The conga line danced out of the dining hall and around the flagpole. It came to a stop when Lydia stood on top of a picnic table and blew a loud two finger whistle. The campers and counselors gathered around the bottom of the picnic table.
“Campers! We are going to divide up into eight teams. Please listen for your name.”
Lydia proceeded to refer to her clip board and call out each of the campers names as they peeled off and formed smaller teams. They had even included my three children and Yvonne and Shelby in the groups. My girls, placed on the same team, ran to join their group and seemed delighted to be a part of it all. The campers seemed cool with it too as they were welcomed by their team with high fives. I noticed Sammy, our child care counselor, went with them also. My son looked at me in surprise when his name was called.
“Do you want to be a part of a team and help solve the mystery?”
“No thank you,” he whispered.
“OK,” I crouched down, “what would you rather do this afternoon?”
“Play in the sand?” He asked and shrugged his little shoulders.
“Play in the sand it is!” I patted my shoulder and my son ran around behind me for a piggy back ride. I hiked him up and went over to his team.
“I regret to inform you that my son will not be joining your team today.” I told Ryan, who appeared to be in charge of Team 4.
“You won’t?” Ryan looked at my son. He honestly looked disappointed. I had to believe it was an act because schlepping an almost four year old around a camp and keeping him entertained would be a challenge in and of itself.
“Nooooo,” my son responded shyly, “we are going to play in the sand.”
“Well that does sound like a good idea but we are going to be playing lots of games all over camp today. Are you sure you don’t want to be on my team?”
“Nooooo! Play in the sand!!”
“Thanks anyways Ryan! Good luck team 4! Hope you solve the mystery.” I said as we started towards the stairs.
“Thanks Nurse Anne,” the team 4 kids called back to me.
Lydia whistled again and the crowd quietened. I stopped to listen.
“Each team is going to make up a team name and a cheer. Meet back here in thirty minutes. And don’t forget to go to Nurse Anne if you have to.”
“Well…sounds like you are going to be my camp nurse assistant!” I told my son over my shoulder as we watched a few of the campers start to follow us to the back stairs.
“Yay!” My son responded.
With my son on my back, going up the stairs was a bit of a hardship, especially after having done my run earlier, but I kept on. Three campers passed us on the stairway. By the time I got up there the three of them were reading the joke of the day and having a laugh. I unlocked the door to the health office and then placed my son on the counter top.
“I have an assistant today, guys. He will be giving you your medications.”
“Oh cool,” one of the campers said.
I pulled out the medicines from the cupboard and placed one each in the medicine cups. I poured three Dixie cups of water too. My son called each camper by name, gave them the medicine cup and the water. The first camper thanked him, took his medicine, drank the water, and gave my son a high five as he left. The other two followed suit. My son was pretty stoked about the whole thing. Olivia poked her head into the office.
“Are these guys all done?”
“Yup. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ted, though. Just for a status check.”
“He’s right here.” Olivia nodded over her shoulder.
Ted, looking pale, was sitting on the couch in the hall, waiting patiently. I waved him into the office and he had a seat in the chair. Olivia leaned against the doorway and watched.
“Well…how was lunch?” I asked as I pulled out my thermometer and checked his pulse.
“Not too bad. I drank two glasses of juice and had a few bites of food.”
The thermometer beeped. He was afebrile and his heart rate was normal.
“No more nausea?”
“No more belly aches?”
“Are you up for the ‘all camp’?”
“Ya,” he shrugged, “I don’t feel 100% but I would like to try.”
I exchanged skeptical look with Olivia. Hmmmm. I wondered if he was minimizing his symptoms just so he wouldn’t miss the ‘all camp’. I decided to just call him out.
“You are not just saying that you feel better so that you can be in the ‘all camp’, are you?”
“No. Not at all,” he said, but he did look a little sheepish.
Hmmmm. If he did have some virus I could be helping him to spread it everywhere. But he denied symptoms (and I had a witness!) and he didn’t have a temperature.
“Well…I will let you go on three conditions.” I held up three fingers.
“Sure!” Ted nodded and brightened.
“One: you bring a water bottle with you and sip on it all afternoon.” Ted nodded.
“Two: you don’t push it. If you don’t feel well, you come back and rest in the infirmary.” Ted nodded again.
“Three: you wash your hands now, and keep them to yourself. Don’t share your drink either.”
“It’s a deal.” Ted got up and I grabbed my Juniper Breeze hand soap and pumped a generous amount into his outstretched hand. He took a sniff of it and looked at me dubiously, shook his head, and then he started to rub his hands together vigorously.
“Sing the ABC’s Ted and then you can rinse them.” I instructed him and he started to quietly hum the song and my son attempted to join in, singing softly.
Olivia and I looked at each other and nodded. I felt like that was a good compromise. It would be total torture for a kid to lay quietly in the infirmary all afternoon and listen to all the campers outside having the ‘most fun ever’ unless they were deathly ill. I didn’t feel this was the case.
Ted finished humming the song. I turned on the tap water and he rinsed his hands and dried them.
“Thanks Nurse Anne,” Ted said as he dropped his paper towel into the garbage can. “See ya later.” Ted waved and walked past Olivia and she followed him towards the stairs.
“You’re welcome Ted. I hope you are able to enjoy the afternoon.” I picked my son off the counter and placed him on his feet.
“OK buddy. Let’s get your bathing suit on!”
“Yay!” He cheered and raced past Olivia and Ted and ran up the stairs as I locked up the office.
My son’s energy made for a stark contrast to Ted’s obvious fatigue. It stirred a gut feeling inside me. It was not a good gut feeling.