Book Club Camp

Book Club Camp

The other night at dinner, my daughters were talking about how they wanted to read a book with their friends.

Not just any book—one that nobody had read yet. A really good book, one that would be great to talk about.

And not just any book talk, but fresh, real-time, I just finished that chapter too and I wouldn’t dream of reading ahead talk, where they could finish a section of the book and immediately discuss it. Instant bookish gratification.

But how to make those conversations happen? And how to make sure nobody peaked at what’s to come?

We brainstormed a solution, and now we’re dreaming (and maybe, actually planning) our Book Club Camp for later this summer. For kids (and grown-ups?) who love to read, but actually don’t want to stay inside all summer. (Although if our temperatures hit triple-digits like they have in the past, we might reconsider this last point.)

At our cozy little Book Club Camp, for which we’re imagining a party of four, you read a chapter, discuss, and take a walk. (Maybe at the same time.) Read a chapter, discuss, have a snack. Read a chapter, discuss, throw water balloons. Read a chapter … you get the idea.

Here’s what I want to know: does this actually exist? Have you been to one? Do you know about one? What would YOU want to do at Book Club Camp?

Thanks for bookishly brainstorming with me! I can’t wait to hear your ideas in comments. 

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83 comments

  1. Ginger says:

    Like a IRL MMD Book Club. Immediate gratification. 🙂

    I say no camp is complete without sleeping bags for a slumber party, staying up late talking about the book (or maybe watching the movie version), and maybe some bookish charades for silliness.

  2. Stephanie says:

    This would be so amazing! I will be daydreaming about this all day…
    If it was too hot to be outside, I would want some place cozy with lots of comfy seating and ice tea readily available.

  3. Susan says:

    Maybe a book-related craft thrown in? The one issue I could foresee is that reading speeds vary. My daughter reads like the wind and would not be cool with putting it down after a chapter and waiting for the less speedy set to finish. She’d need a craft or something else to do while she was waiting or she’d for sure read ahead!

  4. Jen Williams says:

    What if the camp was virtual. You would sign up for “camp” and the paired with people in your area. Then on certain days (you pick which days to attend) you get together with that group to do this? Then the “camp” can be all over the world. You could provide suggested activities and have people post pics to twitter or the MMD bookclub. This will allow everyone to participate regardless of location and they can choose where to host their group. A house, a park, a coffee shop?

  5. Julie Y says:

    What fun! I’d be sure to 1)include book-themed snacks and, 2) midway thru, have all the girls write predictions about how the book will end and put them in a sealed envelope.

  6. Jade says:

    Such a good idea! I wish I did something like this when I was younger! Sadly I didn’t have book reading friends (that did it other than for school). So I did my own thing, going to the library, making sure I randomly selected up to the limit and would challenge myself to read them all (often I did and went back for seconds).

    On a related note, any adults out there that would like to be a buddy reader with me? I’m from Australia so time zone issues are real, but we could work out the rules – I would love to make some bookish friends now that I’m older and even trying to keep up with a relatively small stack from the library is a challenge!

  7. Lori Church says:

    Sounds good! I’ll throw in the info. that Sue Grafton’s new book “Y” is coming out in August!!! Yay!

  8. Hope says:

    I would have loved book club camp as a kid! I’d love it now, too. S’mores should definitely be involved. One of my all-time favorite books (and it’s YA) is “Last Days of Summer” by Steve Kluger. It’s told through letters, postcards, telegrams, etc. so the format takes a little getting used to. A great story!

  9. Ashley says:

    This sounds so great!

    I am envisioning it as an academic sleep-away camp. That way there would be time for hiking and s’mores and pool antics. Also, each cabin could take a turn preparing a meal for the camp based on the book they are reading!

    (I and my parents did not know about academic sleep away camps when I was growing up so I always did athletic ones. They were fun – but one where you read a couple books sounds soooooo delightful! But I think there would have to be some sort of reading-level/reading-speed sorting. Thoughts?)

  10. Kimberly says:

    We’re only 2 hours from you. We’re in. 🙂 Girls ages 10, and 12 (almost 13). Boy aged 8 maybe. My old momma. 😉

  11. Michelle Mings says:

    What about a women’s book club camp? My kids all have just left nest and I would love an “adult” sleepover camp away! I can’t imagine anything more relaxing and fun!

  12. lisa says:

    I am part of a 10 lady member bookclub that meets once a month. I was thinking this might be a great idea for us to sponsor a day book club camp-to get younger girls interested in reading so they could be readers as adults. Any suggestions?

    • Cristin Morgan says:

      Lisa, contact the PTA at your local elementary school, a local Girl Scout Troop, or the Parks and Recreation Department of your town/county. They will be able to help you get a camp started. How fun!!

