For most, summer camp is filled with memories of campfire s'mores, laughter in the sun, and the formation of lifelong friendships. But as any good slasher film will tell you, they’re also the perfect place to hunt down panicked teenagers one by one. They’re isolated, have very little adult supervision, and the camper teens are constantly running off to break the rules. And sometimes, summer camp is anything but fun. We found 11 horror books with some of the most terrifying summer camps you’ll never want to visit.
Related: 18 Summer Camp Horror Movies
The Last Time I Lied
The last time Emma Davis was at Camp Nightengale, she watched her three cabin mates sneak out in the dead of night, never to be seen again. Fifteen years later, she’s a rising artist and her art catches the eye of the wealthy socialite, Francesca Harris-White—who also owns Camp Nightengale. Francesca begs Emma to take a position as the camp’s new art counselor, and Emma sees it as a chance to finally find closure. But things at the camp aren’t as idyllic as Emma would like them to be. And when three girls go missing, Emma has to untangle the camp’s twisted history and find out what’s really happening at Camp Nightengale.
When a group of young counselors set out to rebuild Camp Black Bear, they didn’t expect to find a killer in the woods. They’re hunted until only two survive. The closest town is ten miles away, the forest is riddled with bodies, and there isn’t a working vehicle for miles. They have to survive the night, but already, the footsteps are moving in.
If Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween had a baby, it would go to this camp.
It was supposed to be a joyride on a perfect summer day. Riding in a convertible with the top down, the girls felt invincible. They were seventeen, deepening their perfect tans by skinny-dipping in a secluded lake. No one was supposed to know they were gone. But one smile is all it takes for two boys to notice you. Back in the safety of their camp but they feel watched no matter what they do. And there’s threatening notes being left on their beds. Sometimes urban legends are nothing more than a campfire scare. And sometimes they’re two boys in a beat-up station wagon, who take your smile as an invitation.
Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks
Jason Voorheesberg has a bad case of Slasher Anxiety. His mom believes he can still be the slasher he was meant to be, all he needs is some help. Enter Slasher Camp for Nebulous Youth #987. There, Jason encounters slashers of all kinds, but because he hasn’t killed anyone, still doesn’t fit in. After he gets attacked by some of the campers at the rival Final Camp across the lake, he’s deemed the worst slasher at the camp. But when he meets a final girl who loves slashers and manages to make an actual slasher friend, things start to look up. With the end of summer faceoff between Slashers and Finals, Jason might be able to prove his worth as a slasher after all.
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The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved
When Martin’s mom gets a job working on horror films, he ends up at Bible Camp near his grandparent’s house for the summer. He’s looking forward to learning archery, making new friends, and participating in all the summer camp activities. But there’s something not quite right at the camp and Martin notices that his fellow campers are slowly disappearing.
A brutal, heartwrenching, gory novel that will have you laughing and screaming, often in the same scene.
Once campers themselves, Esme and Kayla are excited to spend the summer as counselors-in-training at Camp Pine Lake. Everything is just as they remember. The girls in their cabins are all filled with the wide-eyed wonder of youth. And they’re scared of everything. Just like Esme and Kayla were at that age. But then something happened. Something the pair swore to forget. But when they get a note, their secret is threatened. Because no matter how much they try to forget, the lake never forgets.
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Larry ‘Pigface’ Travers was the terror of Camp Diamond Creek for three years. Between 1975 to 1978, he massacred hundreds of teenagers with his ax. But when he was outmaneuvered by that year’s final girl, he ends up trapped, partially burned, and presumed dead. He disappears, letting his legend live on. Now, in 2014, living with his geriatric mother doing jigsaw puzzles and playing bingo isn’t enough. The urge to kill is back. The only problem is he’s not as young as he used to be.
When Kevin gets sent to summer camp for being a bit too rebellious, he isn’t worried. All he has to do is skirt the rules until it’s time to go home. But the camp has its own way of dealing with unruly teens who break the rules. Every two weeks the campers have to endure The Trial. The more you misbehave, the more likely you’ll be sent to the woods. And with the Firwood Wraith wandering through the trees, that means you’re as good as dead. By the time Kevin realizes what this camp is used for, it’s too late.
His Final Girls
Summer camp is not how computer nerd Wes Carpenter wants to spend his vacation. Sure, it’s only ten days, but there are other ways he’d prefer to spend that time. Until he meets Linnea Langenkamp. She’s strong-willed and confident and makes camp infinitely better. But when a malicious prank awakens an ancient evil, blood splatters all over their summer romance. Between Wes’ innovative ideas and Linnea’s survival skills, they just might be able to stay alive, stop the killer, and save the camp. Or die trying.
Camp Blaze has a bloody history. First, a young boy was kidnapped from the camp, tortured, and murdered in a cult ritual. Then a group of counselors was murdered and no one was ever identified as the killer. Now, thirteen years later, Camp Blaze is open again. But when counselors start to go missing, lead counselor Regina Park knows there’s a killer stalking the camp once again. The camp owner has no choice but to close the camp. But will anyone be alive to actually leave?
The Boy in the Woods
It’s Eddie Reicher’s last day at Camp Cottonwood. But his parents don’t show up, so he has to spend one more night at summer camp. It isn’t all bad. He gets to hang out with the older counselor and his secret crush is staying one more night too. But as night falls, something dark infects the counselors. Suddenly, his exciting last night is a fight for his life and Eddie will have to do anything—even possibly kill—in order to survive.