Camp Outlook By Brenda Baker a book Review

COCover.indd   Camp Outlook is one of those books that take you by surprise.  The book is an easy read and book that you can’t put down.  This book is targeted for kids in middle school and high school, but this is a book  adults too should read.

Storyline:  This book is narrated by the main character of the book:  Shannon: a girl in middle school who struggles with her self identity.  She describes herself as an Atheist and how she became one.  She feels that there is not a God, because he has let her and her family down.  She feels that her prayers are never answered and if there was a God, she can’t understand why God didn’t stop the bad things in her life from happening.   The book opens with Shannon talking how her family will never be a normal family again.  Shannon is sent off to “Camp Outlook”-an religious camp against her will.  Shannon argues to her parents that she is being sent to this camp and she doesn’t even believe in God.  Shannon is sent off to camp because it is the summer of when her baby brother Gabriel was born just weeks before.  Shannon’s parents’ finally are blessed with a baby boy after many failed attempts and miscarriages.  Shannon wants to be happy for her family, but…thinks how can she be because thinks that what should be a happy moment is not one.  Gabriel is a baby boy born with down syndrome who has many serious health complications at birth.  Shannpn feels that she and her family will never be looked at as a normal family again as she thinks that they will be the one family with a child with down syndrome.  Shannon’s views and thoughts of people with disabilities are formulated by different experiences, peer pressure and how other peers views and treat kids with disabilities.    Shannon can’t cope with her brother’s birth which leads to Shannon doing something very stupid, which leads to being sent to camp so that her mother and family can adjust to being new parents again, (by themselves) and get into a new life routine with their baby that has down syndrome before Shannon joins her family again.

Camp Outlook changes Shannon as a person and her outlook on life and of people.  Shannon ends up enjoying camp and meeting a few kids with disabilities, where she gets a glimpse of what a life with a brother with a disability would be like.  She sees too how the other campers treat the camper with the disability.  Shannon also has many life changing experiences at camp and bizarre visions that changes Shannon’s perspective about people with disabilities and of her new life with her baby brother will be.  When Shannon returns from camp, she begins her new life with her brother.  Did camp change Shannon and her ability to cope and enjoy her new life as a big sister?  Read and find out!

My Thoughts:  Camp Outlook touched upon many people’s views of people that have disabilities.  The book reflected how today’s society view people with disabilities as different, incapable, talked about the proper way to refer to an individual with a disability and the book also showed how people forget to realize the people with disabilities may have differences, but each have their own special traits or strengths that make that person who she or he is.  I liked the author’s writing style.  Having Shannon:  the main character narrate the book added so much realism to the story.  The author wrote in a way that you felt that you were a character in the book.  The book bothered me how some characters treated some of the individuals that had a disability so cruelly or differently.  However, sadly in today’s society, kids and adults sometimes treat people with disabilities or other people with other types of differences cruelly or incapable.  In the book,  the author did a great job with showing how Shannon went through a transformation of a self centered young middle schooler into a young woman much older than her years.   This book teaches us that differences with people sometimes do exist but the importance of recognizing that all people have strengths and character traits that make up him or she.  The book showed the reader that there is an ever-changing definition of referring to people with disability.  The book reflected to today’s society that when referring to a person with a disability, you should focus more on the person and not have the disability define that person.

On a personal note:  I am a Medicaid Service coordinator that works with kids and adults with disabilities.  I see all or hear all of what is discussed in this book.  As a professional, I am taught to use a person centered approach when working with people with disabilities.  There may be people in our society that have developmental disabilities but they should not be viewed as incapable people.  These people should not be ridiculed, or be treated differently because of their disability.   This book is a learning book for us all.  The book teaches us about diversity, human character and that being different is not a bad thing.  This book would be a great book for junior high school or high school students to read in english class or for summer reading and then have the students write a review or paper of what they learned from this book.  In this book, there is so much that teachers could look at with their students with their book.   Adults can also learn many things from this book! A great read for us all!

After reading Camp Outlook: consider the following questions:

How does Shannon as a character grow?

How does Camp Outlook shape Shannon as a person or her views?

What are the significance of Shannon’s bizarre visions?  How are the people in the book with disabilities treated differently?

What life lessons can this book teach us?

Find it on Amazon

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this book with #diversekidlit! It sounds like a good resource and that the changes the narrator undergoes might well help the reader understand kids with disabilities better too.

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