Setting Thesaurus Entry: Sleep-Away Camp


wood cabins, bunk beds, curtained windows, sleeping bags and pillows, window a/c units, ceiling fans, locker, cobwebs, volleyball nets, basketball hoops, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, tug-of-war rope, archery targets, bows and arrows, bins full of art supplies…


kids laughing/yelling/talking, singing, counselors shouting, splashing in the pond, slap of oars in water, lifeguard’s whistle, hands slapping at mosquitoes, wind blowing in trees, birds chirping, squirrels chattering, hollow sound of volleyball being smacked, horseshoes…


campfire smoke, chocolate, bug repellant, sunscreen, sweaty bodies, hamburgers and hot dogs being grilled, mildew, bleach, musty smell of cabins, rain, leathery basketball, metal smell of horseshoes, earthy smell, glue, markers…


sweet-and-salty smores, the acrid taste of smoke, dinner eaten from a plastic tray, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, nuts, berries, trail mix, fresh fruit, homemade ice cream, watery lemonade, pond water, sweat…


low pressure water from the shower, soft water, heavy sleeping bag, scratchy blanket, slab of a pillow, gentle sway of bunk beds, feel of cool air from ceiling fans or a/c, slap of a pillow in a fight, bare feet on hard cool concrete, feel of wooden rungs as you climb into…

Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: The cabin held two sets of bunks, their metal frames shining like stainless steel. I sat on the lower one, then jumped up, startled by the soft, satin spread. A whoosh of cold, disinfected air blew past me. I tried to drop my bedraggled duffel in disgust but was afraid it would defile the floor. Marble tiles? Central air? Are you kidding me?…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Metaphor) The campfire crackled and danced, a fiery fairy throwing its sparkling blessings over the crowd…

Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-25-smallSetting is much more than just a backdrop, which is why choosing the right one and describing it well is so important. To help with this, we have expanded and integrated this thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Each entry has been enhanced to include possible sources of conflict, people commonly found in these locales, and setting-specific notes and tips, and the collection itself has been augmented to include a whopping 230 entries—all of which have been cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. So if you’re interested in seeing a free sample of this powerful Setting Thesaurus, head on over and register at One Stop.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoOn the other hand, if you prefer your references in book form, we’ve got you covered, too, because both books are now available for purchase in digital and print copies. In addition to the entries, each book contains instructional front matter to help you maximize your settings. With advice on topics like making your setting do double duty and using figurative language to bring them to life, these books offer ample information to help you maximize your settings and write them effectively.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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10 Responses to Setting Thesaurus Entry: Sleep-Away Camp

  1. Jonathon, I don’t know if this helps but when I went to camp, all of the teen/adult helpers were called camp counselors.

  2. I am having a hard time coming up with the names of workers around camp. I know there’s a camp counselor and director or warden. Any suggestions?

  3. PJ Hoover says:

    What a unique location! It’s like a horror movie, too 🙂

  4. Becca says:

    It may be obvious that the sleep-away camp I attended was a little…rustic. lol. Donna, you may have to tweak the details to fit your atmosphere.

    CR, I’m glad you had fun at your camp. Mine was fun, too, but it was the first time I was away from home and I remember being really really homesick.

    Thanks, Bish!

  5. Angela says:

    Becca did an awesome job on this one. Go Becca!

  6. Donna says:

    Oh my freakin’ god I love you guys. Thanks so much! You have no idea how much this is going to help me!

  7. C.R. Evers says:

    Another great list. It put me in mind of my own sleep away camp years. One year I came home so bitten by misquitos that my body was litterally covered. There wasn’t more than an inch of me that didn’t have a bit. Camp was fun. The aftermath-itching was not! :0)

  8. Bish Denham says:

    Wonderful! I love your examples. Keep up the good work.

  9. Bish Denham says:

    Wonderful! Keep up the good work.

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