Imagine having your 11-year-old self filmed for a summer at camp. Now imagine having all your tween jubilance and awkwardness air on the Disney Channel a year later.
The camp, where the Embry twins have spent the past four summers, was also featured in the late 1990s version of “Bug Juice.” This most recent version features a sixth-grade girl cabin and a sixth-grade boy cabin. Each cabin was filmed from when the campers woke up through nighttime activities.
The girls say last year was different than previous years or even this year. “People were following us around,” Juliet says. “We had to wear mikes; you had to change your mike battery.”
“We were pretty aware of it,” Scarlett says of the filming.
There were some good things about being the kids who were being filmed. “We got preference on things,” Scarlett says. “We got to be first for stuff.”
Yet, says Scarlett, “They tried to make us have a normal camp experience.”
The producers and film crew weren’t always on the twins, they say, because sometimes they were following other campers around.
The girls and their parents found out “Bug Juice” would be filming the girls about six weeks before camp was going to start. They had the option of not being in the show. If they chose not to, the camp would move them up to the seventh-grade girl bunk instead. A few kids did opt for that, but the Embry twins are into dance and acting. This was exciting to them.
The girls had a Skype interview with producers before they got to camp so that the producers could get a sense of who the film crews would be following around. The campers were also told that they could tell the crews if they didn’t want something to be filmed, Juliet says, “and they would respect that.”
Scarlett says they never felt like they needed to do that.
The girls said they felt like all the campers were being themselves and not putting on a show for the cameras. About half the bunk were returning campers that the girl knew. “I don’t think they acted differently,” Juliet says. “They didn’t seem any different.”
“I didn’t think we did,” Scarlett says.
Mom Shannon Embry has watched a few episodes. “They seem very much like my regular kids,” she says.
The sixth-grade cabins did end up with three extra kids and an extra counselor. The girls say they also had more campers in their cabin on scholarship than usual, which helped make the cabin more diverse. The Embrys say they originally chose the camp after Shannon Embry did research on New England camps because it met her criteria. She wanted it to be co-ed, out of the Texas heat, and include a diverse set of kids, which she says the twins have benefited from every year.
Even with all the cameras and the extra campers, the twins say they were still comfortable in their cabin and they got to meet even more people because of it. They now keep up with their camp friends throughout the year because they now have cell phones and Instagram and they set up Facebook house parties.
The people are the best part about camp, they say. “When you don’t see someone for a year and then you see them … you get to become closer,” Scarlett says. “The show says a lot, they say, ‘it’s like you’re a family.'”
That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of drama last year. There was, but there was also drama this year, too. They noticed in the episodes that they have watched that sometimes the show made something bigger out of a small thing, such as at Vegas night when one of the girls lost all the cabin’s money. The girls understand that the show needed to introduce her as a character. “We were not that upset about it,” Scarlett says, about their friend losing their money.
What they love about camp is all the stuff they get to do, like climb a tower or go water skiing. “You’re encouraged to try new things,” Scarlett says.
“You’re not just sitting around on your phone,” Juliet says. “You actually go out and do stuff that you don’t normally get to do.”
“Bug Juice: My Adventures at Camp”
6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursdays