Search Usborne

Best Friends?

Best friends?

Chapter One

Dear Emily,

Hey there, chiquita! What’s up back in Boringtown, USA? I bet you’ve been spending the whole summer just lying by the pool, right? I’m having a blast here at Camp Lakeview, as if that’s any surprise! My bunkmates rule – they’re almost as cool as you. (Calm down, I said almost!) I’m in the same bunk as Brynn, Jenna and Alex again, which is so much fun. It’s hard to believe I haven’t seen them since last summer – we just slipped right back into our old friendship. I’m lucky to have so many friends here. Not that they’ll ever replace you, my bestest friend in the world! I wish you could come to Lakeview, too. It’s weird not seeing you for the entire summer. And I know you’re probably mad at me. I’m sorry I haven’t written yet, Em, but you know how it is. I keep meaning to, but then—

Whatever. I haven’t told you the most amazing thing. One of the new girls in my bunk, Natalie, is the daughter of Tad Maxwell!!

Can you believe it?? He came to Lakeview with his girlfriend once in the early days of camp, but he couldn’t make it for Visiting Day last week. If only my parents were famous movie stars so they would be too busy to get here for a visit. But no, they showed up. With another boring book for me to read. Ugh. Can you believe it? Jenna’s parents brought a truckload of food in their care package, and my parents bring The Jungle Book. Why would anyone want to read that when they can just watch the cartoon? Anyway, Mom and Dad spent the whole time lecturing me, as I’m sure you can imagine—

Grace Matthews sighed and put down her pen. Her best friend, Emily, deserved a letter. She’d already sent three letters to Grace at Camp Lakeview, and Grace hadn’t answered even one. But it took so long to write a letter...and there was always so much fun stuff to do at camp. Her copy of The Call of the Wild lay upside down at the foot of her bed, open to the last page she’d read. Grace grabbed it and pulled it half-heartedly onto her lap. Reading was almost as boring as writing. She glanced around bunk 3C at all her friends. Sure, some of them were reading or writing letters, but lots of them were busy doing more interesting stuff. Well, except for Chelsea, who seemed to be doing nothing but staring at herself in her hand mirror. Chelsea was beautiful, but it still had to be pretty boring to spend all your time looking at your own face. Grace shrugged and turned her attention to one of the other old-time campers like herself.

“Hey, Brynn,” Grace called down from her top bunk. “What on earth are you doing?”

Brynn stood in the centre of the small room, her feet planted about ten inches apart on the scuffed wooden floor. She was bent over at the waist, her arms hanging down and her short dark red hair falling over her face. She’d been standing like that for at least two minutes. “It’s yoga,” Brynn said, her voice muffled. She was speaking into her knees, after all. “My mom gave me an article on Visiting Day about how lots of actors do yoga to keep themselves focused.”

Grace grinned. She loved acting, and she knew Brynn did, too. In fact, it was the only real interest Brynn had. “Mind if I join you?”

Brynn shook her upside-down head. Grace jumped down from her bunk, took her place next to Brynn, and copied the strange position. Just before she bent over, she noticed Julie, their counsellor, shoot a look up at the unfinished letter and book on Grace’s bed. Grace felt her cheeks grow warm, and she quickly leaned over so she wouldn’t have to meet Julie’s gaze.

Hanging head-down wasn’t much better, though. All the blood rushed to her head, making her cheeks and neck feel hot. Her curly red hair was longer than Brynn’s, and it kept getting in her eyes and covering her face. She moved to pull away a strand that had gotten caught in her mouth, but Brynn protested. “You’re supposed to keep still,” she said. “Don’t move; just pay attention to your breathing and to the stretch in your back muscles.”

“That’s right, Grace, don’t forget to breathe,” Jenna Bloom said from across the room. Jenna put on a slow, deep voice as if she were trying to hypnotize someone. “Breathe in...breathe out. Breathe in...breathe in some more,” Jenna said in her “soothing” voice.

Grace couldn’t help it – she got the giggles. “How can I pay attention to my breathing when I can’t breathe?” she asked. Leaning over like this made it hard to take a deep breath, and she felt herself getting a little dizzy. She stood up quickly and got a head rush. “Whoa,” she cried, stumbling backwards. Luckily Marissa, bunk 3C’s CIT, or counsellor-in-training, was there to catch her.

“I’m not sure you’re mellow enough to do yoga, Grace,” Marissa joked.

Brynn stood up very slowly. “It’s too bad,” she commented. “You could be such a good actress if you tried. Yoga could really help you be more centred.”

Grace decided to ignore her. Brynn’s whole goal in life was to be a famous actor, and she could never understand why Grace wasn’t as focused on that as she was. But to Grace, acting was just something fun to do. She loved it – she totally loved it – but mostly because it was easy, and she was good at it, and it gave her a chance to be someone else for a few minutes. She didn’t need to be famous or anything. She just loved acting. Whenever things got tough in school, acting was her favourite way to escape from the pressure. But none of her bunkmates knew that. None of them had any idea how it was back at school. Summer camp was for fun, not stress, and that was exactly how Grace liked it.

“There’s no more time for yoga now, anyway,” Marissa said. “Dinner’s ready. I just came back to grab my hairband – I forgot it.” Marissa snatched a pink elastic band from her bed and took off, letting the screen door bang shut behind her as she scooped her long hair up into a ponytail. She and the other CITs were responsible for serving the meals in the mess hall. If you could call them meals.

“Okay, everyone, let’s go chow down,” Julie called.

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Jenna joked, heading for the door. She was so athletic that she spent lots of time eating – she needed plenty of fuel to burn out on the soccer field. She, Alex, and Sarah were the big jocks in the bunk. Grace liked sports well enough, but she wasn’t as obsessed with them as some of her friends.

“I think it’s spaghetti night,” Alex said. She rolled her eyes at Brynn, her best friend. “In other words...”

“...cardboard strips in tomato soup,” Brynn finished for her. They both laughed.

Grace had to admit, the food at Camp Lakeview wasn’t gourmet. In fact, it was even worse than the cafeteria food back at school. But eating every night in the noisy mess hall surrounded by all the other Lakeview campers was enough fun that the food didn’t matter.

She climbed down the two rickety steps from the cabin and followed her bunkmates along the path towards the mess hall. Natalie and Alyssa, another 3C camper, walked right behind her.

“I didn’t even get to dance with him,” Alyssa was saying. “It’s no big deal.”

“But he obviously likes you,” Natalie replied.

Grace grinned and turned around to walk backwards so she could talk to them. “Still talking about the camp social?” she asked. “It was almost a week ago!”

Alyssa shrugged, making her orange hair swing. She’d dyed it that colour the night before the social – by accident. It was supposed to be red, but something had gone horribly wrong. Grace was secretly a little relieved not to be the most Ronald McDonald-like girl in the bunk for a change. But on Alyssa, the strange colour actually looked good – sort of punk. Alyssa was so artsy that she could make anything weird seem stylish.

“Adam was totally flirting with Alyssa at the social,” Natalie said. “And I know she likes him, too. She’s just being shy.”

Alyssa stuck out her tongue at Natalie. “And you’re just trying to make us forget about you and Simon,” she teased.

Grace laughed. It was true, Natalie’s relationship with Simon had been the big topic of discussion in bunk 3C for the past few weeks. Well, first it had been Natalie’s famous father, and then Natalie’s sort-of boyfriend, Simon. But for the past few days, talk had been a little more serious in the bunk.

Grace glanced over her shoulder to see where Jenna was. She was tromping through the trees at the head of the group, as usual. “Hey, do you guys think Jenna’s doing okay?” she asked, lowering her voice.

Natalie squinted at Jenna’s back. “She’s been kinda sticking to herself, I guess,” she said. “But I think that’s normal.”

Alyssa nodded. “She’s probably still embarrassed about the Great Animal Escape.”

Grace shuddered just thinking about it. Jenna had always been a prankster – some of the best memories Grace had from the previous summer were of helping Jenna prank their rival bunk, 3A. But the night before this year’s Visiting Day, Jenna had gone too far. She’d let all the animals from the nature shack out of their cages...and into the camp social. It had been mayhem, and Jenna had gotten in a lot of trouble.

“Adam says she’ll be fine,” Alyssa said. “And he should know, he’s her twin!”

“Oh, is that what Adam says?” Grace joked.

Natalie laughed, but Alyssa didn’t even blush. She could be pretty impressive sometimes. When Grace had first met her, she’d thought Alyssa was shy because she was so quiet. But in the past month, she’d discovered that Alyssa wasn’t shy – she just didn’t see the need to talk unless she had something to say.

“It must be nice to have a twin,” Natalie commented. “It’s like having your own built-in best friend for life.”

“Yeah, must be nice,” Grace agreed. She turned back around to walk forwards. Suddenly Grace realized that her whole bunk was lined up in pairs. Jenna walked along chatting with Julie, whom she’d known for years because her whole family had been coming to Lakeview since for ever. Then Brynn and Alex, Sarah and Valerie, Candace and Jessie, Alyssa and Nat...even Chelsea had a buddy. She was walking with Karen, one of the most timid girls in the bunk. That was sort of a weird combination, but the rest of the pairs were totally normal. They were all best friends. Everyone had a partner except for Grace.

