The school bell started its constant ring. Then the shouting began.
“Get out of the water! Get out of the water! All campers go to the field! Go to the field. Into your formations,” the counselors yelled.
Campers quickly gathered their things and scurried to the upper field where just a few hours before Josie had enjoyed her family picnic. I tried to wake my son, but it was impossible. Daughters One and Two begrudgingly came out of the water and stood dripping and moping in front of Himself and I. Himself threw them each a towel, instructed them to get their flip flops on and gathered our supplies as we followed the crowd past the huddled staff and counselors and the McDonald’s at the beach entrance. We sat down as a family on the far side adjacent to the Bear Hut campers. My son was still asleep in my arms. The girls sat cuddled together on Himself’s lap as he wrapped his arms around them.
All the campers were sitting in straight lines, in alphabetical order, with their hut mates. The counselors led the campers in the count off. In an organized, somewhat military fashion, the kids counted off, hut by hut. There was a tiny bit of confusion in the Dear Hut, as one camper had quit camp and gone home with his parents– one soul lost. His hut mates were twitter-patted with this news. Same for the Cord Hut–another man down. The Rock Hut had 100% attendance. Then when we moved on the the Bear Hut my suspicions were confirmed: Ted and Fred were the missing campers!
“Ted and Fred are missing!” Mike yelled to Lydia and Shawn at the beach entrance. They looked up and nodded confirmation.
A hush fell over all the campers with the realization that this was not a drill. My daughters looked up at me with fear in their eyes. I was scared too. I grimaced. Ted was just a little over a day out of the operating room from his appendectomy. What if a suture had torn? What his incision had dehisced? What if his bowels were now slipping out of his body, sliding across his abdomen and slithering along the dirty ground?! I imagined Fred trying to gather up his slippery intestines. Sweet baby Jesus! I was horror stricken with the thought.
Immediately a group of five counselors broke from the group at the beach entrance, and with face-masks and snorkels, they ran towards the water. Another group of three counselors ran towards the huts and disappeared into the forest. We could hear them shouting “Fred! Ted!”
The counselors at the beach began a shallow water search. Linking arms they swept their feet across the bottom of the lake, the whole time they shouted “Ted! Fred!”. The group then proceeded towards the deep end and began surface dives in a line as they dove down. The group of assembled campers watched in a petrified silence.
“What are they doing?” Himself whispered to me.
“Looking for bodies,” I whispered back as I shivered. Himself’s eyes widened with shock.
The Bear Hut campers began whispering. They waved over Mike. Mike knelt down beside the boys and listened to them, nodding as they whispered and gesticulated.
“So…what are they saying?” I whispered to Himself. I could tell he was straining to hear the conversation.
“Something about a kayak ride to a restaurant on the other side of the lake. Apparently Ted and Fred were not satisfied with the food at camp,” Himself whispered back.
“You’re kidding?” I looked at Himself with complete disgust. He shook his head.
Mike got up and called out to the other counselors, “Watch the Bear Hut please. I will be right back.”
Mike ran down to Lydia, Shawn and the McDonalds. He tapped Lydia on the shoulder and appeared to be explaining what he had just been told.
Lydia sent Shawn, and the McDonalds up the road. They met with Father Brian who was coming down the road. The foursome then headed towards the boathouse. About one minute later we could hear the motor of the pontoon boat firing up followed by the sound of the aluminum motor boat.
The lifeguards in the water had completed the deep water search and hoisted themselves up onto the dock, breathing heavily. They pulled their masks off as they sat for a moment catching their breaths. They looked dejected as they walked along the dock and up the beach to meet with Lydia. It appeared that Lydia and Mike were giving them an update on the situation. The lifeguards did not looked amused. Mike left the group and came back to the field and I waved him over.
“Do I need to be ready to do CPR?”
“I doubt it. It sounds like they checked out two kayaks right after lunch and managed to paddle over to the Lakeshore Grill on the far side of the lake. Lydia has sent out two boats to drive over there. I’m guessing that the worst thing those guys are suffering from right now is indigestion. No CPR needed.”
“I’m dumbfounded! We saved the kid’s life yesterday and today he is causing this major drama…” Mike just nodded and started back to the other counselors supervising the field.
“Seems like a bit of an ingrate, eh?” Himself leaned over and whispered in my ear.
“That’s not the word I was thinking of. I was thinking more along the lines of a freaking…” I said angrily, as Himself leaned over and placed a finger on my lips.
“Shhh. There are children present,” he chastised me.