March 2020

Welcome to Camp Tellastory!

A Literal Look at Books About Summer Camps

…playing baseball, gee that’s bettah
Mudder, Faddah, kindly disregard this letter.


By Jaq Greenspon

Let’s have a big round of applause for our camp choir and that rousing rendition of a timeless classic! (as the applause dies down) And now it’s time to welcome you all to this first session of the summer here at Camp Tellastory. As you know, I’m your camp director and over the course of the next few minutes I’m going to be giving you an overview of what you can expect and who’ll be joining us this summer.

Summer camps are an institution here in America, well over 100 years old, and the traditional image of camp you might have, you know, rowing and hiking, arts and crafts, or, as the song says, swimming and sailing, are all still around. Summer camps, both sleepover and day camps, are also moving into all sorts of other specialties. You can now go to camps to learn sports, do STEM work or follow other academic pursuits, or even find a camp which corresponds to your religious, political, or sexual identity. And each of these camps and campers have their own stories to tell. But don’t worry, we’ll get to all of them!

If this is your first time here, you’re going to make friends that last a lifetime. The kinds of friends you’ll return to time and again to remind you of good, if challenging, times. If you’re a returning camper or have graduated up to counselor or CIT, Counselor In Training, welcome back! If you’re a parent just waiting around to see how your kids are fitting in and want to make sure they’re being recognized for who they are and what they have to offer, don’t worry, they’re fine. And you can reminisce along with us as I introduce everyone and hand out bunk assignments…before you say your goodbyes and head on home.

First, our counselors. Here are the older kids, heck, they may even be adults. These are the ones who have been through the process already and are here to tell the tales and guide the younger ones along the paths. They may also remind you of your own times being away from home.


On Blackberry Hill by Rachel Mann – A mother and daughter attend the same Jewish camp 20 years apart. Will this shared journey bring them closer together… or drive them apart?

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – Starting in 1974, 6 teenagers meet at a summer camp and instantly become inseparable. But can those bonds last? This story follows them all through the trials and tribulations of growing up and what being an adult actually means.

Perrenials by Mandy Berman – Being best friends doesn’t mean you always agree. And as these two best friends, who work together as counselors at a summer camp discover, sometimes it’s harder to love than let go.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager – Two truths and a lie is a popular camp game. But sometimes, the stakes can be much higher than anticipated. When a group of girls disappears, it’s up to the last person who saw them to return to the scene and discover the truth, no matter the cost.

Cabin Pressure: One Man’s Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor by Josh Wolk – What happens when a grown man returns to the site of his fondest childhood memories? A wry, clear-eyed, and laugh-out-loud look at the transition to adulthood.

Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien – Sometimes redemption is found when you can look backwards and forwards at the same time. And sometimes that redemption comes from a romance you never expected.

Next up, our CITs. These young adults are just on the verge of…well, everything. This is where you’ll find yourself being challenged with the change from kid to grown-up.


Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – Four 17 year-old former friends experience a bit of magic when they are given the chance to go back a couple of years and see how it all went wrong – and just maybe try and set it right.

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita – Becoming a CIT at Whispering Pines Sleepaway camp starts off as a desperate move to get away from it all. But over the course of the summer, Sam will understand that making friends is better than hiding from them.

Holes by Louis Sacher – Stanley Yelnats got in trouble and was sent to a correctional “camp” where all the boys had to dig holes. Soon, he realized there was more to it than just building character, but what could be hidden at the bottom of a dry lake bed?

Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally – Returning to Cumberland Creek summer camp as a counselor, Kate just wants to forget her life outside of summer. But then things get complicated, especially when she sees how Matt has filled out and taken an interest…in her.

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth – A modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing set at a summer camp brings the bard delightfully into line with modern sensibilities.

Now we have the specialty cabins. The great thing about Camp Tellastory is that we welcome everyone. There’s a place for the artistically minded, where pictures tell as much of the story as words. A place where, if reality is a bit boring, we can bring in spaceships and ancient gods to liven things up. And finally, we have the most elusive of all things; a safe place for campers to just be themselves and find others of a like mind.

Graphic cabin

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson – Friendship to the Max! This open ended storyline, about 5 best girl-friends spending time at the supernatural and super weird Lumberjane summer camp, has already reached more than 60 issues.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol – All Vera wants to do is fit in-but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. A Russian summer camp might be the answer, but then, drama can show up, no matter the culture!

Camp by Kayla Miller – Olive and Willow are best friends and going to camp together should be just about perfect. When it’s not, though, their friendship is going to start to fray at the edges…hopefully they’ll still be friends when summer is over.

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash – All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor.

Chiggers by Hope Larson – at camp this year, Abby just wants to hang out with Rose, her friend from last year. But Rose is older and doesn’t have the time so Abby is going to have to make some tough choices and find friends based on what she needs, not what others say.

Fantasy Cabin

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Books) by Rick Riordan – When Percy Jackson discovers he’s the actual son of the Greek god Poseidon, he ends up at a summer camp for other demi-god kids having to prove his mettle. And that’s just the beginning of his many adventures!

Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak – Magical realism takes hold in the summer camp owned by Quinn’s family. But when tragedy strikes her first love, Quinn has to learn trust herself and trust love again. And the camp might be the way through all the darkness.

Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy – When 25 girls show up to start their time at camp, what they get is nothing like normal. Divided into 5 cabins, they each must face their own trials and supernatural encounters until they come together to try and defeat their enemy together.

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein – In the future, a group of students are sent through a portal to an alien planet where they have to use their training to survive for two weeks. But when the rescue never comes, what was a fun adventure just might become a permanent home.

Six Moon Summer by S.M. Reine – Rylie is just your typical girl. She’s not keen on summer camp, her parents are getting divorced, and, oh yeah, she was just bitten by a werewolf. Now, if she doesn’t find a cure, she’ll become a monster by the end of summer.

Feeling like an outsider Cabin

Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (adoption) – Julia was adopted from a Chinese orphanage and now she’s at summer camp with her “Chinese sisters,” girls who were adopted from the same place. Sometimes, shared background doesn’t make you friends, but camp does.

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas (LGBT) – At camp, Riya runs into Courtney, her former best friend and the girl who broke her heart after they shared an amazing kiss. Now, they’re sharing a cabin and must figure out if what they had was real or should they let it go.

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer (LGBT) – Being 12 is hard for Avery and Bett. They’re complete opposites whose dads have just fallen in love and sent them to summer camp together in hopes they’ll become friends…and maybe sisters.

How to Survive a Summer by Nick White (LGBT) – Camp Levi is not a fun summer camp. Instead, it’s a “conversion” camp, designed to cure young gay men of their homosexuality. It’s been abandoned, but Will, who was there when he was younger, must revisit the camp in order to reclaim what was taken from him.

That Feeling When by S.M. James (LGBT) – Archie is a normal, sullen teenager. Landon is a teen Hollywood heartthrob. But when they meet at summer camp, it sparks an unexpected friendship, but could that blossom into something more?

Well there you go! I hope that answers your questions and gives you something to think about. Just remember, we had a lot more applications than we had spaces for and there’s always room for more and different tales here at Camp Tellastory. I hope you enjoy your time here among the leaves and we look forward to seeing you next summer and every summer from now on!

Share this Article