Stories Around the Camp Fire
With summer just around the corner and the weather improving, summer camp season is almost upon us. This traditional summer activity offers so many possible adventures that it has long been a staple of stories about teens. While there are plenty of other stories set during summer vacation, there is something special about heading away from home for a summer in a cabin or a tent. Whether you are looking for something to read with a flashlight in your cabin after lights out or want to live vicariously, here are some great books about summer camp!
Brain Camp by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan with illustrations by Faith Erin Hicks - When the concerned parents of Jenna and Lucas are told that their children are being invited to spend the summer at Camp Fielding, known for churning out brilliant overachievers, they leap at the opportunity. But once Jenna and Lucas arrive, they realize that not everything is as it seems as campers around them become mindless but superficially smart. Told with just the right mix of creepiness and humor, this book, which appeared on the 2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, is the perfect book for reluctant campers looking for some laughs.
The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini – Perry Eckert just wants to be left alone to play his role-playing game in peace, but when his family decides that he will benefit from a summer away at camp where he can become more social, he ends up at camp in the middle of the forest. While wandering alone in the surrounding area, Perry stumbles upon a portal to a world populated by the Other Normals, beings much like those found in his role-playing game. In this world, he confronts conflicts he could never have imagined and must strive to find his inner hero.
Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault – For reasons that she will never understand, Hélène’s classmates have suddenly turned on her, taunting her and making her life miserable. While dealing with feelings of isolation and a gloominess that has come with it, she retreats into the world of Jane Eyre; but when she discovers that her entire class is going on a camping trip, her stress levels rise even higher. At camp, Hélène learns that not all of her classmates are against her. The artwork in this book perfectly complements the story and helps the reader to connect with Hélène. Whether you typically read graphic novels or not, this is a wonderful book that tackles the difficult topic of bullying.
Paul Has a Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati – Set in Quebec in the 1970s, this graphic novel follows Paul as he is forced to abandon his art and his education due to his poor grades. Though he is expecting a nice relaxing summer break, he instead finds himself as a camp counselor, living in tents and bonding with other teens while he takes care of young campers. Illustrated with a simple style of artwork, this is a fun story of camp and the impact it can have on the lives of both campers and counselors.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Just after finding out that he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon and a mortal woman, Percy Jackson is sent to Camp Half Blood where he meets other descendants of gods. While some may have seen the movie based on this book (which was both a Best Books for Young Adults 2006 and a 2008 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick), it is definitely worth returning to the books themselves not only for the scenes at camp, but also for the character of Percy, who gains confidence over the course of his adventures after years of struggling with learning disabilities.
Hopefully these books have you ready for summer and possibly even a trip to camp. Let me know in the comments if I have missed any other great books about summer camp!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill