Day one. Morning instructions.

After I had finished up my documentation I perused the list of meds for after lunch. Only a couple, so that would be easy. I pulled them, placed them in med cups and penciled the campers’ names on there. Now I would be ready to go after lunch.

I skipped up the back staircase to my room to get changed. I put on a bathing suit, slathered on some sunblock and then packed a back pack with a towel, more sunblock, a magazine, a CD player with headphones and slipped on my flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt. I threw the health station key lanyard over my neck. Quick visit to the rest room. Note: always make a visit to the rest room while close to one…cuz you are never very often close to one at camp! I was ready to go but first I popped my head into the camp office on the third floor.

Bill, the director, was in there typing away on one of the two computers.

“Hey Bill!” I sat down in the empty chair beside Bill.

“Oh hey Anne. What’s up? Everything go OK with the medications after breakfast?” Bill asked as he stopped typing and took a sip of his coffee.

“Oh ya, that went fine. I do have a concern though about Blake in the Cord hut though.” I proceeded to explain the situation to Bill who shook his head as I told it.

“Sounds to me like he doesn’t want to be at camp, so he is going to try to manipulate his parents into getting him out of camp.” Bill summarized the situation. I nodded.

“So, are you going to call his parents?” I asked.

“Nope. We rarely call parents. We are going to attempt to manage this ourselves, for now. We will keep a close eye on Blake, see how he does. This is day one at camp. After he goes through his instructions this morning he will probably forget all about it. Besides, he will be so hungry after canoeing, swimming and sailing that he will probably be starved for any food!” Bill predicted. That seemed fair.

“OK thanks Bill! I appreciate it. Well, I’m going to go and read a bit this morning. Can you suggest a quiet spot for me?” I asked as I stood up to leave.

“Quiet spot, eh? Those are few and far between at camp, but at this time of day I would suggest the fishing dock. Look in the wooden supply box on the dock and you will find a folding chair in there. It’s Father Brian’s, but I am sure he won’t mind you using it.”

With that advice, I thanked Bill and was on my way. Back down the staircase, and down the forest path towards the fishing dock. I carefully stepped over roots, and along the stone stairway and popped out of the forest at the waters edge. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. I pulled on my sunglasses.

The fishing dock is a T shaped dock. To the right is a diving board, the wooden supply box and a ladder for climbing in and out of the deep water. To the left is blessedly vacant — a perfect spot for a folding chair.

Sure enough, in the wooden box was a blue folding sports chair that was buried under some flutter boards, a life buoy, a bathing suit, a spider’s web and a shoe. I dusted it off, and dragged it down to the left end of the fishing dock. I popped it open, unzipped my back pack and pulled out my towel, which I draped over the back of the chair. I kicked off my flip-flops, carefully placed my sun glasses on the chair, pulled off my t-shirt and shorts which I folded and tucked into the back pack. Then I turned, ran down the dock, and dove into the lake! Sweet Mary and Joseph! The water was how I would describe as ‘refreshing’! I screamed out under water before I came up for air and a deep breath. I did a quick lap around the roped in area. I climbed out and immediately goose bumps formed all over my skin from the light breeze, so I dove in again. This time the temperature did not seem as bad. I did a couple more laps of the breast stroke, did some somersaults, tread water for a few minutes and just enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. I climbed out of the water and slopped my way back down to my chair leaving a wet trail behind me. I wrapped my towel around my waist, pulled out my magazine, put my sunglasses on, dried my hands off and tuned to the first page. It had been quite awhile since I had had a chance to read a magazine, so I was gonna enjoy this!

“Nurse?” I heard to my right. I looked up and noticed a camper and a counselor starting along the dock.

“Yes? Are you OK?” I responded. I noticed that the camper was softly crying and had a hand protectively wrapped around his abdomen.

“David feels like he is gonna blow chunks.” Responded Mikey helpfully, a seventeen year old counselor. David, a nine year old camper, nodded in agreement and looked at me with big brown doe-like eyes. He seemed to look a little green around the gills.

“Oh, OK buddy. Do you feel like lying down for awhile?” I asked as I pulled my shorts and shirt over my wet bathing suit and slipped my flip flops back on. David nodded and I grabbed the health station key and headed towards them.”Well, let’s make our way up to the infirmary.” I placed a hand on his shoulder and guided him off the dock, back into the forest, stepping over the roots and along the stone stairway (harder on the way up of course and most interesting in a wet bathing suit), into the main house and up the back staircase.

The “infirmary” is actually a vacant counselor room on the guys floor. It is directly across from the health station. I lead David into the room, and had him lay down on the lower bunk, placed a plastic garbage can beside his head and then went to the health station. I unlocked the door and quickly grabbed a thermometer.

“Is it OK if I go back to instructions? Do you still need me?” Mikey asked.

“I think we are fine. I will have David lay down and we can check before lunch and see what his status is then.” I excused Mikey.

