The Camp Of The Willows - Chapter 5
By barbara Lynn Terry
Cammie Davies went in to Rachel’s room to wake her up. It appeared that sometime during the night, Rachel had gotten in to her own bed. But, when Cammie Davies went in Rachel’s room, she found Rachel wide awake. She was just finishing getting dressed, when her mom walked in.
“Well, I was going to wake you up, but it looks like you beat me to it. Is everything ready for camp?”
“Yes, mom, I heard Sharon just a bit ago, I think she is ready, too.”
“You know, dear, with Sharon there with you, I won’t worry too much about how you are getting along. Remember, dear, Sharon has already been to this camp. She has talked with Miss Loretta and her two daughters about you. So, she knows there will at least be two others in your cabin just like you. If the genetic girls don’t like you, Sharon has told me that Miss Loretta will have them moved, space providing. Not every camper there will know about you, just the ones in your cabin. Sharon has told me that the girls will be warned not to spread anything about you and the other transgender campers. If they do, they will be asked to leave when their parents pick them up. But, I don’t think you will have any problems.”
“I know she won’t, mom,” Sharon said, coming in to Rachel’s room. “Miss Loretta runs a tight ship, as the saying goes. The girls in Rachel’s cabin will be the ones who accept transgender people. So, remember, sis, act like a lady at all times, and everything else will fall into place. So, if we are ready … Oh! Is daddy up?”
“Yes, he is Sharon, and he is getting the car all packed with your suitcases. So, ladies, without further ado, I say that we get going.”
The Davies women left the house, and went out to the car. Everybody put their seat belts on. Richard Davies never put the car in gear until the seat belts were fastened. Besides, he hated that beeping, every time someone didn’t fasten their seat belt. Once, everyone was settled in, Richard Davies put the car in gear, and they were off to The Camp of the Willows. It took them ninety minutes to get to the camp, but, Betty saw them first.
“Mom, they’re here.”
Miss Loretta, the owner of the camp, came over and greeted the Davies family.
“Hello Sharon, it is nice to see you again. This must be Rachel. You are assigned to Cabin number 3, or Cabin Bambi, as we like to call it. That is because there is a wooden plaque of a deer over the doorway. Anyway, after check-in, why don’t we all go to my office, and we will talk. Mr. And Mrs. Davies, Rachel, maybe Sharon would like to show you around the camp. Check-in is going to take a while.”
“I would love to show them around, Miss Loretta. I think they will find it very interesting. I especially want to show them the rock garden that Allison got the whole camp to help make.”
“That is a good idea, Sharon, you can start in the administration building. You can then show them the ‘safe’ trails, and the ones to stay away from.”
“I will do that, Miss Loretta. Mom, dad, sis, let’s begin the beguine.”
Sharon took her family to the administration building and to the trophy case. This case was filled by projects that have been done by past campers, and some current campers. Rachel did not see anything that resembled her idea for a camp project. And it would take the whole camp to help with the project, so it would be done by the project judging, which is the second last day of camp.
“There is the rock garden that Allison Kingston started, then got the whole camp involved. They looked for rocks that had color to them, or fancy design. The whole camp took turns gluing the rocks to the board. The finished project is what you see there. The whole camp got a free summer camp the next year.”
“I don’t see my idea anywhere in there, sis,” Rachel said to Sharon.
“Neither, do I, sis. That makes your idea original. We can talk to Miss Loretta and Betty and her sister tomorrow. Let’s go over by the cafeteria, where the commissary is. I will show you where and how everything works.
“As you can see, we have picnic table-like benches where the campers sit and eat. Over here, is the commissary, where you can buy potato chips, popcorn, candy bars, hard candy, toothpaste, even a small bottle of perfume, for a small fortune, of course. While we are here, let me show you the swimming pool.
“This is the shallow end, where, dear sister, you will be, until you can show Miss Betty that you can swim the length of the pool. You have to swim, to one end, then back again. If you can do that, you will be permitted to use the entire pool. Let’s go over by the playing field.”
Sharon explained that the playing field was used for baseball. It had two tennis courts that were fenced in, so that a stray ball couldn’t hit the tennis players. There was also a badminton court, and that was also fenced in. Sharon then took them by the nature trails.
“These two trails here are called the ‘safe’ trails. You can learn a lot about the differences in a toadstool and a mushroom and a poisonous mushroom. You can learn about the different flowers, different kinds of trees. You can have fun here, as well as learn a few things. We don’t have time go down even one trail, as check-in is almost over. Let’s go back by the group.”
Sharon took her family back where they first saw Betty. Check-in, indeed, was almost over. There were only a few more girls that needed to be checked in and given their cabin assignments. Betty saw them coming back.
“Rachel, Sharon, if you will get your belongings, you can put them in your cabins. Sharon, you will be in the counselor hut, next to the admin building. We have daily meetings every morning, just before breakfast. The counselors, including Miss Loretta eats with the Campers. We do not have a special table, because Miss Loretta says the campers will feel better about their counselors, when they know the counselors actually sit at the same table as they do.”
“Rachel, you will wait with me, as I have to make sure that nothing has changed about you and the two other transgender girls. Sharon, when you are finished unpacking, please come back and help some of the other girls get settled in. Mr. and Mr. Davies, let’s go my office, so we can have a little chat. Then you can come along while we get Rachel settled in. How did you enjoy the tour?”
“We enjoyed it very much. I heard you have fun and have a chance to learn, too. But I didn’t realize the extent of the fun these girls can really have.”
“Not only that, Mrs. Davies, but we also have dances here on Saturday nights. There is a boys camp about five miles from here. Only the boys that behave get to come to the dances, as well as the girls that behave. So, yes, Mrs. Davies, these girls can have a lot of fun.
The got in to Miss Loretta’s office. Betty and her sister were there.
“Rachel, your sister is a junior counselor here this year. She has enjoyed many summers with us. She doesn’t need any training, except to learn how to make out the daily reports for her cabins. Each counselor has three cabins to watch over.
“Sharon will participate with your cabin in all of your activities, except the camp project. That, the campers must do themselves. I told your parents that we have dances here on Saturdays … But, only the girls that behave themselves, get to go to these dances. There are demerits you can accumulate for various different camp infractions. Sharon will go over those with you, so that you can better understand what they are. Are there any questions?” Nobody said anything. “Then, I guess we are through.
“Thank you for coming and staying while we checked the girls in. You may visit on Sundays, if you wish. The girls are all encouraged to write you at least once a week about their camp experience. We never read these letters. The girls seal their envelopes and place them in the mail box just outside the main office door. The mailman comes every morning to deliver and pick up the mail. See you next week, then.”
Mr. and Mrs. Davies got in their car, and left the camp. Cammie Davies was looking out of the back car window as they were leaving.
Betty went back by the waiting Rachel. “Rachel come with me.” Rachel picked up her suitcase and followed Betty to Cabin Bambi.
“Girls, this is Rachel, and she is going to be with us for the summer. She is a transgender girl, just like April and Flora. So, how do we feel having the cabin set up this way?”
“I think it’s great,” Sonya Reading said with a genuine smile. “There is so much we can teach them that they weren’t allowed to know growing up. But, Miss Betty, we will teach them.”
“That is a good attitude, Sonya. Does anyone else have any objections?” Nobody said any thing, except Darlene Riggs.
“I say the same thing Sonya said. These girls are in for girl training 101.”
Betty just nodded her head, smiling. “All right, girls, I will let you all get acquainted, while I go and train a new junior counselor. Have fun, ladies.” Betty left, knowing that Rachel and the other two transgender girls were in good hands.
Sonya Reading was twelve years old, and she knew quite a lot for her age. Her favorite book is Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged International Dictionary. If she didn’t understand a definition, she would talk to her parents or teacher about it.
Darlene Riggs was also twelve years old, and she liked to ice skate in the winter and roller skate in the summer, plus she was always listening to how the adults talked to each other, and tried to mimic them, leaving out the cuss words. Darlene never understood why adults have to cuss so much.
Carla Sanchez was eleven, going on twelve years old, and she liked to cook. She would help her mother every chance she got. Her father was killed in a drive by shooting one year ago, when he was coming home from work. Since then, Carla’s mother had to go to work. She found a nice job, in a factory, where she was earning fifteen dollars an hour. She operated a fork lift, as was her job before she got married.
Susan Scott was twelve, going on thirteen, and loved reading as much as she could. She loved murder mysteries, science fiction, romance, and adventure books.
Angel Domiquez was thirteen, and this would be her last year in Cabin Bambi. She loved indoor ice skating in the summer, and was practicing Olympic style moves. Her trainer was right there in case she fell, and then told her to take her time. He showed her what he meant. Angel was a sweet girl, though, and she loved making friends.
This is the makeup, this summer, of Cabin Bambi. The girls were all talking to Rachel, and they asked her if her mom let her wear any makeup.
“She let’s me wear mascara, and that’s all. She said I am too young for even lipstick.”
“What about colored lip gloss?” Angel asked.
“Not even,” Rachel said to Angel. "My mom said only colorless chap stick.”
“So, what is she, then?” Asked Darlene. “Is she a prude.”
“Just call me Dar, Rachel. Everybody else does, especially my friends.”
“My friends just call me Rach.”
If you have ever been to camp, you know you make a lot of friends, but you also make a few enemies, too. Rachel, however, was a rare exception to that rule. She seemed to make friends where ever she went.