Grace felt a pang of homesickness. Well, maybe not homesickness, exactly. More like friendsickness. She missed Emily. They’d been best friends since kindergarten, and Emily knew everything about Grace’s life and her family and all her issues... Why don’t I have a best friend at camp? Grace suddenly wondered. Everyone else does.

The thought had never occurred to her before, and it was so shocking that she stopped in her tracks. How had she managed to spend a whole summer here last year without making a best friend? And she’d been here for half the summer this year without one, too.

“Whoa, Grace, did you fall asleep standing up?” Natalie laughed, pushing her gently in the back. “I almost walked right into you!”

“Oh. Sorry,” Grace mumbled. Nat and Alyssa stepped in front of her, and Grace trailed after them.

“It was nice to meet your mom on Visiting Day,” Alyssa told Natalie. “She’s more my speed than your father. No offence.”

“Don’t worry. Even I can’t keep up with my dad’s crazy life,” Natalie replied. “But I always have fun with my mother. And she really liked your parents – she told me so.”

“Yeah, maybe over the winter we can all hang out,” Alyssa said. “Our parents can keep one another busy, and then we can get away with doing whatever we want!”

Natalie grinned and gave her a high five.

Grace sighed. If only her parents were the kind of people she could have fun with. But they never even seemed to understand the idea of fun. Lately the only thing they did was give her lectures or “talks” or “suggestions”. Even at Visiting Day, they hadn’t wanted to talk about camp. They’d wanted to give her another lecture.

Snap out of it, Grace ordered herself. Mom and Dad aren’t here now. So I don’t have to think about it. She was here at Lakeview, her favourite place in the world, and she was going to enjoy every minute of it. Or at least she was going to try. It would be easier, though, if she could talk to someone about what was going on...

Grace quickened her pace, catching up to Natalie and Alyssa. They were still talking about Visiting Day, but Grace’s mind wasn’t on their conversation. She just watched the two of them, walking along close together, teasing and laughing with each other...they’d only known each other for a month, and yet they acted like old friends. Best friends.

I can’t believe I didn’t finish that letter to Emily, Grace thought, horrified. What if her best friend really was mad at her for not writing all summer? Grace had promised and promised that this year would be different. That this summer she’d actually keep in touch. The whole time, she’d known that Emily didn’t believe her. Emily assumed that she wouldn’t get a single letter from Grace, and so far, she was right.

Grace took a deep breath. Of course Emily wouldn’t be mad. Emily understood how hard it was for Grace to write...that it took too long and kept her from relaxing and having fun at camp. Emily would just shake her head and laugh, because that’s what best friends did.

A burst of laughter erupted from Natalie and Alyssa in front of her, and Grace felt a little flicker of jealousy. If she had a best friend at camp, she wouldn’t have to keep this all to herself. She’d be able to talk about her parents’ annoying behaviour at Visiting Day. She’d be able to talk about...

Oh, never mind, Grace thought. I have lots of friends here. And that’s better than just one. Isn’t it?


Currently unavailable on this website

Grace is a riot at camp – not afraid to do anything for a laugh, she's everyone's friend. But secretly she isn't as carefree as she seems, and wishes she had a best friend to confide in. So she starts hanging out with Gaby, a girl from a rival bunk. But when Gabby starts acting like a bully, Grace finally has to get serious. Fun, friendships, secrets, boys ... Summer Camp has it all! Visit the Summer Camp Secrets website at for biogs of all the girls, fun quizzes, top tips, sleepover songs, delish recipes and lots more!

Read free chapter

Visit the ‘Summer Camp Secrets’ microsite

Book information

Key Stage
KS2/3 E
Lexile Measure
Accelerated Reader level
4.3 MY
ISBN: 9780746084571
Extent: 176 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm

Author information

Reader reviews

Read the following reviews or write one of your own.

I loved the book Best Friends. It was the first book I read from Summer Camp Secrets and I loved it. It kinda made me think about who my real friends are and what they are really like. I especially loved the fact that it was Grace's story because she's my favourite character.
“I wish I could be in bunk 3C!”
As soon as I read the first few pages of Miss Manhatten I knew I would like them. It's exciting to know how summer camps are. I wish I could be in bunk 3c! I enjoyed reading all of the books but i think Miss Manhattan and Best Friends were my favourites. I liked the part in Best Friends when Grace stood up to Gaby because nobody likes a bossy friend! I think the best part in Miss Manhattan was when Natalie and Simon kept bumping into each other. I can't wait to read books 7,8,9,10,11 and 12 and i'll be looking out for them in 2008.
“Summer Camp Secrets”
I've only just finished the first book and am looking for the other books. I think they are FANTASTIC. My favourite characters are Grace and Alex because I'm like them both the most. I can't wait to find out what happens in the other books.