Summer is finally here, and there’s no shortage of recommended reads this season. In honor of Log Cabin Day, we’ve made a list of books that take place at summer camp. Summer camp is an event most people experience at least once in their life, and it’s been the subject of many different kinds of stories. This isn’t surprising, a log cabin on a lake surrounded by dense woods certainly makes for an intriguing setting. With that, here’s our list of 10 remarkable camp stories you need to read this summer.
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is struggling in boarding school. He can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. He just knows his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to murder him. When his mom finds out about the worsening conditions at school, she decides to tell him the truth. She sends him to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods. It’s here Percy finds out his real father is Poseidon, the God of the sea. Soon, a mystery starts to unfold. Along with his friends, one a satyr, the other the daughter of Athena, they journey across the country to prevent a war between the gods.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
While at Camp Nightingale, Emma Davis watches three of her friends sneak out in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. Years later, she is recruited to be an art counselor at the same summer camp. Soon after she arrives, however, it’s apparent that all is not right at there. She discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin along with clues apparently left behind from one of the missing girls. When three more girls go missing, Emma must uncover all of the buried secrets of Camp Nightingale to discover the truth of what happened fifteen years earlier.
The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
Amateur detective and high school student Stevie Bell gets an invitation from the owner of Sunny Pines, previously known as Camp Wonder Falls and the site of an unsolved murder case. He invites her to be on a podcast to discuss the gruesome killings of four camp counselors in 1978. She and her friends agree, looking forward to a summer investigating old true-crime mysteries. Soon, though, it’s apparent that the evil that took the lives of the camp counselors may still be lurking in the woods. Stevie and her friends might not make it out alive.
You Have a Match by Emma Lord
A young girl named Abby signs up for a DNA service, if only to give her friend and love interest, Leo, a nudge. When she gets the results back, though, she discovers she has an older sister, and her name is Savannah Tully. The two decide to meet at summer camp to try to uncover why their parents gave Savannah up for adoption. Adding to the mystery is the fact that Savannah is only a year and a half older than Abby. The two girls discover they’re more different than alike, and that their parents have a secret that could unravel everything.
Hidden by Helen Frost
When she was 8 years-old, Darra Monson’s father steals a minivan with another 8 year-old girl named Wren in the back. The lives of both girls change forever in the hours and days that follow. Years later, the girls meet in a chance encounter while at camp. Both girls were left with questions only the other can answer. Both want to know the truth. But to learn the truth, the whole truth, both girls must reveal stories they’ve kept hidden for years.
The Counselors by Jessica Goodman
Goldie couldn’t be happier when her wealthy, powerful parents drop her off at Camp Alpine Lake, a summer camp for privileged kids like her. It’s the only place she feels safe, a place she’s had a connection with even before she could attend. Now she’s returning as a camp counselor, and she has a dark secret she needs to confess to her friends. When a teen is found dead at the lake, it becomes obvious Goldie isn’t the only one lying. Her friend, Ava, was at the lake when it happened. But Ava isn’t willing to say what she knows.
Flamer by Mike Curato
Aiden Navarro is away at camp the summer between middle and high school. While everybody is going through changes, the changes Aiden is going through are a lot different. He hates boys. He thinks they’re mean, scary, destructive, they’re always saying or doing something dumb. There’s no way he’s gay… right? He hates that word. It makes him feel unsafe. As Aiden navigates friendships and bullies and spends time with a boy he can’t stop thinking about, he starts on a path that leads to self-discovery and acceptance.
Summer of ’99 by J.L. Hyde
In 1999 Quinn Harstead was attending Camp Shady Oaks, a premiere youth summer camp, when tragedy struck. The camp was forced to close after more than four decades. Years later, she decides to pens a novel about the events that occurred there. The book quickly becomes a bestseller and causes the camp and the gruesome events to gain national attention. Twenty-three years later, she’s invited to its grand reopening. She must decide if she will return to discover the truth, or let the secrets of Camp Shady Oaks stay buried forever.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The same summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at an art camp become inseparable. Their bond remains powerful over the decades, even though everything else has changed. The story follows the characters from their teen years through middle age. While some are forced to give up their artistic pursuits in favor of more realistic ambitions, some are wildly successful with their chosen artistic talents. The novel explores themes of fate, friendship, and ambitions in a beautifully written novel.
Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash
15-year-old Maggie has spent every summer at Camp Bellflower for Girls, deep in Appalachia. After a brief moment of physical contact with an older, wiser, and very much female counselor named Erin, she spirals into a pit confusion. The camp’s shooting range is her only saving grace. It seems Erin might like Maggie too, but Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for two girls to fall in love. As their relationship begins to blossom, it seems too much for Maggie or Camp Bellflower to handle.
Summer camp stories can be written in a variety of different genres, from mystery thrillers to LGBTQ+ memoirs. They can be the place a young teenager finds their first love, or the site of gruesome murder. Whether the summer camp experience is generally good or bad, it almost always ends in a captivating story. For more summer reads, visit our article here.