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Hess Kramer Gets Wacky

by Rachel Brand

August 15, 2002 | 8:00 pm

Petroleum jelly-covered watermelon relays, gunk-filled balloon popping and prom dress-clad swimming pool races -- not your typical day at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple camp was turned upside down on Tuesday, Aug. 6, when it became the location for the last episode of Nickelodeon's 10-week summer series, "Wild and Crazy Kids" (WACK) -- "WACK at Camp." "WACK," which originally appeared on Nickelodeon between 1990 and 1992, has returned and is even wilder and crazier than before.

The show has a different theme each week, including "WACK on the Farm," and "WACK at the Beach," and features two 15- to 20-member teams of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 going head-to-head in a series of wacky, hybrid sports.

The inspiration came from the experiences of Woody Fraser, the show's creator and executive producer, who is an only child. "When I was a kid I had to keep myself from getting bored," Fraser said.

Some of Fraser's other creations have included "Good Morning America," "Nightline" and TNN's "Ultimate Revenge."

Fraser discovered the Hess Kramer location because a classmate of his 11-year-old son was a camper there. He approached Howard Kaplan, director of Camp Hess Kramer, who consented to the shoot and recruited 10 of his campers, including his son, Ari, to participate. "It would have been all of our campers, but there was a schedule change and we were between sessions," Kaplan said.

Approximately half of the kids who participated in "WACK at Camp" were Hess Kramer campers.

"My dad told me that 'Wild and Crazy Kids' was going to come here and that I would get really messy and I love getting messy, so I thought it would be fun," said Ari Kaplan, 12.

"This is a wonderful use of the camp," said Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. "It showcases the camp beautifully and exposes it to a lot of kids who aren't Jewish."

"Wild and Crazy Kids" airs Mondays at 6 p.m. on Nickelodeon. The "WACK at Camp" episode will air on Sept. 30. -- Rachel Brand Contributing Writer

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