Summer Camp, pt. 7

Tre’s been asking me if he can help out more.

“Sure! You can take out the trash!”

“Uh. That’s not what I mean,” he replied. “I’m thinking, you know, counselor work.”

“Well, you can help Waikiki write her puppet show.”

“Uh. Not exactly.”

I rattled off a dozen things: teaching the kids water slide tricks, working on the tree house, cleaning camp, planting a garden, and more. Still no takers.

“You could do the shopping for us in town?” I said at last, trying to think of everything.

“Bingo!” said Tre.

“Great! Why don’t you take some of the kids with you, so they can see the sights?”

Waikiki, Hahon, and Cadence were all busy working on the puppet show.

That left Blake and Gerald.

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I handed Tre the shopping list, and the most important thing on the list I wrote on the bottom with a big purple marking pen: Have fun!

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When Tre and the boys got home, I asked Tre how it had gone.

“Cool,” he said. “They make great coffee in the city.”

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I asked Blake and Gerald what they most enjoyed about the outing.

“The cat videos,” said Blake. Gerald nodded.

“They got good Wi-Fi,” said Blake.

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Camp is nearly over. I thought back to the first day, when the kids were just arriving.

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Gerald’s mom had seemed so worried when she dropped him off.

“You sure you’ve done this before?” she asked.

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She had put on a brave smile for her son. But that first day, Gerald seemed so nervous.

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“It’s only six weeks,” she told him. “That’s nothing, right, son?”

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I tried to busy myself trimming the flowers during their goodbye.

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“You’ll have a great time. And… you can always call, if you need to,” she said.

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At last, she gave him a hug goodbye.

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“Want some ice cream?” I asked Gerald. But he wouldn’t say a word to me. He just ran straight inside.

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I chatted with his mom for a few minutes, assuring her that her son would be fine. After she left, I went to find Gerald to make sure he had settled in.

I found him talking with Hahon.

“Camp’s the greatest,” Hahon was saying. “We’re gonna find waterfalls and play chess and play pirates. You’ll see! It’ll be super!”

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But Gerald didn’t look like he was expecting a fun summer.

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And now, six weeks later, Gerald has seven new friends and loads of confidence.

On our last day, we took a trip to the island.

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Blake asked if it were true that pirates really had settled here, burying treasure and living out at the Bluffs, and did the sea monster really protect the loot that lay buried in the Spanish Armada off the coast?

Joel hadn’t heard that.

“It’s what Gerald says,” said Blake.

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We traipsed down to the beach. If there were one place where we could find buried treasure, that was the place!

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Before we started digging, Gerald spoke up.

“I–uh–I sort of made that up,” he said. “About the treasure? I read it in a book, but not a book that happened here, so I. I just invented it.”

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“Well, Gerald,” I said, “That’s one of the greatest inventions of a story I’ve heard! And so realistic that you had us all going! Have you ever considered a career as an author?”

“You think?” said Gerald. “Would people really read books I wrote?”

“I would,” said Hahon.

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Waikiki wasn’t so impressed.

“It’s a long way to come for a wild goose chase,” she said.

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“I mean, I gave up puppet show rehearsal to come all the way out here. And now you’re telling me there’s not even any treasure?”

Gerald chuckled.

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“There could be treasure,” said Tre, pulling out his phone.

He and Joel searched the web to see what reports they could find of ancient ship wrecks off the coast of Windenburg.

“You guys come up with anything?” I asked.

“Oh, I think so!” said Joel.

“You finding what I’m finding?” asked Tre.

“Yeah! Says here there’s a great little restaurant on the island. Serves the best fish and chips anywhere! Now if that isn’t treasure, I don’t know what is!”

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Summer Camp, pt. 5

AN: Many thanks to Pegasus143/MakPlays for writing some of Hahon, Cadence, and Waikiki’s dialogue.

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Leave it to Joel to always help me see that everything is really all right and there’s never much reason to worry.

“Remember how I mentioned that my big brother was always bugging me and my little sister?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well, Amelia and I decided that we’re developing resilience, insight, and strategy. I’ve already used a lot of what I’ve learned from dealing with my brother at school, and it helps me get along with everybody.”

“I don’t have siblings!” announced Gerald. “And it’s a good thing, too! I think if I ever had any, I’d tell my mom, ‘Take them back to the baby store!’ Plus, what would she want with other kids when she’s got me? I’m the perfect child!”

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We all laughed.

“Another thing my sister and I learned,” said Joel, “is to make our own traditions. So we created a tradition that whenever we had a lousy day, we’d do something great the next day to make it a special one.”

I turned to Gerald and Hahon. “What do you want to do tomorrow to make it a special day?”

“I have an idea! Let’s go find some waterfalls! There’s got to be more around the neighborhood!”

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“Yes!” said Gerald. “We’ll make it an adventure. But just kids! No big kids or teens and no grown ups!”

“That sounds like a great idea,” I said.

I headed out to see how Tre was doing. He looked pleased with his painting.

“Check it out,” he said.

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We looked together at his canvas. There was movement and quiet. I really liked it.

“I wanted to get it all out,” he said, “you know, just express myself. I guess it’s a little wild, but I like it.”

“I do, too,” I said. “It’s interesting. I like how I feel when I look at it.”

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Back inside, Gerald was giving Cadence a long hard stare.

“I don’t get it,” Cadence said. “Why is everyone acting all strange? Everyone’s either sad, mad, or tired.”

“Not me,” said Gerald. “I’m stoic.”

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“Stoic?” Cadence asked. “I know that word, but I never heard a kid use it. How do you know that word?”

“Oh, I know all sorts of things,” said Gerald.

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“Stow it?” asked Waikiki. “Where are you going to stow it? And what are you stowing?”

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“Not stow it,” yelled Gerald. “Sto-ick! Haven’t you heard of stoic? Like the ancient Greeks?”

“Sure,” said Waikiki. “I was just messing with you.”

“You remember what happened last time you teased someone,” said Gerald. “He teased you back!”

“I still can’t believe that he called me a woofum!” Waikika complained.

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“Wait… that’s why you were grouchy?” Cadence asked.

“Yes!” said Waikiki. “I hate being called names!”

“I love being called names,” said Gerald. “Names like… Perfect Potato Head! Brilliant Bobby! Better than Bosco!”

“Gerald the Genius Ginormous Brainiac!” laughed Waikiki.

“You guys are nuts,” said Cadence.

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Gerald, Waikiki, and Cadence headed off to practice a puppet show, and Blake came to keep me company while I cleaned up the kitchen and began fixing up sack lunches for the kids’ adventure the next day.

“Is everybody happy again?” Blake asked.

“I am!” I replied. “How about you?”

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“I’m happy here,” Blake said. “That popcorn was delicious.”

“Are you ready for an adventure tomorrow?”

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“Of course!” Blake replied. “That’s what camp’s all about, right? Adventures! What are we going to do?”

I told him about the waterfall hunt. “Do you think  you’ll be able to find more?”

“Without doubt,” said Blake. “The gneiss formations, combined with the presence of a southern flowing stream, indicate that waterfalls should be quite common in this locale.”

“Have you been reading my geology books?”

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After the kids were in bed, while I was waiting for the last batch of cookies to bake, Tre joined me for late-night snack.

“Not a bad day,” Tre said.

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“Seriously?” I asked.

“Sure thing!” he replied. “Do you think I would’ve even done a painting today if I didn’t have something I needed to express? But I did! And the painting was really fun to do. And I think it’s not half-bad. All in all, a pretty good day.”

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