  13. Kate Green says:

    Love Love Love this idea! some other activity ideas could be: write a letter to the author or a character in the book, draw or paint a picture of a favorite scene, practice lettering with a favorite quote from the book, choose a favorite song that captures each character in the book or each chapter(much like the Playlist booktags you see with Booktubers like this one- full disclaimer!! this is my daughter but she is the sweetest booktuber I know so ✌🏻…https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SUqf8us7moA ) Love this idea and thank you for always spreading the book love ❤️

  14. Lisa says:

    Oh my goshness, I love this so much! I did so something similar when I was teaching, during a 6th grade camp as one of the rotations. I would love to do it again as perhaps a half day camp idea. (9-12pm? 9-1pm?) Depending on the book, I might go in chunks longer than one chapter, if the chapters are too short. In other words, with middle aged kids, I’d probably try to go for an approx. 30 minute chunk of reading at a time, then discuss (might be 2-3 chapters, depending). For a half day camp, I might just have two major sections:
    1). First reading chunk, discuss, then snack.
    2). Second reading chunk, discuss, then some type of fun activity to end the morning.
    Also, one thing I would do differently is insist that the reading time be pretty much quiet. Even though it’s camp, and summer and all, and you want it to be fun (!!), for the reading part, I found the girls couldn’t focus on the reading if some were finishing earlier and then starting to chat. To do it again, I would have a quiet activity available for when they finish reading if the discussion has not yet started. I would also stress that we keep the time pressure off of others finishing because we want everyone to feel comfortable and able to discuss and relax and have fun. With those fun coloring books being so “in” these days, I might think about having something like that available for the early finishers. Let us know how it goes, I’d love to hear!!

  15. Danielle Chaloupka says:

    Perhaps a series of books rather than a single book? My daughter and her cousin are reading a series together right now and they discuss and screech and gasp in between every book. It’s been a week and they’ve gone through two books and two half books, delayed only by Library availability. They get to “catch up” with each other at the end of each book.

  16. Kimberly says:

    Replying again to add…I like the idea of the virtual book club to have lots of kids from lots of places participate, but there’s something special about being together with other girls/kids who love books. So, we probably wouldn’t do a virtual one, but would happily do an onsite one.

    Also, a guide to book clubs for tweens would be cool. In my local community we hosted a book club for homeschool tweens this year. We vacillated between helping them learn how to run a club (what types of questions and such) and letting them have ownership to do it themselves.

    In the end we’ve decided that we’ll give them a question guide next year (that has questions good for starting a discussion about any book) so they don’t get so stuck on “right and wrong” type of questions or yes/no questions.

  17. Heather says:

    Me, too! Me, too! Love the idea. Already thinking of who I could do a Reading Camp with… This is a wonderful idea, although for a busy empty-nester I would be happy to find just an afternoon for a short “camp”, finishing with dinner and a glass of wine.

  18. Soleil says:

    Not exactly what you are describing but my local library used to do something similar when I was growing up. Of course that was ages ago! More current and still not exactly fitting all your criteria , there are the following camps:
    Amherst’s great books summer camp:
    http://www.greatbookssummer.com/programs/intermediate-program/
    Thalia Book Club Camp
    http://www.symphonyspace.org/thalia-book-club-camp
    I love your idea though and may steal it for a book themed birthday party/ get together!

  19. Torrie says:

    I used to teach 7th grade and would do something very similar with my students at the end of the year, when they were all burned out from testing. Basically, each mini book club group would choose a book together (I usually gave them about 15 options to choose from), and decide how many chapters they were going to read within each time frame (in our case, each week). Everybody wrote down which chapters should be read by what point, so everyone was on the same page. Then, every week, a different member of the group was responsible for coming up with some good discussion questions. We talked extensively about what made for good discussion questions—I explicitly had to explain that they couldn’t be questions that were right/wrong, simple yes/no questions, but that often questions that elicited opinions often were the most fun (and that the right “prediction” questions could also be good discussion starters!). For a more informal book club, you could just have a printed or emailed list of suggested discussion questions so people had a general idea of what to do.

    Anyway, I think this is a fabulous idea and can’t wait to hear what y’all come up with!

    http://autodidacticambitions.blogspot.com

  20. Six years ago, when my son was ten, I founded a writer’s camp for kids. The first year we had it in a bookstore, then in another bookstore the following year. The last five times we’ve held it at the home of a bookseller friend, who has two acres in her backyard. Indeed, it’s key to have a mix of indoors and outdoors. Every hour or so the kids go outside to write, in a tree, in a deck chair, overlooking a ravine with deer and turkeys (not at the same time!). And we talk a lot about favorite books and characters as we write our own. “What does (Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Auggie from “Wonder”, Katniss etc) want more than anything?” This helps us answer that question for our own characters. One theme of the camp is writing with the five senses. On “Texture Day” we do a texture scavenger hunt and they love running around looking for the slimiest or smoothest or prickliest texture they can find. But Smell Day is still their favorite–and mine.