“So, are we friends, Rach?”
“Yes, Dar, we are. Everybody in this cabin are my friends. We live in the same cabin, and we need to be friends, because we need to do things as a group, at times, not all the time.”
Just then, Sharon came through the door.
“Hey little sis. Girls, tomorrow is project idea day. We are having a meeting with all of the campers in the cafeteria. The camper that comes up with the best project at the end of camp, gets a free summer at camp the next year. Does that sound like a good idea?”
There was a thunderous roar of “right on!” from all the girls at once.
The girls began talking with one another, after Sharon left the cabin. Betty actually did not need to train Sharon, as Sharon knew every facet of what a counselor does, and should do for the campers. Sharon knew that counselors were there for the campers, as well as supervise them. But, a good counselor, she found, not only just supervises the camper, but gets involved with them as they do their activities, except for the campers projects. The projects have to be done by the campers themselves, or they don’t count in the judging.
Rachel was keeping her project a secret until the project meeting in the morning. She was going to ask the entire assembly if they wanted to help build the wooden village. She had envisioned a nineteenth century village with a surrounding stockade wall. This project was probably going to take all summer to make, but should be done by the end of camp.
“Rachel,” Sonya started the conversation. “What do you like to do, when you’re at home?”
“I like to do a lot of things. I like to put jigsaw puzzles together, but, they have to be one thousand pieces or more. I like to sew …” Rachel did know how mend a tear with a thread an needle as she has practiced over and over, when she was with her friends. “I like to read, I like to do this and that. I like to do a whole myriad of things.”
“Rachel, what does myriad mean?” Asked Sonya.
“It means many. I heard my dad use it once when he was talking to my mom. So, I looked it up in the dictionary. It said “Myriad: Many or varied kinds. Varied, used like this, means different.”
“So,”Angel said curiously. “Are you saying that if you don’t understand a word, you just look it up?”
“Yes, if I don’t already know what it means. Girls, we have got to learn these words, so we know what our parents are saying. Then after we are grown up, we won’t sound like we just came out of the sandbox. I …” Rachel giggled … “heard my dad say that once, too, when was talking to some of his friends.”
In each cabin there was refrigerator, where the girls could keep sodas, chocolates, or anything else that needed to be cold. The refrigerator even had a small freezer where they could keep ice cream, and even make ice cubes.
Susan kept a box of thirty six chocolates in the refrigerator. Of course, that number was reduced by about fifteen. But, she went to the refrigerator and took out the box of chocolates.
“Here, Rach, have a chocolate. You know what Forest Gump’s mom always said: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.’” The girls all giggled.
Rachel asked the girls if they wanted anything from the commissary. They all said, yes, and the whole cabin went to get their snacks. Rachel felt like an ice cream, Susan got a small bag of BBQ potato chips, Angel bought a ginger ale, Sonya got a box of jujubes, Darlene was hungry for a large Milky Way candy bar, and Carla opted for a Black Bear black cherry soda.
With their snacks in hand, they went back to their cabin. Each one asked Carla what was Black Bear.
“Black Bear is a soda company in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. My mom bought some when went to visit my grandma. It is a good soda. They don’t sell it in a lot of stores here in Michigan, but there a few that do. It is called Black Bear and they different flavored sodas.”
“Are you from Wisconsin, Carla?” Asked Darlene.
“No, I’m from Michigan, but, my grandma moved to Wisconsin, when my uncle Ted came and talked to her. He works for A.O. Smith in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. See, here in Michigan, my grandma was in a nursing home. My uncle took her out of the nursing home, and had her come and live with him. He has a nurse come in to help her and be a companion. When my uncle found out that she wasn’t being properly cared for, like they claimed they were doing, he took her out of there. Now he knows she is being properly cared for.”
“I figure, when I am too old, that’s where I’ll be is in a nursing home,” Darlene said.”
“Not me,” Susan said to the group. “I like my independence too much.”
“My grandma still lives on her own,” Sonya said to everyone. “She still bakes the most delicious pies. She told me, when I was at camp last year, that she was bringing me a pie. I asked her what kind, and she said it was a surprise. She brought me a Dutch apple pie, and it was delicious. I don’t know what she will bring this year.”
“Does she bring you something every year?” Asked Angel.
“Yes, this is my third time at camp, and every year she would bring me something delicious. The first year I was here, she brought me home made peanut butter cookies. When I do get something, I share with the entire cabin. That is what we mean by being friends, not just cabin mates.”
“That is why I say,” Rachel said in answer to what Sonya stated. “I want to have you all for my friends. I don’t expect you to share anything with me, but, when my mom, brings me something good to eat, I will share it with all of you.”
