Friday, May 03, 2019

Camp Average

Battle, Craig. Camp Average
April 15th 2019 by Owlkids
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Mack is perfectly happy to be attending Camp Avalon, where the group's continued lack of success in most sporting events has earned them the title "Camp Average". "We're number two!" is their battle cry, and campers are more interested in swimming, rocketry courses, and other pursuits than in striving to be better players. Enter a new director, Winston, who wants to change all this. Armed with short shorts and a whistle, Winston starts upping the training and taking away all other activities-- and the campers can't do anything, because their parents signed a waiver that this was okay! Mack's not happy, nor is Andre, even though he's a good ball player. There's a nice host of other campers; Wi-Fi, Pat, and Nelson, who is a YouTube star but lacks some social skills. Mack decides that if the counselors (including Cabin 10's own Laker) are taking away things the boys enjoy, the boys will purposefully do poorly at the games. Unfortunately, Winston knows that there is some talent in the camp, and the more the boys lose, the fewer privileges the boys have. Eventually, Winston makes a deal-- if Mack's team can win a game, he'll take another job, but if they lose, he will remain. Bowing to the pressure, the boys do their best, but even if they win, what will next year look like at camp?
Strengths: Mr. Battle's time spent as a camp conselour shows very clearly here; the details of camp are exquisite, and I love that he threw in the waiver about the way camp was run. Brilliant! The boys of Cabin 10 are all realistically drawn, and there are some nice twists on stereotypical campers. There is swimming, running through poison ivy, a dance with a girls' camp, and lots of other details that will remind former campers of their own experience and make noncampers yearn to strike out for the woods. There was a LOT of baseball (there's a game that goes on for several chapters, as well as some stats rosters), which made this tough going for me, but which my readers will adore.
Weaknesses: Noticeable lack of lanyard making. Is it legal to go to camp and not make lanyards? Also, I am not entirely sure that this wasn't lifted in its entirety from some obscure 1980s movie about baseball at a summer camp! It has a familiar ring to it.
What I really think: This is really more of a book about baseball than camp, but it covers both well. It's funny, lighthearted, but even manages to throw in a few life lessons. Definitely purchasing.

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