I went back to David who looked pretty pathetic laying on the bunk bed.

“Let’s take your temperature David.” I said as I put the thermometer under his tongue. “When did your tummy ache start?”

“After breakfast.” David mumbled around the thermometer.

“So you were able to eat breakfast?” He nodded. “What did you eat?”

“Three muffins and a bowl of cereal and two pieces of toast and some scrambled eggs.” He told me as the thermometer beeped and he pulled it out of his mouth and gave it back to me. I had a look and it was 37.8 C which was totally normal.

“Whoa, dude! That’s a lot of food isn’t it?” I asked.

“Oh ya. It is way more than I would eat at home but it was all soooooo good!” David admitted with a shrug. If only Blake would agree, I thought!

“And then you went off to your first instruction and the belly ache hit?” I asked.

“Well we were doing sit ups in windsurfing class and that is when I felt like I was gonna barf!” He said as he gently rubbed his belly.

“Why were you doing sit ups in windsurfing?” I asked. David shrugged. Huh.

“So do you think it might be just too much food and then doing the sit ups brought on the nausea?”

“Probably.” David admitted. “I am starting to feel better already.” He said as he curled up on the bed.

“Well, you don’t have a temperature, so let’s go with that theory. Why don’t you just rest for now and I will check on you in a little bit, OK?” I pulled one of the blankets off the shelf and covered him up and gave his hair a little ruffle. I put the thermometer back and locked up the office.

Back down the staircase, and down the forest path, I carefully stepped over roots, along the stone stairway, out onto the dock, and back to the inviting folding chair. I pulled off my soggy shorts and t-shirt and lay them out in the sun on the dock. I picked up my magazine and sat back down into the wet chair. I read a short article before I heard the bell off in the distance signalling time for second instruction. Voices off in the distance as the campers made their way to their next instruction. I wanted to peek on my kids, but resisted the urge.

Three counselors were coming along the pathway to the dock. Beth, Ryan, and Olivia.

“Hi Nurse!” Beth called out and waved. I gave a wave back.

“You guys gonna chill here for a bit?”

“Yup. We have this instruction off, so instead of showers, we are just gonna jump in the lake and do some tanning!” Beth answered cheerfully as they lay their towels down on the dock. The three chatted amiably as they pulled off their shorts and shirts and lay out on their towels.

I went back to the reading and it didn’t take three minutes before I felt kinda drowsy.  I tilted my head back and let the sun warm my face. Such a delicious feeling! The dock swayed ever so slightly from the waves lapping up on the sides. It was like being rocked to sleep when I was abruptly awakened by the bell ringing. A nonstop ringing!

“Awh CRAP!” Beth cried.  “It can’t be a drill so early in the session, can it?” She looked to Ryan and Olivia.

“What the heck?! So much for chillaxing!” Ryan jumped up along with the other two. They quickly slid on their shoes but left their towels and clothes behind. They went racing along the dock.

“What’s up guys?” I called after them.

“Some kinda emergency. We have to go to the main house to see what the problem is.” Ryan called out over his shoulder as he raced away.

With that I pulled on my still wet shorts and t-shirt and slipped on my flip flops. Unlike the counselors I had no intention of running around camp in a bathing suit. No one deserved that mind blowing experience! Particularly after I had pranced around in my inadequate jammies the night before!

I chased after the counselors along the dock, back into the forest, stepping over the roots and along the stone stairway and then around to the front of the main house. The whole time I had terrifying thoughts of what I might encounter. Another spinal? An anaphylactic response to a bee sting? Fractured limbs? I was mildly sweaty and my breathing was rapid. I had to stop and take a few deep breaths by the time I reached the main house.

Two counselor were on the second floor balcony shouting out directions to all the incoming staff. They were dividing up the camp and sending the counselors out to each of the sections of the camp. Counselors were taking off at break-neck speeds in groups of twos and threes. That seemed weird. I took a couple more deep breaths and watched.

“What can I do to help?” I shouted up to the balcony. “Is anyone hurt?” I asked.

“Oh hey Nurse! No, not hurt as far as we know. We have a missing camper. He didn’t show up for second instruction.” I nodded. OK. Not my department really, I figured. I sat down on the bottom steps into the main house to catch my breath and watched as a new group of counselors arrived for instructions.

“We have a missing camper. It is David from the Deer hut. He did not show up to second instruction. You three have been assigned the waterfront. Go!” And with that the three counselors tore off down the road towards the water front yelling at the top of their lungs. “Daaaaaavid! Daaaaaavid!” I listened and you could hear the echos of counselors shouting his name from all corners of the camp. It was pretty impressive. Another two counselors arrived and got assigned another section of camp to search. Wow! Off they ran shouting out “Daaaaavid!”

My breathing was slowing and I was feeling the sweat on my back start to dry. Wait! What the heck? David? Wasn’t David the little dude I just put in the infirmary? My pulse quickened. Frick!

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