As summer begins, it’s possible there is no more ubiquitous experience for American children than summer camp. Whether it’s a day camp or a sleepaway camp, an art or music camp, a Girl Scout or church camp, there are some things that most camps have in common: the outdoors, getting along with other kids and counselors, and new experiences.
Or, as Heather Vogel Frederick writes in her latest Mother-Daughter Book Club book, Mother-Daughter Book Camp, the motto of Camp Lovejoy is “Broadening Horizons for Over a Century.” Girls are encouraged to stretch outside their comfort zones.
When the subject of summer camp comes up among my friends, the discussion turns to crafts learned (macaroni-adorned something), songs sung, injuries sustained, family weekends, and unforgettable counselors.
Mother-Daughter Book Camp captures this experience with spot-on details, the emotions of being away at camp (remember that feeling of homesickness? who were these strangers? how would you make it through [however long you were slated to be there]? how could you ever leave?), the food, the one most memorable experience, and those wonderful friendships.
I’m a big fan of this series of books which began with The Mother-Daughter Book Club, continued with Much Ado about Anne, and continued through to the recent, seventh book, Mother-Daughter Book Camp. We’ve grown to care about these five girls, Emma (the most dedicated reader and writer), Jess (the farm girl and musician), Becca (first a bully, then a friend, highly organized, quilter), Megan (fashionista, blogger, whose mother is obsessed with green and healthy living), and Cassidy (sports, sports, and great love of family). Their mothers are familiar, too, because of Book Club meetings and trips they’ve taken. There are even grandmothers within these stories. I love it when all of the generations are drawn into the story, don’t you? These are five girls who for the most part didn’t know each other before the book club began — and now they’re forever friends.
In each part of the series, the book club discusses a classic book, from Little Women to Anne of Green Gables to the Betsy-Tacy books to the book featured in Mother-Daughter Book Camp, Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The book club shares Fun Facts about the book and the author and so, of course, readers are drawn inevitably to reading the featured book — how can curiosity not engender this result? And the book club is woven skillfully into the larger story, which provides plenty of laughs, a lot of gasps of surprise, and heartwarming tears.
I’ve come to care about these girls, their families, their boyfriends. Each of them is heading off to a different college after being counselors at Camp Lovejoy. The series is done with book seven but I know they’ll stay in touch. Their lives are intertwined. I’m going to miss knowing what happens next.
Heather Vogel Frederick has written characters so vivid that I expect them to walk through my front door, plop down on the couch, and tell me all about their lives. I wish they would.
These books are that good. I highly recommend them for fourth grade readers and older. The characters are in sixth grade when their book club is formed. We watch them grow up, graduate from high school, and spend a special summer together at camp before they head off to the rest of their lives.
I’m grateful that their stories are a part of my life.