Books about sleep-away Camps

Books About Sleep-away Camps

At sleep-away camp, kids often develop new skills and revel in greater independence as they learn to meet the challenges of an environment very different and far from home. Homesickness, new friends, worry, laughter, unexpected thrills and a growth in self-confidence are frequently part of the experience, as these books reveal.

Preteens

Heidi Heckelbeck Goes to Camp!

By Wanda Coven

Little Simon, 2013, $5.99 pbk.

When might a child be ready for sleep-away camp? It depends on the child, of course, but those as young as 7 or 8 may be ready for the adventure. Youngsters curious about camp or preparing for their first experience might enjoy curling up with this illustrated chapter book for ages 7 to 9. Heidi is excited about her first summer at Camp Dakota, till she finds herself excluded by girls who have attended the camp before. What should she do? Dealing with the shifting emotions of others is often a challenge for campers, but Heidi talks about what’s happening with a sympathetic counselor and speaks up for herself in a playful story that models resilience and creative problem solving.

Camp

By Kayla Miller

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, $24.99

In this lively graphic novel for ages 8 to 12, best friends Olive and Willow navigate Camp Lake Acorn very differently. Gregarious Olive is eager to try new activities and chat with others; shy Willow wants to spend time only with Olive. Soon the two are arguing and then spending the day apart. With the help of supportive counselors, the girls begin to realize that they can each embrace their own interests while remaining friends. Readers are sure to relate to both girls and to the occasional knots in a friendship that may need patience and understanding to unravel. The colorful panels give kids a glimpse into the life of a sleepaway camp, with cabins, bunk beds, friendship bracelets, outdoor activities and toasting marshmallows.

Nerd Camp 2.0

By Elissa Brent Weissman

Atheneum, 2014, $17.99

Gabe returns in this sequel to the popular “Nerd Camp,” and he’s hoping to reprise last summer’s great six-week learning experience. But this year there’s an unexpected twist: a wildfire forces the camp attended by his athletic, cool stepbrother Zack to re-locate to the same area as Gabe’s camp. Friction abounds, and soon battles break out between “nerds” and “jocks.” This smart, funny novel alternates point of view between Gabe and Zack, so that the reader can see both sides in the unfolding drama and can try to puzzle out, along with the main characters, how to best deal with an increasingly fraught situation.

Teens

Sunshine

By Jarrett Krosoczka

Scholastic, 2023, $27.99

For those in high school, camp often involves being a counselor, usually starting at a junior level. In this capacity, young people are taking on new responsibilities. They’re managing their own emotions, needs and schedules while also attending carefully to those of the young campers. Jarrett Krosoczka has written an engaging, touching graphic memoir about his time as a teen counselor for seriously ill children and their families. The book takes readers into a camp where young Jarrett helps youngsters go fishing, dress for the costume dance and make and send off wish boats—and comes to a greater understanding of life, hope and himself along the way.

Adults

Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow

By Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

Ballentine, 2012, $18 pbk.

In addition to managing a child’s jitters about sleep-away camp, parents often must contend with their own. What if their child is homesick? Takes unnecessary risks? Forgets about an allergy? Dr. Michael Thompson understands a parent’s ambivalence even as he embraces camp as an important step in age-appropriate independence, resilience and maturation. A clinical psychologist, father, former middle school teacher and author of several acclaimed parenting books, Dr. Thompson provides support and advice in a calm, good-humored voice. Especially helpful are chapter one, which explores eight things you cannot do for your children, and chapter ten on preparing your child emotionally for camp and for those initial forays into the wider world on their own.

Ahhhh! Creative and Funny Family Music

Ahhhh! Creative and Funny Family Music

Family music duo Andrew & Polly’s funny and tender Ahhhh! (nominated for a 2024 Grammy® Award for Best Children’s Album) empowers kids to take on tough stuff by helping them think, feel and sometimes even SHOUT their way through challenges in an ever-changing world. Parents will enjoy it, too, with songs like Danger Baby, a Mission Impossible-esque ode to the transition from worrying over the safety of a precious baby to realizing just how dangerous that child can be! The duo’s arrangements delight with bumping beats, thick vocal harmonies, elegant cello and joyful horns. For all ages, especially 4-10.

–Washington Parent Staff