“All right girlfriend,” Sonya told Rachel, in a chastising tone. “You listen to what we all say. We will share with everyone in the cabin, because that is cabin mates do when they are friends. I want to stay in touch with everyone, so let’s give each other our phone numbers and addresses. This way, we can call or write, or both.”
All the girls wrote their numbers and addresses down. Each girl got a slip of camp stationary with the information on it. Now, the girls were friends, not only at camp, but after camp, too. If they didn’t live too far from each other, then they could also have sleepovers.
“Do any of you have a movie night at your house?” Inquired Rachel.
“I do,” answered Sonya. “We like to watch different types of movies. Like the movie that got me interested in going to camp was, ‘The Parent Trap’ with Hayley Mills. That was a funny movie. I like to watch romantic movies, adventure, some westerns, some war, and murder mysteries. Agatha Christie’s stories are my favorite who-dun-its. Our movie night is Saturdays.”
“Ours is, too,” added Susan. “I like the same movies you do, except for war movies. I think they are too violent.”
It was at this time that they heard the clanging of a bell coming over the P.A. system.
“That’s lunch, everyone,” Sonya told the group. “Let’s take a quick walk/run to the cafeteria.”
Since Cabin Bambi wasn’t that far from the cafeteria, they made it in no time. They were in the middle of the line, but they would get what they wanted. While it seemed that it took more time than it should have, it only too one hour to check all the girls in to their cabins, as well as the tour Sharon gave her family.
So, over a lunch of pasta salad, a hot dog, a glass of milk, and a slice of blueberry pie, they sat and talked as they ate. Rachel wanted to tell the girls about her project idea, but wanted her to bring it up to the camp. A light lunch goes pretty fast, when you’re talking and eating at the same time. They placed their dirty dishes in the wash pans. One pan for plates, one for flatware, and one for cups and glasses. Then they went back to their cabin to digest their food. Rachel said, “I’m filled to the gills, and all I had was one small helping of each.” There was a chorus of “me, too,” from the rest of the girls.
“So, what does everybody want to do until dinner?” Darlene asked everybody.
“I know,” Sonya and in an answer. “We can go swimming.”
“Yes,” Rachel agreed. “We could go swimming. My mom bought me the cutest bathing suit. Wait and I will show you.” Rachel went to get her bathing suit out of her locker.
She brought it out to show the girls, and they all ahhed and oohed at the design. Oh yes, it was a Jacquard. It is amazing how mothers won’t spend two hundred dollars for a pair of shoes, but will buy her daughter a Jacquard bathing suit costing one hundred and fifty dollars. That is truly amazing. It was a black and white alternating block design. It had a skirt at the bottom.
“Rachel, dear, that, that is a, uhm, a Jacquard. How, did you, you get that?” Asked Carla.
“I flashed my eyelids and gave the pouty lip act.”
“Well,” Susan stated incredulously. “However you got it, you got it. That is the main thing. Right?”
“So, let’s get in to our suits and get in the pool. Now, Rach, when you get to the pool, the counselor there will want you to swim the length of the pool her, and then back to where you started. Can you swim?”
“I can swim a little bit, Carla. I don’t know if I can swim the kength of the pool twice, though.”
“Well, we can find out,” Sonya told the group.
The girls headed for the pool. When they got there, Sharon was the counselor on duty. Rachel knew that Sharon would not let her get away with anything. So, she bravely walked to the edge of the pool. She thought to herself that it was now or never.
She dove in the pool, doing a perfect dive in. She started swimming toward the deep end of the pool. It took her about three minutes, and then she turned around and swam back. She did not want Sharon to think that she was winded from the long swim, but she was.
Rachel, you may now use the entire pool, plus you are graded in the shark category. Do we have any more beginners that want to try to swim the length of the pool and then back to where they started?” Nobody spoke a word. Sharon then told the girls to enjoy their swim.
The swim lasted for three hours, before they had to leave to go and get back in to their clothes for dinner. They had about forty minutes to change. As soon as they were dried off and changed, the dinner bell rang over the P.A. system.
They joined all the campers headed to the cafeteria. Dinner tonight was roast beef, mashed potatoes, buttered green beans, milk and graham crust cheese cake.
“Rachel, why did you jump in the pool like that? Sonya asked incredulously.
“Because I knew my sister would tell to. So before she could say anything, I decided to do it and get it over with. I was completely winded after that little exhibition. But, it had to be done, even if I didn’t do it myself.”
“Well, now she’s satisfied that her little sister can swim. You can get a lot of swimming in during the summer. After dinner, we are going on a nature hike. We are going to learn the differences between poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Those are very dangerous plants. They want us to know about them, and we stay away from those plants.”
“There is one thing that we can say about camp. We had to go school and had fun doing it.” The girls just giggled.
Everybody giggled at Rachel’s remark.
Next Chapter: The nature hike and other adventures.
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