trip short when Eugene pees in his canteen and tries to leave the kids in the woods as punishment, but stops when Brendon points out hed get fired if he did.
  • The Ice Age short "Surviving Sid" features a troop of young animals going on a camping trip with the titular sloth as their scoutmaster. Being Sid, he causes several messes from getting lost in the woods to causing a chain reaction which creates the Grand Canyon, and this ends with the kids tying him up in annoyance.
  • F is for Family: The Murphy's rent a lakeside cabin for summer vacation in season 3, only to discover when they arrive that the cabin is run-down and left open (a pair of geese have gotten in and are mating on the dinner table), the lake outside is badly contaminated, and naturally, it starts raining the second they get out of the car and doesn't let up for the entire time they stay there.

Ice fishing (the car keys will be dropped in the hole)

  • Patrick McManus again. He wrote more than once about engaging in this pastime with his childhood mentor Rancid Crabtree; on one memorable occasion they build a fishing shack with a sail, to steer it around the lake. Rancid tries to steer the shack from inside, which of course triggers a sudden blizzard with hurricane-strength winds.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Home Improvement: They manage not to catch any fish despite it being one of the most successful trips ever for their neighbors; it turns out Tim's cologne is getting on the bait and repulsing them. Then Tim burns the shack down after falling through the ice and being forced to borrow Al's clothes. And he lost the car keys.
  • Frasier and Niles agree to go ice fishing with Martin after Duke has to back out of the trip. Sure enough the keys go into the water stranding them in the cabin...until the Sheriff arrives to tell them they aren't allowed to spend the night on the ice and escorts them to a nearby motel.
  • That '70s Show, but they one-up it and drop the car in the lake.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has an example where they're trapped in the shed by a bear.
  • Good Luck Charlie features the fishing pole being dropped in the water. They get it back when Teddy falls in the hole.
  • Mishaps and accidents came with the territory on Fishing with John, but the episode guest-starring Willem Dafoe stands out as a special example. Willem and John go ice-fishing in Maine in the middle of January, despite having no idea how to do it, bringing only a few cheese crackers to eat if they can't catch a fish. Their tent isn't warm enough and they didn't bring enough blankets. Finally...
    Narrator: On January 19th, John Lurie and Willem Dafoe died of starvation.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Fry falls into the ice, catches a cold, and this results in New New York almost getting thrown into a sun because the people of the future have cured the common cold and thus have no immunity against it, resulting in a city-wide pandemic.


Camping in the Dump

Fergy and Paulie go camping with Langston the dump.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CampingEpisode

Media sources: