To truly set the scene we must meet the campers. Understanding the children will help us to have greater understanding of the depths into which out counselors sink.
Chapter Three-The Cabins
In the world of child psychology, there have been widely differentiating views set forth which dissect the varying methods and styles of parenting. However, parenting isn’t camp counseling, and no two camp counselors have the same methodology toward self-preservation while managing, establishing, and maintaining control while simultaneously providing an enjoyable and safe summer. With that said, one must focus on the key words here … self-preservation.
Charlie seized the opportunity to meet and introduce himself to his ten and eleven year-olds at Netherfield prior to the boys’ campus welcome talk. It had worked in previous years, and this year, he thought to take the time once again, thereby easing the kids into what Darcy referred to the talk as “The Rules of Existence.”
Standing in the center of the cabin surrounded by six kids, he sized them up. They were a motley crew, to be sure. He flinched at the sight of the kid with the shaved sides of his head, which looked like a Mohawk. Jeez, he’s ten. What the hell were his parents thinking? Then there was the kid with the glasses and the Izod sweater. Jeez, he’s eleven not a Wall Street stockbroker. Then, not to be missed was the one holding the high-powered, super mack daddy of all water rifles as it lay across his cross-legged lap. Charlie was suddenly very afraid as the kid’s eyes lit with mischief and warfare.
After clearing his throat, he put on his most amicable smile then greeted his campers. “Hey kids, Welcome to Camp Mount Oakham. I’m Charlie and I’m going to be your cabin counselor for the next four weeks.”
Okay, good, I have their attention so far. “Why don’t we go around the room and you can introduce yourselves. Tell everyone your name and where you’re from. You with the gun … go first.”
“Yeah ... I’m Dick Burns and I’m from Slicklizzard, Alabama.”
Next up was Mohawk boy … “I’m Harry Cox and I’m from Hell, Michigan.”
At this point, Charlie’s face started to contort, not with anger or frustration, but from the mere fact that these kids were pretty funny, and for eleven year-olds pretty darn creative, if not too mature for their own good. He knew then that it was going to be a good cabin and an interesting summer.
“Hey dudes, I’m Mike Hunt from Dickshooter, Idaho.”
“Hi guys, I’m Hugh Jass, and I’m from Butts, Georgia.”
Charlie laughed. “Well okay, if we’re gonna play that way, then my real name is Jim Shorts from Looneyville, New York.
Caroline stood in the center of cabin Scarborough surrounded by six wide-eyed little girls: two seven year olds and four aged six, which was the youngest age allowed at Camp Mount Oakham. One little one sat crying on her bed for her mommy, two clutched their dollies, and three were at attention in the center of the room, waiting for their new counselor to say something.
One of the urchins tugged harshly at the bottom of her white shorts.
“Hey red lady, what’s your name?”
She swatted the child’s hand away. “Stop touching those. They’re Juicy Couture.”
It was clear that the child had established a take-charge leadership role when she turned around to her cabin roommates announcing, “Her name is Juicy!”
“No dahling ...” She corrected.
The mini would-be leader bent down and began touching Caroline’s stilettos.
“Little one … my shorts are Juicy, not me. Stop that, those are Christian Louboutins.”
“Her name is Christian Lou Lou!”
Caroline bent down to the child’s height, placing her hands on her shoulders. “My name is Miss Caroline, and I am your cabin counselor. She feigned interest. “What is your name?”
“My name is Hayley, and since this is your first year here and my second, someone should teach you how we do stuff. I’m a good teacher. I’m seven.”
Caroline heard the sniffles coming from the smallest of all behind her. “Ok Hayley dahling, let’s play teacher. What would you like for me to learn?”
“It’s very important that you follow the rules: nap time is for the babies not the seven year-olds.” She turned around to look at the little cryer and sneered. “Soda is allowed after dinner and candy is ok for breakfast.”
“Ahhh … I see.” Caroline might have had selective hearing about quite a few things, but she was no dummy. What made her so smart was that she was a freely admitted opportunistic, self-centered diva, seeing opportunity around every corner particularly if it had the potential to further her cause. What cause was that? Why, getting Darcy naked in her bed, of course.
“Well Hayley, girls … Do you have any other instructions for me?”
Hayley scratched her head then called for all the other girls to come together in a huddle on to discuss their demands on the opposite side of the room. When competed, the tiniest came forward, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. She smiled, speaking in her sweet baby voice, “We don’t want to take baths.”
Hayley succinctly added, “The bigger kids don’t do it, so we won’t,” nodding her head in satisfaction along with the other five girls.
Caroline walked around the circle of girls as her long legs made quick revolution around their small bodies. She circled them like a wolf sizing up lambs for a slaughter. Finally, she locked eyes with Hayley and tented her fingers before her chin. “Very well, I concede to your demands but only if you agree to mine. Let’s make a trade.”
“Ok Lou Lou.” Hayley nodded once with resolve accepting the terms.
“Rule number one: You are not to wake me in the morning until after breakfast. Rule number two: You are going to help me be alone with my boyfriend. Rule number three: you must be able to babysit yourselves. Rule number four: no bed wetting. Do we have a deal?”
The girls took off running like wild hellions throughout the cabin screaming, “Yeah! Lou Lou, Lou Lou! Yeah … Candy!”
They ran in circles around Caroline, waving their arms in the air like airplanes. Caroline stood in the middle of the cabin with her hands over her face in fear of the power she had just unleashed.
She had no knowledge that sugar and six year-olds were a disastrous combination for adults.
Hell week had officially begun in Scarborough.
Hidden up in the Lambton cabin, which was situated closest to the forest, eight boys ages twelve and thirteen paid attention to their very cool, very stylish, and very tanned cabin counselor, G-Train.
“Ok boys, here’s the lay of the land. The rules are, there ain’t no rules. I don’t care what you eat, drink, or smoke, but you can’t question my authority when I give it. Roll with it brothers, and you’ll have a great summer.”
“First off, you’re twelve and thirteen. I know what that means. I was that age, too—you’re horny. You want to flog the log, spank the monkey, beat the meat … do it in the woods back there. I don’t want to see any boners around here, and I’m not cleanin’ your sheets.”
The boys’ faces turned red and they immediately gave their attention to the windows and the floorboards, anywhere but to G-Train. Their cool counselor just called them out as if he had known what was on their minds when that red muscle car pulled into the lot and that girl with the big boobs got out.
“Second, anything goes with pranks. You want to execute the perfect panty raid? I’m your man. You want to drill a hole in the girls’ shower? I’m your man. You want to get to first base? I’ll be your look out. I’m here to help you have a cool summer.”
“Last but not least, our sole purpose this summer is to beat the girls in every game, relay, and sport so we can get to the Grand Slam at the end of the summer. We will be the victorious final cabin standing, and who do we have to beat out?”
“Pemberley!” they shouted.
“You learn fast little dudes, but they’re not going to give the Grand Slam to us. We have to work for it. So when competing don’t use your hands unless you can’t bring them down with your feet. If necessary, go for the purple nurple. Make them cry by telling them they’re ugly, and don’t be afraid to use what you got—bugs, spider webs, boogers, mud, farts—whatever it takes, use it.”
After about ten-minutes of George’s welcome talk, most of these kids’ A.D.D started to kick in, and they pulled out their iPhones and Gameboys. Having lost their attention, he left the cabin seeking someone he knew would stroke not just his ego. Someone in the form of a raven-haired, sixteen-year-old named L-Scream.
Darcy, Rick, John, and Charlie gathered all their campers in the circled piece of grass separating their cabins. Boys of all ages sat at attention to listen to the combined edicts set forth by their counselors. Some boys heard this same soliloquy throughout the years and were bored with it already, knowing it was all bull. Other boys were entirely unprepared for the tough love the counselors delivered and started to rethink the brilliant idea they had of running unchecked and free in the wilds of the Poconos. These children, having never been disciplined before, were dismayed that this may not be the summer they had prepared for after all.
As for the counselors, this was a well-rehearsed and delivered presentation of “you mess with us and your ass is grass” but not in those exact words. It was a way to set the cohesive rules of the boys’ campus with the clear understanding that as a team with firm constraints, both counselors and campers will have a winning—and safe—summer. Knowing well that most of these boys had very little respect for anyone, phrases were carefully worded in order to get the kids to cooperate.
Unfortunately, the only problem was that George never allowed Lambton boys to participate in this Welcome Talk and both Darcy and Cat had beat that horse dead over the years. So each summer those kids operated by Wickham’s unsavory rules in the hopes of making it to the Grand Slam competition between cabins at the end of the summer. Everyone wanted the grand prize trophy.
Billy Collins, the resident assistant to the boys’ counselors, passed around four cardboard boxes, each labeled with a cabin name.
This particular year his cabin assignment was Pemberley, sleeping right beside Darcy. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but Billy never stopped talking. He was one of those annoying guys who talked incessantly as if he had something important to say. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and at one in the morning after a day on the lake, the last thing these counselors and campers alike wanted was the likes of Billy lying beside them.
Truth be told, he was a nice guy, even if the biggest geek known to mankind. Short, skinny, and greasy he wore black rimmed glasses and had crooked teeth. One couldn’t help feeling sorry for him given all the strikes he had going against him. Having broken free for his “plain” life with the Amish, now at twenty-four and still a virgin, he enjoyed playing with Star Wars action figures and was an avid bowler – with his name embroidered on his shirt. Poor guy, try as he might he never really fit in.
If it wasn’t for the fact that he idolized Darcy in the extreme, his presence in Pemberley wouldn’t have been so bad. Darcy knew that his example inspired Billy and he followed him wherever he went.
Rick exhibited his bad-boy Army stance as hand gripped his hips, posturing his powerfully muscular body. With crew-cut blonde hair, he looked like a body builder rippling with muscles and strength. “Hand them over boys, these cabins are electronic-free zones. Every Gameboy, cell phone, iPad, iPod, Android, or Blackberry gets turned over for the next four weeks.”
Groans sounded from the newer campers, but the older ones knew enough from experience to bring a spare and keep it well hidden.
One of the sixteen year-olds directed a complaint to Darcy, “How can you do this to us, man? After all, aren’t you the dude who created that new X-Box app so that we can play your new game “World War” on our iPhones?”
Another shouted out, “Yeah, I’m about to wipe Australia from the face of the earth. You can’t do that to us.”
Beside Rick, Darcy grinning, having heard similar complaints last year when his and Charlie’s gaming software company, named Battlefront Software, released ”Military Hero.”
“Guys, guys, settle down. It’s only for 28 days. I promise you Australia will be there when the summer is over. Now listen up. For those of you who were here last year, you know the Rules of Existence and no electronic devices is the first rule. You’re going to enjoy the fresh air if it kills you.”
The kids groaned, just as he expected.
“The second rule is that if you dish it out … you better be prepared to take it.
Babies are not tolerated. No mercy will be shown in retaliation. If you don’t like it, tough.
Sportsmanship is to be adhered to at all times, especially when competing against the girls.
There will be no purple nurples, no pinching, and no cheating. It’s a physiological fact that girls are weaker and therefore already handicapped against you. They won’t win anyway, so why make them cry.
You mess with the counselors … we’re going to mess with you. Remember we’re bigger and stronger with greater intelligence and more experience.
Bullying of any sort will NEVER be tolerated. If you bully, I’ll bully you back in front of everyone, embarrass you, and it’ll ruin your summer.
Pranks are never to be executed against your counselors, only against the girls and among yourselves. We know every trick in the book and probably wrote the ones you know. See us for help in their execution, and see John for the supplies to make them work. He has all that stuff like the Saran Wrap, fake bugs, toothpaste, and blue ink. If you need to get into a girls’ cabin, let one of us know.
This is our final Rule of Existence especially geared to our older boys and is non-negotiable. You must bathe. Last year was a friggin’ nightmare. You boys smell, and you’re messing with my summer. Shower and use deodorant, and if you don’t, Rick here will drag you naked to the shower stall, tie you to a chair, hand you a bar of soap and stand over you until you wash your peckers. Comprende?
Rick looked horrified at the thought of dragging a naked, pimply, teenage boy into the shower. Darcy’d gone too far this time, and Rick was thankful that his cabin was the eight and nine year olds who didn’t mind bathing by themselves. He’d seen enough “peckers” in the military showers. Enough was enough.
Charlie took a step forward to outline the upcoming events. “Tonight is the Welcome Barbeque Dance – there will be NO fist pumping or body slamming. Ask the girls to dance even if you think they are ugly. It’ll soften them up for when they have to compete against you. After dinner, we will meet back here to organize and execute our first prank on the girls’ campus. It’s fun stuff when we tape clear tarp covered in Vaseline inside their cabin doorways. However, we will not do this to the age six cabin. Tomorrow begins our first competition against the girls, which is a swimming relay. See Rick about forming the teams. That’s all guys, and see any of us if you have any questions.”