  21. Wonderful idea. Some great comments also. As someone who can’t imagine a day without a book, a long time book club member and author of mysteries, I am inspired by your post to see how to develop this idea into a community project.

  22. Kathy Fletcher says:

    I would love love love to be a part of a book club like this.
    Please start one…..i will be right there- well right here….hahah- love your blog!

  23. Tara says:

    I love this! We’re in. 🙂
    This needs a great location. Maybe something rural? Or with a lot of outdoor space. And snacks… lots of snacks… 😉

  24. Kristin says:

    This reminded me of a family reading weekend post from DesignMom: https://www.designmom.com/reading-weekend/
    With 6 kids (and 6 different reading levels) they did a mix of both group and individual reading. I love this idea (my kids are 3 and almost 1 now, so we’re a little ways away) but any idea you can share and discuss books with others sounds wonderful! Summer camp would of course be awesome, but imagine a log cabin or lodge in snowy forest with break activities like sledding, snowy walks or s’mores by the fire. Can’t go wrong either way!

  25. Courtney says:

    I’d like an afternoon tea book club where we all listen to an audiobook while having tea and snacks and then discuss after each chapter. Or, if no audiobook, enough room at the tea table for a book would be great too.

    • Emily Wynn says:

      Oh this sounds delightful! My 11 year old would love this, as she’s such an old soul and has to have her afternoon tea almost every day.

      • Debi Morton says:

        If you’ve ever listened to the podcast From the Front Porch, you may have heard Annie Jones mention that she is in a monthly Book Club in which they all knit while listening to an audiobook. Sounds a little like your tea and books.

        • Mary Jane McNeill says:

          I was going to say this, too, Debi, since The Bookshelf is in my town (Thomasville, GA). Annie has some great ideas for getting readers together.

  26. Jennifer Johnston says:

    My daughter does an audiobook with her cousin through FaceTime. We are in Florida, they are in Ohio. They are six months apart in age (9 and 10 currently). I love that they came up with this on their own because they miss being together (we moved away). I’m not sure how much discussion goes on, might need to encourage that a bit!

  27. Allison says:

    Probably the ONLY type of “camp” I would have been interested in attending as a “tween!” Never liked dirt, rocks, hiking, camping etc.
    Now… totally like the idea of books, tea, sharing ideas on a walk (NOT a hike!) of how it might turn out, a craft, movie night/nights etc.
    Also think this could be done over a weekend maybe? Pick a shorter book (less than 200 pp), and people sign up, find out if there are those in their own city, do a craft, watch a movie, meet for coffee, etc.,and send send in pics to MMD!!!

  28. Mary Ann says:

    So fun!! Tie the snacks/activities in with the story, or act out parts (as appropriate) a la Anne of Green Gables!

  29. Angela says:

    I’d totally join, but be very tempted to read ahead! It sounds a lot like what I hear some children’s ministries do. I haven’t done it with my own ministry team, but I’ve heard that some would pick a ministry-relevant or leadership book and read it chapter by chapter. Then they meet once a week or two to discuss and possible implement an idea. Read, meet, discuss/implement. And so on.

  30. Courtney says:

    I have no idea what a kids book club camp would look like BUT I do know what I would like an adult camp to look like! Shade,hammocks,blankets to lay on, pillows, lamps for night, and lots of silence. It would be great to occasionally have discussion time throughout the day! Oh, and really good food would be a must!

  31. Laurel says:

    I love this idea! Or for kids that knit / crochet, you could do an audiobook while everyone works on their handcrafts… How fun would that be!?

  32. Laura says:

    LOVE! When my sister-in-law and I get together, we hang out on her deck and read the same book together and ask discussion questions. Fun drinks always involved (this could even mean tea or lemonade in fancy glasses). When I was little and reading the Little House series, my mom planned a Laura Ingalls Wilder day where we used basically no electricity, dressed the part, and had food from that time period (all I remember is corn bread?). Bookish themed foods would be so fun to MAKE as a break between chapters!

  33. Rebecca says:

    I don’t know… when I read a book, I frequently find I need to walk away in the MIDDLE of the chapter. I’m a HSP who can’t stand too much tension! Reading it with a group (even of like-minded friends), might be too hard. But having friends to immediately discuss with? Very cool.

  34. Debbie Snyder says:

    I love this idea! I can see this happening at a botanical gardens. You could read a chapter in each little area, stop and have a picnic lunch on the grounds, later go into the cafe and have tea. I would be there with bells on!

  35. Janet Cosbey says:

    I have a friend who does this. Every October she and a group of her friends from childhood meet for a week in Breckenridge, Co. They eat, drink, laugh, talk, hike, reminiscene and discuss a book they’ve selected to read. It sounds like pure bliss to me.

