The kids got dressed into pants and sweatshirts while I wrung out the clothes in the shower, one at a time. My forearms quickly fatigued with all the wringing. I heard the dinner bell ring, so I hurried to finished up the last few items.
I pushed the bucket down the hall and into our room. I had Himself wring the clothes out again and then he hung each piece on the bungee cord clothes line. It was crowed with wrinkled and soggy clothing. Meanwhile, I got dressed for dinner into dry jeans and long sleeved t-shirt. I put my wet hair up in a pony tail and covered the mess with a baseball cap. Ready for dinner. Ta da!
The campers were lined up outside the dining hall awaiting the signal to enter so it was relatively quiet in there. Anita was sitting with Yvonne and Shelby at the director’s table. Barb and Bill’s absence was felt. Barb was still at the hospital at Bill’s side. I said a little silent prayer that he would be OK. I was really worried.
“Hey Anita. How goes it?” I asked.
“Oh…it’s been a long day.” She sighed and her shoulders slumped as she gazed off into space with a glazed expression.
“I bet it has!” Himself said as we both sat down at the table. Anita had been shouldering the majority of the child care for Yvonne and Shelby while their parents were gone.
The five kids immediately gravitated to each other and danced over to the senior staff table where Angus was sitting and chatting with Lydia. Like bees on honey they crawled all over poor Angus. Hanging from his back and every limb the kids shrieked and giggled while Angus roared like a wounded animal. He seemed to be loving it, so I didn’t interfere.
Father Brian joined us at the table. He had come down from the office after speaking with Barb on the phone. Bill was stable and being closely monitored, Father told us. We all quietly nodded our heads, thankful for the good news but aware of the hole he left behind. Our hearts were heavy.
The quiet we slipped into didn’t last long as the campers burst through the dining hall doors and clambered to their benches. We all rose to hold hands and sing grace. Or perhaps bellow would be a better word.
“This food and drink of our good earth
Reminds us Lord of your great worth
Bless each of us, our families too
Be at our side in alllllll weeeee dooooo.”
Bless us indeed, I thought. And bless our camp family too. Again, my thoughts went to Bill.
Everyone sat down and the LIT 2’s tore through the dining hall dropping off plates and bowls heaped with food. Dinner that evening was roast beef with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots. Hot crescent rolls were delivered in a large melmac bowl. We even had butter!
“So much for roughing it, eh?” Himself said as he passed me the potatoes.
“I love this place,” I responded with a mouth full of crescent roll as I doled out potatoes to my son, sitting beside me.
“It’s because tomorrow is visitors day,” Anita explained as she helped Shelby cut up her roast beef.
“What’s that?” Himself asked.
“Parents come for mass, then a lunch of burgers and dogs and then they have a chance to visit with their campers. They tour the camp. They play on all the equipment.”
“Ohhhh,” Himself responded. “So why the roast beef?”
“A hearty meal makes happy campers.” Anita winked.
I looked at Father Brian who just shrugged. “I don’t think it makes a bit of a difference. If a kid hates camp and wants to go home with his parents on visitors day, I doubt some fancy rolls will be the clincher. The counselors see it as a failure though, so they try to prevent it. I do believe in two things; not every kid is a camper and that a hearty meals makes for a happy director, and that…” he paused for effect, “is most important.” Father grinned mischievously.
“How many do you think you will lose tomorrow?” Himself asked, now curious.
“The projections are for two.” Father Brian responded.
“Well it sure sounds like a fun day!” Himself smiled.
“Oh, it is pretty much the worst day ever for the counselors.” Anita responded.
“Why’s that?” Himself laughed in surprise.
“It’s chaos. It starts with us having to wear our hideous staff shirts. Then consider that our numbers explode from about one hundred people on the property to two hundred and we are responsible for their safety. Add two dozen additional vehicles driving around. Plus some parents take their kids into town and stuff them full of candy and pastries. Not only do we have to keep track of who left with whom, but we have to deal with the camper when they return and inevitably throw up. Then there are the candies and snacks that parents smuggle in for their kids that contain nut products that we have to find and eliminate. Then of course there are the kids who want to pack up and leave. And then there’s a runner. There is always a runner.” Anita sighed deeply as she rested her head in her hands. Father Brian laughed heartily.
“Anita! Such exaggerations!” Father shook his head and laughed more.
“Oh, so it’s not that bad, eh?” I asked, relieved. I was getting a little stressed listening to Anita.
“Nah. The staff shirts are not that hideous.” Father deadpanned.