Broken paddles, broken dreams

Shawn stumbled onto the stage where Lydia grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Shawn! What’s the matter? What are you saying?” Lydia sounded alarmed.

“Sabotage….sabotoge….” Shawn sputtered as he tried to catch his breath.

I felt a tug on my t-shirt. I looked over at daughter number two. She looked confused and slightly horrified.

“Mummy?! What is ‘sab a tosh’?” she whispered.

“Ruin. It means ruin, sweetheart.” I whispered back. My three kids’ eyes widened in terror. “I think it is just a show, you guys. Don’t worry. Shhhh. Just watch. OK?” They nodded but were obviously skeptical. My son hopped off his chair and scrambled into my lap.

“Shawn! Calm down and tell us what you saw.” Lydia coaxed him.

“OK. OK.” Shawn took deep gulps of air. “I was down by the boat house. I was returning a life jacket. I go in there and I discovered the boat house is an absolute disaster.”

“Disaster? Waddaya mean a disaster?” Lydia looked bewildered.

“Paddles thrown all over the floor. A couple of the paddles were even busted! Life jackets tossed in the water to float away. The canoes are knocked over and two of them are in the middle of the lake.” Shawn took a couple of more deep breaths and shook his head in sadness and confusion.

“Shawn! No. It can’t be true! Who would do that?”

“I don’t know Lydia. I don’t know.”

“With busted paddles, no lifejackets, no canoes…how could Camp Acorn still have canoeing class?”

“That’s just it Lydia. We wouldn’t be able to have canoeing at camp at all…and without canoeing…what kind of camp would we be?”

“Possibly the worst camp ever! Nobody would ever come to Camp Acorn again…and we would be ruined. Camp Acorn would cease to exist…” A small gasp rippled through the audience.

“I shudder to think of it. I love this place Lydia.” Shawn’s pitiful expression almost made me tear up. No doubt about it. These guys were goooood.

“I feel sick to my stomach!” Lydia put a hand to her mouth and paused momentarily, then snapped her head up and looked to the rapt audience. “We can’t let this happen to our beloved Camp Acorn.” Lydia said, barely above a whisper.

“No,” replied a little Deer hut boy.

“We can’t let this happen to our beloved Camp Acorn CAN WE CAMPERS?” Lydia bellowed.

“NOOOOOO!” the campers shouted in response.

“Will you help us save Camp Acorn?”


“Will you help us find out who is sabotaging Camp Acorn and bring them to justice?”

“YESSSSSSS!” Campers and counselors jumped to their feet and pumped the air with their fists. 

“OK campers. Let’s divide up into teams and see if we can restore camp AND solve the mystery of who is trying to destroy camp!”


At that point the entire dining hall erupted into complete mayhem. Counselors were hollering, campers were screeching. And then out of all this disorder…another conga line formed and soon…the whole camp was part of a dancing conga line. Even the kitchen staff stopped washing dishes to participate.

“Let’s save Camp Acorn! Let’s save Camp Acorn!” 

Well. I couldn’t just sit there and watch, could I? Nope. I picked my son off my lap and planted him on his feet and we inserted ourselves into the conga line. My daughters jumped up and followed. Fr. Brian led the rest of the ‘director’s table’ into the fray as we snaked around the dining hall and out the door.


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