Day one. Aftermath of the "missing camper".

Ooops! David, my little sick camper in the infirmary, was the missing camper! I wondered if I had missed something? Was there some form of communication that I had failed? Should I have found out David’s next instruction and gone to tell the instructors?

I quickly stood up and ran up the stairs to the staff on the second floor balcony who were conferring with each other. I could hear loud footsteps throughout the main house as more counselors are scouring the place looking for David.

“Oh hey guys? Hey guys! I hate to interrupt…” I said to the group as I approached.

Lydia, the assistant director, turned around.

“There is a sick camper in the….” I started to tell her as a Bobbo busted through the balcony doors with David in tow looking sleepy and confused. Lydia stepped past me, a look of relief on her face.

“This is David. The missing Deer hut camper.” Bobbo patted David on the head and then bent over, hands on his knees and took deep breaths. His forehead glistened with sweat. David gave a small wave as he noticed he was the center of attention.

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“Oh good! Whew! Ring the bell.” Lydia, obviously relieved, indicated to another staff member.

“Where did you find him?” She turned and asked Bobbo.

“He was in the infirmary.” Bobbo lifted his head, his breathing now slowing.

At that moment Mikey burst through the doors onto the balcony and came to an abrupt stop when he saw David. “They found you!” Now Mikey also bent over with his hands on his knees and took deep breaths. 

They rang the bell. Three rings, three times, indicating the emergency was over. We all plugged our ears cuz, dude, that bell is super loud up close.

“Well that took eleven minutes. Really pretty good. Let’s do our debriefing.” Lydia said as she they gathered up and started down the stairs.

“What should we do with David?” Bobbo asked, motioning towards David, still standing there and he waved again.

“Are you feeling any better David?” I asked gently. “Do you feel well enough to go back to instructions?”

David nodded. “Ya. I fell asleep for a little bit before the bell and all the running up and down the halls started. I’m OK now. So what is going on?” David asked innocently.

“I’ll explain it as we go down to the field.” Bobbo whispered to him behind his hand. David nodded and followed after Bobbo.

There were about fifteen counselors and staff were gathering around the flag pole, just outside the main building doors. They were all returning from the far reaches of the camp. I followed Lydia and Mikey down the stairs and listened to her address the sweaty and exhausted group.

“Nice work everyone!” Lydia raised her voice so all could hear. “Eleven minutes!” A cheer from the crowd. High fives and fist pumps.

“So was that a drill?” Someone from the back asked.

“Nope. No drill. That was the real thing. David was in the infirmary.” Lydia stated. I felt a deep blush crawl up from my neck to my face. I felt eyes on me as some glanced my way.

“Who brought David to the infirmary?” Lydia asked looking over the crowd. Mikey raised his hand.

“I did. He felt sick during first instruction, so he saw the Nurse and she put him in the infirmary.” Mikey explained with his head down, looking sheepish. I didn’t think it was it possible for my face to go a deeper red, but it did!

“So Mikey, you know that you are supposed to put the camper’s name on the list on the bulletin board, right? That way if anyone is missing, the instructors can look there before they call a missing camper.” Lydia explained to Mikey. He nodded quietly.

“I forgot. Sorry everyone.” Mikey was obviously also embarrassed by the commotion we had caused. We exchanged a glance, both of us feeling pretty badly. Shawn gave him a soft punch to the arm. Will gave him a nuggie to the head. Mikey playfully slapped at them.

“The good news is that now we don’t have to run the drill for the campers, since they just learned the routine during an emergency!” Lydia said with a smile.

“Did anyone encounter any problems during the emergency?” Lydia looked around the group. This elicited some suggestions for improvements which Lydia noted on her clipboard.

“OK. That’s a wrap. Let’s go debrief the campers now.” Lydia snapped her pen to the clipboard and led the group down to the field at the far end of camp where all the campers apparently were waiting.

I wormed my way up to Lydia as we started down the road toward the field. 

“I am so sorry! I had no idea about the bulletin board!” I told Lydia with my hands clasped together as though begging forgiveness.

Lydia turned to me as we walked and gently pushed my hands down. 

“Don’t be silly. It was not your fault. It is the counselors job to put the camper’s name on the bulletin board. Please don’t feel responsible. We so appreciate you being here to volunteer your services!” She smiled at me as we trudged up a little hill towards the field. That made me feel a little better. But not much. I still felt pretty badly for my part in the commotion.

As we crested the hill I could see the gathering. All the campers sitting quietly on the grass! What a site! They were organized into their huts in neat little rows. Twenty Deer hut campers (now with David sitting at the back), twenty from the Cord hut, twenty from the Rock hut and nineteen from the Bear hut (marijuana dude was gone of course).  Six counselors were walking slowly up and down through the rows, keeping the campers seated and quiet. At the far end were my three kids with Anita and Sammy. I walked over and sat down with my kids. My son scrambled up to sit in my lap. My daughters sat on either side of me, looping their arms in mine. They were still wearing their bathing suits and were wrapped in their damp beach towels.

“What happened Mummy?” My one daughter whispered in my ear as Lydia started to speak.

“Listen. They are going to tell you.” I whispered back.

“Great job this morning guys!” Lydia addressed the campers in a loud voice. “Now you know what to do in the case of an emergency. When you hear the constant bell ring, wait for instructions from your counselors. They will get you down here quickly and quietly. It is important that you stay here, quiet and organized into your huts like you are right now, until the ‘all clear’ is called. Does everybody understand?” The campers nodded, some quietly murmured.

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One little Deer hut kid put up his hand to ask a question. Lydia acknowledged him. 

“Did someone drown?” He asked wide eyed. This question stirred up some of the campers. I shuddered.


“No! No one drowned!” Lydia shook her head and smiled and told the group. “We had a missing camper and we found him, so everything is OK!” Some of the kids turned toward David who shrugged his shoulder. A couple of the boys giggled and David gave a sheepish smile.

“Now, at this point you are all to go back to your second instruction. Thanks everyone!” Lydia and the group of staffers began to make their way back to the main house. The campers began to get up and head off in various directions. I noticed a big group around David, asking questions. He seemed to be enjoying his new celebrity status.

I picked up my son and placed him on his feet. I stood up and brushed off my now totally wet shorts. These would be a doozy to try to wash at camp I thought as I had a quick look at my rear end! The girls quickly stood up too and began jumping up and down, pulling on my arms.

“Mummy! Mummy! We had swimming lessons! Come and see what we can do!”

I looked down at them and they were so excited, faces bright with smiles. My son was dancing around in his bathing suit with his towel wrapped around his neck. I looked at Sammy and Anita who are at the ready. I considered the sports chair, music, and magazine waiting for me on the dock on the other side of camp.

“Aw…why don’t you two take the rest of the morning off?” I said to Sammy and Anita. They were taken by surprise. They looked at each other and then back at me.

“Serously?” Sammy asked. “Cuz it is not a problem….”

“Naw. Go ahead. I will see you after lunch. These guys wanna show me their swimming!” I said picking up my son. The girls started to skip back towards the beach.

“Thanks!” Sammy said with a huge smile. Anita looked like a kid on Christmas. They started to jog towards the main house and I overheard them discussing what they were going to do with their extra ninety minutes of free time.

“I’m gonna catch some Z’s!” Sammy said delightedly.

“I’m gonna shave my legs!” Anita said determinedly.

I followed the kids back to the beach where I spent the remainder of the morning watching them demonstrate various strokes and ‘rescues’ using flutter boards. I didn’t have another thought about the sports chair, music, and magazine waiting for me on the dock!








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