The beautiful afternoon passed by as my son continued to nap and my daughters amused themselves with diving and jumping into the deep end of the lake. It was close to 4 PM when we noticed that a group of the campers had gathered at the entrance to the beach and stood waiting in their bathing suits and with towels wrapped around their necks. With every passing moment more and more campers arrived. They all stood there waiting and amiably chatting. By 4 o’clock it looked like all the campers were waiting at the gate and the noise level had risen accordingly. A couple of counselors were checking campers in on the buddy board, in groups of two. Slowly the beach began to fill up as campers trickled in. The girls got out of the water and raced back to the beach to wrap up in their towels. I followed them and sat in the chair beside my sleeping son. I knew it wouldn’t be long before he awoke, especially with all the commotion going on around him.
“Hi Nurse!” Mark called to me. He was the tall dude who ended up capsizing my kayak that morning.
“Hi Mark! How ya doin’?” I called out to him.
“Pretty good thanks!” He said as he spread out his towel a few feet in front of me in the shade. His friend did the same.
“I see that you have dried off from your piano key experience this morning!” I smiled.
“Oh ya! That was sweet. I’m going to try again until I can get it. I still have a week and a half to nail it!” He said as he lay down on his belly on his towel and opened a book.
“It’s good to have goals Mark.” I nodded. “So what is everyone doing down at the beach today?” I asked as I watched more campers walk by.
“Oh, well, it general swim.” He said like I should know this.
“And what, exactly, is general swim? Can you fill me in?”
“Every day at 4 o’clock all the campers come down for an hour on the beach.”
“So everyone swims for an hour at general swim everyday?”
“Nah, not necessarily. Some swim, some tan, some goof around in the shallow end, some read.” He said as he waved his book at me.
“Aha. I see.”
“So all the boys are coming down to the beach?” my younger daughter asked as she sat wrapped and shivering in her towel.
“Sounds like it.” I said. Her eyes grew big. Seems like we were both thinking the same thing. “That’s gonna be a lot of testosterone!” Although, I am not sure my seven year old daughter knew exactly what testosterone was. I decided we would stick around for this. It could be very interesting.
It took about ten minutes, but finally all the boys were checked in and were sprawled on the beach. Then, it seemed, out of nowhere four life guards appeared. It was the counseling staff with red life guard t-shirts on over their bathing suits. Lydia stood in the middle of the beach while Emily, Amy, and Bobbo marched out onto the L shaped dock holding flutter boards and whistles dangling from lanyards around their necks. Amy pulled her long hair up into a high ponytail. She then slipped her t-shirt and whistle off and placed them on top of her flutter board, and then slid into the deep end of the water. She then proceeded to swim out to the raft with the t-shirt and whistle on top of the flutter board raised above the water. It almost looked like she was trying to deliver a pizza! My daughters and I watched this effort in amazement. Amy successfully did a side stroke out to the raft and managed to deliver the flutter board and her shirt, totally dry, onto the raft before she climbed up the ladder onto it. She pulled her lifeguard tank top over her dripping bathing suit, pulled her whistle over her head, picked up her flutter board and gave Emily and Bobbo the thumbs up. Bobbo then turned to look at Lydia on the beach. I noticed they exchanged a very slight nod. Then it happened. The whistles blew!
It startled me in my chair. My daughters’ heads snapped up. My son jolted awake. What in the name of Sasquatch? I quickly picked up my son and placed him on my lap as we watched.
The four counselors shouted loudly and simultaneously, “BUDDIES! 1, 2, 3!” There was movement on the beach and in the shallow end as the campers scrambled to grab a hand of a fellow camper and hold their hands in the air. Then…silence as they waited.
“Is anyone missing their buddy?” Bobbo yelled.
Total silence continued.
“Does everyone have their buddy?”
“Yes,” responded eighty male campers.
“Excellent! Welcome to general swim. The deep end is now open.”
The whistles blew again and it seemed the beach came to life as about a dozen campers dashed pell-mell into the water and swam frantically towards the raft.
You could glimpse the occasional arm or kicking foot in the midst of the chaos. The group didn’t take a minute to reach the raft and start jumping and diving as Amy, nonplussed, stood guard.
I looked around and noticed, just as Mark had said, camper were busy with various activities. Some campers were in the shallow end throwing a Frisbee around. Lots of campers sat reading comic books. Some campers were tanning. One camper looked like he had bedded down for a deep sleep. Every once in a while a whistle would blow and a life guard would correct a camper.
My daughters noticed a few of the boys expanding on their efforts in the sand as they started to build a large sand castle. The girls got up to assist them by filling their pails with sand and giving it to the boys. The campers were so sweet and welcomed them to join in the work. There was, amazingly, no arguments amongst the group of about six kids who were now working on digging a moat around the lopped-sided castle.
My son gradually had woken up more and eventually scrambled from my lap to join in. I followed him and sat a few feet away from the construction site. My son was a bit of a bull in a china shop but one little camper seemed to take him under his wing and directed him where to pour the water, so as to protect the castle from complete destruction! It was pretty cute to watch. So heart warming.
And then…it happened again…the whistles blew!
“BUDDIES! 1, 2, 3!”
Again I was startled, and so were my kids, I noticed. My son almost fell over into the sand castle but one of the boys put out a hand to steady him. All activity stopped and silence ensued as campers grabbed hands again. I noticed a few of the guys in the deep end had to swim to each other and tread water as they held their hands high above in the air.
“Is anyone missing their buddy?” Muddy called out.
“Does everyone have their buddy?”
“Yes,” the eighty voices responded.
“Excellent. Continue to enjoy general swim.” The whistles blew and the cacophony began again.
This was quite the operation!