The bell rang as I ran down the steps from the bathroom. There was a small crowd a few feet from the bottom of the steps. I noticed the tiny Deer hut camper, Stewart, in the middle of a crowd of about eight kids. I had a brief moment of concern as I walked by thinking maybe the crowd was bullying him, so I slowed my pace to observe.
“You go, bro!” A tall Bear hut camper gave Stewart a high five.
“You are my hero, little man!” Said a Cord hut camper. Stewart beamed with delight.
Oh good. No need to worry. Just some camper encouragement. My heart warmed and I smiled at the group. It was the kind of thing that made me love camp even more.
“Yay Stewart!” I pumped my fist and cheered as I walked past even though I had no idea what they were cheering for. The group laughed in response.
“See! Even Nurse Anne is impressed.”
I waved at them and walked over to the picnic table where my kids had finished up styling hair. Anita’s hair stuck a good foot out from her head and looked a tangled mess. Ryan now had about twenty-five tiny pigtails covering his head.
“That’s not gonna be fun removing all of those!” I commented to Ryan as he got up from the picnic table. My three kids giggled and danced around, obviously delighted with the havoc they had wreaked.
“Who says I’m gonna remove them? I think I will keep my hair like this for as long as I can.” Ryan replied. My three kids laughed.
“Me too.” Ashley said as she fluffed her hair out even more. The kids cheered and clapped. “How much do we owe you for the beautiful hair dos?”
“Candy,” my son responded and my daughters cheered again.
“I think we can do that.” Ryan responded. “Can we pay you tomorrow night? I should have a mountain of candy and snacks to share with you then.”
“We sure will!” Ashley chimed in.
“A mountain of treats?” Daughter One’s eyes glazed over as her tongue stuck out.
“Yup.” Ryan said.
“Where will this candy mountain come from?” I asked.
“All the confiscated candy that the campers get from their parents during Visitor’s Day.”
“Seriously? Parents will bring their campers tons of candy.”
“Oh ya. By this time of the week the parents will have received one, maybe two letters from their campers complaining about how the food is so awful, they are starving and they never get any treats.”
“That’s so not true though!” I protested. “The food is actually really good. Everyone is well fed. You guys even offer snacks after general swim.”
“We all know that but the parents don’t. So, feeling guilty, and in an attempt to bribe their campers into staying one more week, they bring candy.” Ryan explained.
“And we confiscate it all.” Anita added.
“Then we sort it into nut-free and not nut-free. We throw out anything that ‘may contain nuts’ and then we throw a big party with the safe treats.” Ryan said.
“It’s kind of a nice way to congratulate the campers on surviving Visitor’s Day.”
“Surviving Visitor’s Day? People don’t survive Visitor’s Day?”
“Usually we lose one or two campers when their parents arrive on Visitor’s Day. Maybe they were coping just fine, but then they see their Mum…and the balance is tipped. They cave. They cry. They go home.”
“Despite the candy?”
“Despite the candy.”
“Oh that’s too bad. I wonder how many campers stay just for the big candy mountain celebration?” I asked.
“I would bet a large percentage!” Ryan laughed. “I, myself, barely made it even with the promise of candy! I was so close to leaving. Actually, I even chased my parents’ car down the road, crying, my first year here. One of the counselors had to run after me. But the mountain of candy that night…well…that was the sweet, sweet taste of victory.” Ryan laughed at his memory.
“No kidding! Wow! Never would have pegged you for a deserter, Ryan!”
“Oh I loved camp but it’s tough when your parents arrive. It’s like two separate worlds colliding. It’s hard on the kids. I sort of wish they would abolish Visitor’s Day for that reason.”
“And many others!” Anita added with a grimace. I laughed.
“Well I guess I will experience it for myself tomorrow.” I said. Anita and Ryan nodded.
“Hey, speaking of celebrations…why was everyone congratulating Stewart?”
“Oh. He dropped off a ginorm of unparalleled size.” Ryan responded.
“I beg your pardon?” I paused, confused. Did he catch a large fish? Anita and Ryan exchanged a sheepish look.
“Ummm…” Ryan pointed towards the bathrooms I had just left.
“Noooooo….” I said as I put two and two together.
Ryan and Anita nodded silently.
Ryan and Anita nodded again. Anita shrugged like she couldn’t understand the physics either.
Ryan and Anita nodded.
“All I can say, Anne, is that it’s the ‘Boys Session’ where this kind of thing is admired. Bowel movements and the passage of gas are always a big hit.” Anita replied.
Boys. Indeed. Difficult to understand. And…I had cheered for him too….oh dear.