Brown, Marc. Arthur Goes to Camp. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1982.
Here in central Texas, school is out and the hot weather is upon us. We topped out at 100˚ today. It is going to be a long hot summer!
Do you have children? How will they spend their time this summer? When my girls were young we were able to send them to camp a couple of times. They went to Day camp, Girl Scout camp, and Band camp to name a few. They enjoyed camp and were excited to go.
In this book, Arthur’s parents are sending him to Camp Meadowbrook to learn all about the outdoors. He is not happy! He does not want to go! At the camp bus stop, he is even more unhappy. His nemesis, Francine, and most of the other girls from his class are going to the same camp. It doesn’t matter that his friend Buster is going, too. Things were going to be just like at school, girls against the boys.
The bus passes Camp Horsewater, Camp Meadowbrook’s adversary in the annual scavenger hunt. The campers look impressive, perhaps that is why they always win. Arthur is not impressed. On the bus, before arriving at camp, he writes his first letter home.
Dear Mom and Dad, I am not at camp yet. I am very homesick and I miss you very much. Please write soon. Love, Arthur.
This lament reminds me of the old Allan Sherman song, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. Have a listen. It is very funny and you can compare this boy’s experience to Arthur’s.
Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining
This song sums up Arthur’s opinion and experience of camp. It is just as awful as he supposed. The girls do everything right. They are having a wonderful time. The boys on the other hand are not. Arthur’s counselor, Rocky is very strict and very athletic. He wants his boys to get in shape. If the pictures in the book are to be believed, he is a little frustrated by them. The boys find poison ivy. The girls win all the contests. The boys find frogs in their beds, and someone runs their underwear up the flag pole. This camp is not fun! What is a boy as miserable as Arthur to do? On the day of the great scavenger hunt, he leaves camp and heads home.
At the end of Allan Sherman’s song, the young boy finds out that there are things to be excited about at camp. Will Arthur make it the same discovery? Will he be miserable all summer? Who will win the scavenger hunt? What is going on at Camp Meadowbrook? You will have to read the book to find out.
Whether you are going to camp, on vacation, or just staying home, pick up a cool summer book and read!