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Awesome SparkNotes contributer Kathryn Williams wrote a novel all about summer camp! It's called The Lost Summer, and it's coming out July 14! Exciting! We asked her to share her camp-going expertise with us. Enjoy. —SparkNotes editors

We think Disneyland has it wrong. Sure, they have indoor roller coasters, people dressed up in animal costumes, and a series of secret underground tunnels for maximum Mickey movement. But if you ask us, "the happiest place on earth" is not Disneyland, but summer camp.

Some kids get homesick at camp; we get campsick at home. We loved love camp more than some might categorize as "healthy."

Even if your camp doesn't technically start until July, you probably start getting ready around mid-May. That means we're already running late with our tips for preparing for the awesomest, parent-free, nothing-to-do-but-ride-horses, try-your-hand-at-archery, and make-tie-dyed-shirts, utopian three weeks of the year:

8 weeks prior: Call camp friends to discuss which cabin you hope to be in, what exactly you will be wearing on Opening Day, and whether or not that really hot counselor from last summer is coming back. Drag these conversations out over the next eight weeks.

7 weeks prior: Make a list of everything you need to pack. Worry when you realize the list is four pages, single-spaced. Consider, if push comes to shove, which you need more: extra shoelaces or silly string. Decide on silly string.

6 weeks prior: Trip to Target for a lifetime supply of underwear, tube socks, and sunscreen in four different SPFs.

5 weeks prior: Trip to Target for a tennis racket, because you realized you never brought yours back last year, and it's probably gone now.

3 weeks prior: Watch The Parent Trap, Meatballs, Indian Summer, Little Darlings, Ernest Goes to Camp, Wet Hot American Summer, and any other movie about summer camp you can get your hands on.

2 weeks prior: Another trip to Target to stockpile candy. Your stash has to be better than everyone else's. You will use this candy to bribe younger, candyless campers into doing your bidding.

1 week prior: Write or iron your name into every article of clothing you own.

T minus 3 days: Pack your trunk. Repack your trunk because not everything fits and some things have to go.

T minus 2 days: Pack your trunk again because you realize you cannot live without the things you took out yesterday. This time, figure out how to fit everything in by rolling t-shirts rather than folding. You are a camp-ready genius.

T minus 1 day: Pace your house, freaking out because CAMP STARTS TOMORROW!!!!! OMG!!!!!! YAY!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!! Send all your home friends a text message saying ta-ta for now, suckahs! Make sure they (and your crush) have your address so they can write you.

C-Day: Wake up at 6:30. Pack the car for your parents. Watch your dad repack the car while you worry you're gonna be late and everyone is gonna get there before you. Spend the car ride there feeling so nervous but excited you think you might get carsick. Pull over. You're fine; keep going. Finally, upon arrival, take a flying leap from the moving vehicle when you spot your first camp friend. Wish your parents a safe trip home (after they unload your trunk, of course) and get down to the business of what summer is all about: swimming holes, nature walks, the smell of OFF!, and ice cream.

Is camp the icing on your summer cake? How do you prepare?

Topics: Life
Tags: camp

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About the Author

Kathryn Williams is the author of three YA novels but only one with an Oxford comma in the title. She is a Taurus and hates writing bios. Check out her website,, and follow her on Twitter @kathrynwauthor.

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