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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Summer Camp

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


August 20, 2022

Do they sing “Hello mother, hello father” in summer camp anymore? The song made popular by Allan Sherman the summer of 1963 highlighted a list of terrible circumstances one camper was having at summer camp. In the end the rain stopped, the sun came out and the fun began. Never mind, said the kid in the song to his parents. He decided to stay.

Summer camp usually involves some adjustments. In the graphic novel “Camp” by Kayla Miller, you get a pretty typical idea about camp life and the trials and triumphs of young campers, some away from home for the first time. Friendships are made, destroyed, repaired. Challenges are feared and faced. Food is important. Weather is dicey with sudden summer storms. But in the end, most kids are glad they attended camp and remember those memories for a lifetime.

In the young adult genre, “The Summer we Forgot” by Caroline George, a group of teenagers are brought together after attending camp on a previous summer. The author says it best when speaking of her own writing: “The book is an ode to growing up. It examines the memories (and people) we hold onto and the ones we’re desperate to let go. It explores the comforting and eerie sides of nostalgia. And it asks the question, are we more of what we remember or what we forget? Do our mistakes – our histories – define us? We’re all in the coming of age story. Maybe now is the time to exhume our deepest and darkest from their hidden places. Then again, perhaps some memories are better left forgotten.” Reading this book definitely evokes exploring the past and might become a catalyst to the reader’s own summer memories as well as the plight of the characters in the story. There is also a mystery involved, a death with a body floating in a marsh. Summer mysteries are always fun, right?

For history lovers, “The Lost Summer” speaks of a different type of camp. Memories of an earlier summer sustains a soldier of war in 1914. The summer takes place in France, visiting at the home of a family friend. There is peace and beauty and the chance to fall in love. In contrast, the story then turns toward fall, war and battle trenches where Michael Davies tries to hold onto his summer memories. Be prepared for war to be written in bitter and bleak passages and the ravages of war blunt and horrific. Life is not always kind but memories can be a saving grace.

The American space camp is held in Huntsville, Alabama in the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Just like music camps, cheerleader camps and football camps, Space Camp provides an intense program, this one focused on the stars. Kids and adults come and stay for educational programs, including aviation, space exploration and robotics. Over 900,000 campers have graduated from the programs and several have actually become astronauts. As all camps, this one allows the campers to expand their individual talents and experience an immersion into things they love best, the stars and beyond.

Alexander Monir writes about camp and the hope of making new memories, but in a more extreme and necessary circumstance. In “The Final Six” hope weighs heavily upon six teens in Space Training Camp. The plan is to take the six chosen campers to one of Jupiter’s moons in order to establish a new human colony. There are 24 space candidates competing. Training tests their limits. Survival of the fittest involves not just physical but also mental stamina, and the ability to work well with others. While life on earth continues to crumble away, the idea of life on Europa starts to take shape in their minds. But first, they must wade through a mire of mystery, romance, betrayal and heavy decisions. “The Life Below,” book two in the series, continues the adventure forward, with more books expected to follow. This series has been well received by both older teens and adults.

Day camps offered by schools and churches are another option and a way to make new friends and summer memories. In my childhood, the kids who didn’t get to go away to camp created their own neighborhood camps to fill the long summer days. They made their own rules, set their own agendas and had great fun with little adult supervision. They had to go home every once in a while for the facilities and to grab a sandwich, but gathered again until moms started to call them to dinner. They performed plays and tapped danced, made up numerous games, and if allowed, played hide ’n seek way into the dark. Whether camp involves swimming, crafts, music, sports or saving the world, it can be both an intense and satisfying experience. Summer provides the months to explore possibilities, stretch wings and try something new. Summer is magical, no matter what camp is attended. And not just for kids! So as the last days of summer wane, I hope you don’t miss out!

Good books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


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