Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman

Book Summary

Gabe finds out that he's been accepted to summer camp for smart kids while he's visiting his father and his new stepbrother, who is his age. Zack seems pretty cool, but that makes Gabe worry about whether he himself is cool enough for Zack. At camp, Gabe constructs an ongoing logic proof to determine whether he is a nerd or not. In the end, does it matter?

Nerd Camp book cover
Nerd Camp

Book Review

This book is full of charmingly realistic examples of the kinds of things gifted children find funny and interesting. Many readers will wish they could attend a camp with as many fun activities as the one in this book!

It's a little disappointing that the story only revolves around one central problem--whether or not Gabe can reconcile his real interests with his desire to impress his stepbrother. 

This book might offer some good discussion opportunities for families and teachers of gifted students. Some readers may not be fond of the "nerd" label or the "smart kids" generalization, and discussions about why may help expand understanding about groups and labels.

Parts of the story are told in non-traditional text, including letters and note-taking.

There are a couple of sequels, including Nerd Camp 2.0

left quotation mark

And talk about cool: His nickname represented the hypotenuse of a right triangle and the speed of light."
p. 142

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Gifted Students
  • Step-Siblings
  • Being True To Yourself vs. Worrying About What Others Think

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

    1) Are kids comfortable around other kids who are different from each other? Why, or why not?

    2) What are the different kinds of ways a person can be smart? What advantages do Gabe and Zack have, relative to each other?

    3) Is it a good idea to have "Nerd Camps" and labels like "gifted" in schools? What are the benefits and drawbacks to having these things? How are those benefits and drawbacks similar to other kinds of camps, opportunities, and labels, like athletics?

    4) What examples of gifted student behaviors did you find most realistic in this book, and why? Which character behaviors did you recognize in yourself?

    5) How important is it to be considered "cool?" Can cool and giftedness co-exist? How does Gabe's thinking about this change throughout the book?

    6) Which Nerd Camp activity do you think sounds most interesting to try, and why?

    7) What is your opinion of Zack? Of Gabe? How well do you predict their new family will work together? What observations do you have about other characters in this book?

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