Salute Your Shorts may be one of the best, yet totally forgotten, TV shows from the 90s. Camp Anawanna still holds a special place in our hearts, even if the thought of it makes us wanna fart. The show focused on teenage campers who had to deal with their bossy counselor, and all the shenanigans that happen at summer camp.
The title is a nod to the common camp prank, which involves raising a set of boxer shorts up a flagpole. Kids would then salute the new "flag" as part of the prank.
But even if you watched all 25 episodes of Salute Your Shorts, you may not know these things.
1. Novel Idea
The cult-classic TV show was based off a book written in 1986, called Salute Your Shorts: Life at Summer Camp. The book was co-written by the show's creator, Steve Slavkin. A few years after it was published, Slavkin heard that Nickelodeon was looking for new kid-focused sitcoms so he pitched his book. Network executives loved it and gave him the go-ahead to film a pilot.
2. They Grow Up So Fast
When Slavkin first shot the pilot for Salute Your Shorts, the cast was fairly young. After getting stuck in the development for a year, Slavkin noticed that most of the kids in the pilot ended up looking too old to be in the show anymore. The entire cast, except for one, was recast.
“Donkeylips was the only holdover from the first show,” Slavkin said.
3. Hear No Evil
One of the ways to fill time on the show was to have Dr. Kahn, the camp supervisor, narrate. We never see Dr. Kahn, but his voice may be familiar. It's actually Slavkin himself!
“I would go into editing and the show would be, like, a minute short,” Slavkin explained. To fill the minute, Slavin took stock photography, then would “just sit in a booth and make up stuff right there as the clock was ticking and record it. There was no genius involved—it was literally just to fill up the time.”
4. Au Naturel
At camp, there's no hair and makeup teams, which is why Slavkin decided to do the same for his show. Even when one of the kids had to get braces, it was written into the show.
“I was looking for kids that had no acting experience," he said. "We put almost no makeup on the kids. We wanted their hair crazy, we wanted buck teeth—we wanted them to be kids.”
5. Hidden Meaning
Camp Anawanna is deliberately supposed to sound like "I don't wanna" as a way of representing those kids who may not have enjoyed going to summer camp.
6. Familiar Territory
Venus De Milo had same familiarity with the camp, because she attended an actual summer camp at the same location that a lot of the scenes were filmed at.
"The cool thing was, we’d go to the Batcaves—where they shot the original Batman—and I had already been there," DeMilo recalled. "That feeling of familiarity with the location—it was like camping when we were doing the show.”
7. Healthy Choices
Salute Your Shorts was held to pretty high standards because it was a show for kids, but Slavkin says it was sometimes taken too far.
“We got a note: Can’t have candy.Why? Childhood obesity," he recalled. "So what were we supposed to do? They should sneak out and get fruit. I’ve never seen a kid risking a severe punishment for a ripe tangelo. But if that’s what they wanted, that’s what they would get. So there’s an episode of Salute Your Shorts where the kids sneak out ... for fruit.”
8. Find The Easter Egg
Michael Bower, who plays "Donkeylips" pointed out that there's a rubber chicken with a cigarette in its mouth for a few episodes, and he had a hand in it.
“Danny [Cooksey, who played Bobby Budnick] was a huge Zappa fan,” Blake Sennett who appeared on the show, confirmed. “There was a rubber chicken reference on one of those records. So that’s where the rubber chicken reference came from.”
9. The Kids Are Not Alright
It's a show about camp and the drama that comes with it, but there was also drama off-screen.
“[The cast] enjoyed me, but I don’t think they got my humor, because I was sort of a weird, fat kid,” Bower said. “Tim Eyster [who played Sponge Harris] and me, we had contradicting egos. That was a conflict, sharing a dressing room with him.”
Eyster, who now goes by Trevor, agreed: “I felt very ostracized. For me, going through that geeky, nerdy, awkward prepubescent phase happened in front of the camera. Whether in high school or on set, I was this lanky—well, lanky would imply tall, and I wasn’t even tall—awkward-bowl-haircut mama’s boy with glasses that had a kinda high voice.”
10. History Maker
The iconic theme song to Salute Your Shorts is the only one in television history to include the word "fart." The more you know...