The beginning of a new tradition?

We got back to camp with plenty of time for me to set out the lunch time meds and return to the dining hall with the three kids in tow. I got the girls settled at the table, put my son on my hip, and found three senior staff chilling at their lunch table. Muddy, Lydia, and Angus were only too willing to help with the judging of filthy fingernails. We huddled at the table.

“OK guys, here is the plan: you take the Deer hut, you take Rock hut, you take the Cord hut and I will take the Bear hut. You are inspecting fingernails and their hands, both the back of the hand and the palms. If there is any dirt, even one iota of dirt on their hands or under their fingernails, don’t count that campers hands. Keep track of how many of the kids in the hut have clean hands but keep it a secret. OK?”

They all nodded excitedly and we stepped out of the dining hall where all the campers were lining up for lunch.

“Campers!” Angus yelled, with minimal effect. “CAMPERS!” He yelled again at the top of his lungs as he face went bright red. “This is the clean hands check!” He yelled as the campers turned their attention to him. “Hold out your hands for inspection!” And with that, the four of us went to work.

The older Bear hut campers held out their hands as I stepped slowly along. My son was still on my hip, finger in his mouth, and bent over looking at the hands too.

“Nurse? What is this for?” One camper asked me as I looked at his totally begrimed fingernails. Wow, I thought to myself, I think I could make an impact here. Any amount of hand hygiene had to be an improvement!

“We are starting a clean hands award.” I told him.

“Are mine clean?” He asked eagerly.

“Um…no!” I said with a side ways glance.

“So what is the award?” He asked as I moved to his neighbor.

“Well…the hut with the most clean hands gets a cake.” I said as I continued down the line. Things did not look good for the Bear hut.

“CAKE!” He said as his eyes bulged out of his head.

“What about a cake?” Asked another camper further down the line.

“Did someone say cake?” Another asked.

“Duuuuuuuudes! We can get a cake if we have clean hands!”

“Oh man that sucks! My hands are gross. I just came from arts ‘n crafts and we were painting.” Said the young man who’s hands I was examining.

“Well, I have to say, I do like your color choices.” I said as I looked at this paint encrusted fingernails and nodded. He smirked.

One camper further down the line piped up. “Is it too late? Can I go right now and wash my hands really quickly? I will be super fast!”

I looked down the line at him and noticed that he and three other campers were preparing to make a run for the washrooms. I could also see many of the boys scraping underneath their fingernails and rubbing their hands on their shorts.

“Don’t worry guys. You have more than one chance. I’m gonna do several spot checks over the session and tally up all the numbers. Then at the end of the session we will announce the winner.” This seemed to placate them.

By the time I finished up I only had six Bear hut campers with truly clean hands. The boys called after me. “How many did we get Nurse? Nurse!”

“Sorry guys! That’s top secret!” I said as I motioned to zip my lips closed.

“When are you going to check again?” Another asked.

“That’s double top secret. You will never know, so you must always be ready before every meal!” I said with a wink.

I found Lydia, Muddy, and Angus sitting at their table, looking seriously depressed.

“Well…how did they do?” I asked as I sat down with them and placed my son down on his feet. He scrambled to sit up beside Muddy on the bench.

Lydia had only counted two campers with clean hands in the Deer hut. Muddy had four from the Cord hut. Angus’s results were a little better with seven in the Rock hut. They were pretty dismal numbers though. Out of eighty campers only nineteen kids had clean hands! This just bolstered my resolve to press onward and reinforced the need for serving utensils!

“Some of the hands I saw made my stomach turn! I kept remembering our conversation about hand hygiene and I could not stop thinking of teeny tiny tape worms the whole time I was inspecting their hands!” Angus moaned, head in his hands. Lydia and Muddy nodded in agreement.

“Ya. I’m a guy, and even I was totally grossed out!” Muddy exclaimed shaking his head.

“I personally believe the Deer hut just needs to be hosed down!” Lydia lamented.

“Heads up guys.” I said as I patted Lydia on the back. “It’s an uphill climb, but things can only get better!” I replied.

“Well they couldn’t get much worse!” Lydia grumbled.

Tru dat.

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