Sports Camp

Sports Camp

4.6 6
by Rich Wallace

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Riley feels like the smallest kid at sports camp. In fact, he is. He just turned eleven in April, but most kids here are twelve, and a few are even thirteen—and gigantic. It’s hard enough for a shrimp like Riley to fit in. He just doesn’t want to be the weak link as his bunk competes for the Camp Olympia Trophy.

Riley knows he’s no good at

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Riley feels like the smallest kid at sports camp. In fact, he is. He just turned eleven in April, but most kids here are twelve, and a few are even thirteen—and gigantic. It’s hard enough for a shrimp like Riley to fit in. He just doesn’t want to be the weak link as his bunk competes for the Camp Olympia Trophy.

Riley knows he’s no good at strength and accuracy games like basketball and softball. But when it comes to speed and endurance events, like running and swimming, he’s better than he looks. He’s pretty sure he can place in the top ten—and bring in major trophy points—in the final mile-long swim race across Lake Surprise. But he doesn’t count on being followed by the shadow of Big Joe, the giant vicious snapping turtle of camp lore. Wasn’t that supposed to be a legend?

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Pitched directly at sports fanatics, Wallace's new novel follows an 11-year-old boy during his first visit to Camp Olympia, where he'll join with his new buddies in Cabin Three to compete with five other cabins in various sports for the coveted camp trophy. Riley is one of the youngest and smallest boys in the camp and knows he'll be ignored until he proves himself. However, Riley is a true sportsman, giving his all even in the sports in which he doesn't excel. Soon he's included in the shenanigans of his cabinmates, including the rivalries that extend outside of sport into trashing other cabins. The author includes horrifying ghost stories and the menace of a legendary snapping turtle rumored to live in the camp's lake, but most of the narrative follows Riley's efforts at basketball, baseball, long-distance running and especially swimming, his best sport, with camp statistics listed after each chapter. The tale sticks fairly close to realism, allowing Riley to win and lose, and builds good suspense during the final showdown. Good fun for young sportsmen. (Fiction. 9-13)
Children's Literature - Sue Poduska
Riley Liston is the youngest and smallest resident of Cabin 3 at Camp Olympia. With the cabins competing for the camp trophy over the two weeks of camp, Riley is worried he will not measure up and will never make friends with the older kids. He is a good swimmer, but he is also dealing with fear of the legendary giant snapping turtle, Big Joe, who reportedly lives in the lake. In addition, there are supposed to be ghosts of Big Joe's previous victims residing near the lake. Riley begins to feel at home when he gets nicknamed Night Crawler after he wanders through the woods at night. Gradually he finds his niche in the competitions and also makes friends. His big chances to shine come with the cross-country relay race and the camp-ending swim. The fun story should appeal to boys, not only because of the themes of camaraderie and friendship but also because of the humor of the turtle, the ghosts, a hot-dog-eating contest, upset stomachs from rancid chicken, and practical jokes between cabins. Reviewer: Sue Poduska
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—When 11-year-old Riley Liston arrives at Camp Olympia, he quickly realizes that it's going to be a long two weeks. As one of the youngest and smallest campers, he lacks the skills at basketball and softball that the older guys have. Normally, he wouldn't mind—he knows he's a good swimmer and runner—but the cabins are all competing for the coveted Big Joe Trophy (named after the legendary snapping turtle that inhabits the lake), and Riley doesn't want to be the person who takes the Cabin 3 Threshers out of the running. His concerns seem well-founded: during the games, loud Barry berates Riley for his playing, and none of the guys goes out of his way to make the boy feel like part of the gang. But he perseveres, and friendships slowly develop as a few cabin mates begin swimming laps each day in preparation for the marathon swimming race that occurs the last night of camp. Despite bumps along the way, the boys in Cabin 3 hold their own, and the question of which cabin will claim the Big Joe Trophy is anybody's call. Wallace has a talent for capturing adolescent boys' behavior, and while the plot is formulaic and some of the plot requires suspending belief, the story has appeal. Each chapter ends with a Camp Olympia Bulletin, the daily newsletter that keeps everyone apprised of upcoming activities and team standings. Purchase where sports stories by Matt Christopher and Dan Gutman are popular.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Facing the Wall    

Riley Liston's first glimpse of the lake came as the bus wheels screeched around a tight turn on the rural highway. He could see the water shining in the sunlight beyond the trees. The driver braked hard, and Riley lunged forward. The minibus made a sharp right onto a narrow dirt road and rattled past the CAMP OLYMPIA sign.  

