Painful lessons

The dinner bell rang, and as I locked up the office, I sighed with relief. No Norwalk virus at camp! It reminded me to schedule another clean hands inspection. Tomorrow at breakfast, I thought to myself as I slogged down the stairs.

I headed into the dining hall where Father Brian and Barb sat at the table with Yvonne and Shelby. I could hear the campers talking as they lined up outside the dining hall. Inside the dining hall, however, was as silent as a shadow.

I looked over to the counselors sitting at their dining table and then over to the director’s table. All of them mute, staring off into space except for Shelby who was asleep with her head on the dining table. Everyone was exhausted. Visitor’s Day had demolished us. I sat down in the empty seat beside Father Brian.

“Soooo….how was your day?” I asked Barb and Father Brian a bit nervously. I surely had contributed to the challenges of the day when we had to pack Tim off to the emergency room first thing in the morning.

“It was….taxing.” Father Brain slumped forward and rested his chin in his hand. “My clerical collar prevents me from saying anything else.”

“Visitor’s Day is an exercise in damage control, if you ask me.” Barb added. Father Brian nodded in agreement.

“I do have some good news and some bad news for you.” Father Brain said as he looked over at me.

Good news, bad news

“Hit me.” I sat up stiffly, trying to prepare myself.

“The good news is that Tim’s eye was treated in the emergency room and he is on now on antibiotics. He’s back at camp with some restrictions to his activities.”

“Yeah!” I gently clapped my hands together. “So my incompetence did not blind the boy?”


“And his parents aren’t going to sue camp for all it’s worth?”


“Thank you Jesus.” I nodded as tears prickled my eyes and I briefly considered the changes I would make in my practice. Dodged another bullet. “What’s the bad news?”

“I sent Ted and Fred home.” Father Brian said softly.

“Oh!” I said. That was surprising. “That’s too bad.” I said as I thought back to less than 48 hours before when Ted was having life saving surgery for his acute appendicitis.

“Needless to say Mr and Mrs McDonald were not happy with me.”

“I can imagine.” I said as I leaned on the dining table and clasped my hands together and waited for Father Brian to say more.

“Too much of a repeat flight risk,” Father shook his head. “Way too distracting for the entire staff.”

“I see. That makes sense.”

“They seemed most annoyed that we refused to reimburse them for the second week of camp that the boys would be missing.” Barb added.

“I have two beds that I can’t fill!” Father explained.

“You can’t let bygones be bygones? You know, forgive and forget, not revenge and regret?” I asked feeling a bit of empathy for the McDonalds.

“Oh I will forgive and forget, Anne. I have no problem with that, but I’m still not going to keep those boys at camp. And it’s not revenge, that I am after, it’s a life lesson and I am only too happy to be their teacher. Their mischief today showed a total disregard for camp. All the campers and all the staff. Camp came to a complete standstill while we chased these two spoiled brats across the lake.”

“I see your point. That’s a painful lesson.” I responded as I watched my three kids enter the far side of the dining hall with Himself following behind.

“That’s the great thing about camp.” Barb said as Himself and the kids sat down at the table beside me. “Sure, we want to teach the kids how to canoe or swim but we also need to teach them respect.” Barb finished and Father and I nodded again looking a bit like bobble-heads.

Can’t disagree

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Take care, TCB. Oh! Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me!” Himself sang, a bit out of tune. We all looked at him blankly. “Another great day at Camp Acorn!” Himself said and then punctuated it by drumming his hands on the table as Father Brian, Barb and I exchanged looks and laughed. “I’m kinda gonna miss this place!”

Sing it sister!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s