  36. alice says:

    I would personally have a really hard time pausing every chapter if I was really into a book. And it might be difficult if there is a wide range of reading speeds among the group (someone who reads much faster might end up with a lot of downtime). I love the audiobook idea because then everyone is experiencing it at the same time and then the group can agree on natural stopping points for discussion and breaks.

  37. Kristine says:

    This sounds like such a fantastic idea! I’d love to combine a book club camp with a book about the outdoors (or with really lovely place descriptions) and have a full sensory experience! Reading in hammocks or in a tent sounds sublime!

  38. Sarah says:

    My daughter would love this. As a voracious reader, I think she would love to discuss books with others her age. I think that would be a wonderful experience to discuss books as well with kids her age to gain different perspectives. My daughter will read anywhere, but she has other interests like the love of nature. In order for her to read with other kiddos around, the other kiddos would have to be motivated to read too. In other words, I can see picking a wonderful spot (even our backyard), inviting others and then no reading getting done because they would rather play. 🙂
    Another commenter said that they would have a hard time going chapter by chapter on a really good book. I think my daughter would have the same problem. Though she does a good job of restraining herself from reading ahead on our night time read alouds, even when the book is really good. 🙂 Being that it is in the 90s in Louisville this week, I’m having a hard time picturing my girls wanting to do anything but swim or run through a sprinkler if they are outside. But it might be fun to have a reading party with a tent or reading area set up for the girls inside the house.

  39. Kristin says:

    Someone else’s post made me remember something I hadn’t thought of in the longest time! My BFF and I would read the same book and spend long summer days acting it out. Long discussions about who got to be Mary in Little House or Beth in Little Women – we were both drama queens who loved to suffer for our art 🙂 we had so much fun!

  40. mayajt, iggyfeather says:

    That sounds awesome! I am a teenager, and I would totally do that. If you do it. Also, I have no idea where you live, so maybe I wouldn’t… but I think you should do it anyway, and maybe I will do it with my friends!

  41. Mrs A says:

    Maybe adult moderator has read the book ahead and prepares appropriately themed snacks or meals to pair with a discussion, prepares a scavenger hunt, gives everyone a subject matter or theme (or even a template, like at a wine+painting party) and participants all paint chapter 3 together while listening to chapter 4 being read. Other easy handcrafts could be knitting or weaving, embroidery, calligraphy (favorite quotes from the book?) A hike or walk in a quiet area, even a service project like raking leaves, etc could be accomplished! What a fun idea!

  42. Allyson says:

    I would sign up to attend a book club camp. It would fill the empty spot in my heart/schedule left by Booktopia. (Although truth be told, more talking than reading occurred on those weekends.)

  43. Maria Orr says:

    My daughters and I would love your camp! Together or separate. What a lovely activity. I would like a balance of non-competitive physical activity to balance the reading such as swimming or yoga by the water. Cooking too…there are great books that reference food, so it would add dimension to the experience.

  44. I love it! My oldest daughter is just learning to read (First in French and with a slight delay in English). I love the idea of a remote book club with a friend or cousin. (I do a similar one with non-native speakers of English). But actually being together to read and do a physical activity and read again? Sounds great! What about playing in water between reading? I remember summers alone in blazing hot Southern California–this was my ritual: read in front of a fan, play in water, read in front of the fan. It was solitary though. How much more meaningful it would be to go on a shared book adventure!?!?! Plus talking about a book helps you play your role in writing the story yourself. OHHH–what about doing a book related activity between chapters. My kids love acting out scenes from books. . .I can imagine costumes. . .ok, I want to go to the book camp!

  45. Amy says:

    I LOVE this idea! It combines the solitary, stationary act of reading with conversation, socializing, and activity! It would help increase ones reading comprehension and the skill of being able to jump back into the book after an “interruption.” What a lovely, idea, Anne + girls! Thank you! 🙂

  46. Amy says:

    OH. My. Goodness. I would have gone to something like this as a kid (and now too!). Also, I would definitely be up for being involved in something like this as a teacher! Make a camp Anne, I will come 😉

  47. EA Mastro says:

    I think it’s a fantastic idea! I would love it. I’ve never been to a camp like that, but if I’d know of one I certainly would have signed up!

  48. Taylor says:

    I want something like this right now! This is a great idea for kids since they love to be outside and being outside is good for everyone – as is reading a lot.

    My baby girl is only 5 months old and I already can’t wait to organize something like this for her and her friends LOL. That is, of course, if she likes reading. But I really hope to instill in her a love of reading!

  49. Sarah says:

    You have sparked an event! We’re going to do a book club weekend with my book club in one of our members’ garden (camping) in a couple of weeks.

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