The sign—featuring a painting of a giant snapping turtle—looked considerably shabbier than it had in the brochure. From what Riley could see of the buildings up ahead, the rest of the camp looked run-down, too.  

"That thing had my foot in its mouth last year, I swear!" said Barry Monahan, the pudgy kid in the seat in front of Riley. "I've still got a scar."  

"That thing" was Big Joe, the legendary resident of Lake Surprise. Said to be as wide as a wheelbarrow and as fierce as a mountain lion, the snapping turtle had been the subject of all kinds of stories from the older guys on the three-hour ride from the city. They told of kids who'd lost fingers and toes, and of others who'd barely escaped.  

"About ten years ago he bit some kid's leg off!"  

Riley squirmed and looked toward the lake again, but the bus had turned uphill and was approaching a ring of cabins.  

When the bus stopped, a counselor stepped on board and introduced himself as Shawn. "You guys are in Cabin Three," he said.  

"Who's in those other cabins?" somebody asked.  

"Your rivals."  

Riley swallowed hard and grabbed his backpack from the rack above his seat. He'd done well at sports in the past—Little League baseball, YMCA soccer—but he'd be one of the youngest kids at this two-week sports camp in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. Most of the guys on the bus were twelve and a few—Barry and Hernando—had already turned thirteen. Riley's eleventh birthday had been in April.  

"Move your butt," said the guy behind him as they stood in the aisle.  

Riley looked back. Tony Maniglia, who towered over Riley, was smiling as if he'd been joking—there was no way Riley could go anywhere until the line started to move.  

Riley could sense that these older guys would be picking on the smaller ones like him. He knew most of them from their neighborhood in Jersey City, but not well. They'd been to camp before; Riley hadn't.  

The only other eleven-year-old in the group was Barry Monahan's scrawny little brother, Patrick. He wasn't much bigger than Riley, but Patrick could have kicked his butt in two seconds. Riley had seen him working in the alley behind Monahan's Tavern, lifting beer kegs that Riley wouldn't have been able to budge.  

Riley took a lower bunk against the wall, below Patrick. The inside walls of the cabin had been painted a pale yellow many years before, and the floor was bare gray boards. There were also ten lockers but no locks.  

Riley spread out his sleeping bag, shoved his backpack under the bunk, and hung his sweatshirt and rain jacket in the locker.  

"Cabin Three...," Barry was saying. "I seem to remember that this is the haunted one. I stayed in Cabin Six last year, but the guys in this one were always scared to be in here alone."  

Riley looked around. It didn't look spooky in the daylight. He read the sheet of paper that had been sitting on every bunk:    

Saturday, July 31  

Triple-header on Tap  
Who: Cabin 1 Wonders vs. Cabin 2 Tubers (Cabin 3 Threshers vs. Cabin 4 Fortunes and Cabin 5 Fighters vs. Cabin 6 Sixers to follow)  
When: 6:30 p.m.  
Where: The spacious and modern Olympia Arena  
What's at Stake: Team points toward the Big Joe Trophy!  

Softball, Water Polo Get Under Way Tomorrow  

Softball: Sunday morning at the Arthur Drummond Memorial Stadium  
Water Polo: After lunch at the Lake Surprise Aquatics and Fitness Center

Each camper must play at least one quarter of every basketball game and one half of each water-polo event  

Upcoming: Two-man canoe races, a cross-country running relay, the tug-of-war, and lots more, including the camp-ending Lake Surprise Showdown (a marathon swim race)  

Best of luck to all Camp Olympia athletes!    

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Sports Camp 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. If you love sports you'll love this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks into th spa and solan spends in there all day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is soooooooooooo good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi there.