Like mice, the boys scattered back to their cabins to finish settling in. It was none too soon because as Lizzy squatted in the bushes, having accidentally come upon the boys’ pow-wow, a centipede crawled up her shin. She squealed loudly before smashing it in fury below the heel of her Timberland boot.
This was to be the first and only time that Lizzy was thankful Lydia had gone missing in action, causing her to go in search of her already wayward sister. Unfortunately, or fortunately for that matter, she took a wrong turn and ended up on the pathway beside the boys’ campus.
Having heard the booming, strong voice of the guy who took the boys’ phones, she became intrigued and squatted behind a bush to watch and listen in. Immediately, she recognized John Lucas in the line-up of men and figured that the booming voice belonged to Charlotte’s new lover. Upon further inspection, she determined that the handsome blond looked to be more Jane’s type than her friend’s. But the last guy, now he was worth a double take—gorgeous and tall, and when she heard his deep, sexy voice say, “Guys, guys it’s only for 28 days. I promise you Australia will be there when the summer is over. Now listen up. For those of you who were here last year, you know these are the rules. It works like this…” she was slightly intrigued and had to admit was immediately, completely attracted to Mr. Rules of Existence. This guy was smoking hot with his dark brown waves worn to his collar, expressive eyes, a killer smile that winked back dimples, and his body … oh! his body! Oh my God! This guy oozes sex appeal. Lizzy broke out into a delicious sweat, until he said, “Girls are weaker and therefore already handicapped against you. They won’t win anyway so why make them cry.”
Her upper lip curled into a snarl as her right eye twitched closed; her fists balled on her lap. She whispered, “misogynistic sexist pig” with such distaste that she was a hair’s breadth away from running out there to defend her sex. It was at that point that she realized her complete and utter advantage over this massive prick and his gang of “peckers”.
War had been silently declared.
Lizzy stormed back to the girls’ campus where Anne deBourgh had already began the welcome to the Rosings and Longbourn cabins, which combined held sixteen hot-blooded, boy-crazy, teenage girls between the ages of twelve and sixteen.
Longbourn’s rickety screen door slammed behind her as she looked around the room, thankful to see that Lydia had made an appearance. Her sister sat on the bed beside a cute blonde of about the same age.
All around the room, adolescents smacked their gum, brushed their hair, applied lip gloss and texted with thumbs moving at rapid pace pretending not to listen to Anne.
“We do have a few rules for you to follow girls, nothing too harsh, just some simple guidelines to make your stay pleasant and extremely enjoyable. First off, Lizzy and I would like for you to restrict your texting and phone usage to a minimum … if that’s okay with you. Also, try not to stay up too late and if you have to leave the cabin just let your counselor know.”
A mental observation kicked into Lizzy’s mind, this talk was the exact opposite of the speech Mr. Rules just gave, and she felt pleased by that. Rules of Existence! Prick. She didn’t believe in “Authoritarian” parenting or counseling or anything of that firm nature. She was more of the “Permissive” school mindset, promoting self-regulation through leniency, friend vs. disciplinarian. Of course, she reminded her self in the back of her mind that she didn’t have experience with rich, spoiled, un-checked children whose parents’ style of parenting was “Uninvolved,” completely detached from their children’s lives.
Anne’s pleasant, codling voice broke through Lizzy’s musing. “Secondly, if you cannot compete in any of the scheduled events, let either of us know, and thirdly especially for you older girls, look out for the young ones if you can. Try to nurture them and team build. It is exceptionally important that we lift each other up and make friends. Let’s make this a summer to remember.”
Lydia snorted off to the side. “Yeah, I’m gonna remember this summer alright.”
Lizzy was mortified especially since it was obvious that Lydia had found a partner in her mischief: the blonde beside her. She mustered her meanest, scariest sister look for Lydia to put a gag on it.
The blonde laughed at the exchange and turned to Lydia, lifting her chin in Lizzy’s direction. “Do you know her?”
“Yeah, my uptight sister. My other one is next door.”
“Oh, I have a few of those types, too. My brother’s a counselor, that counselor is my cousin, and I have another cousin in the boys’ campus. My aunt runs the camp. Every summer, I’m totally screwed from having a good time.”
A camaraderie formed between the two girls. One was looking for a partner in crime, and the other was hoping to make a friend.
“I’m Lydia but you can call me L-Scream.” She raised her fist in the air which was met by the blonde’s.
“Hi. I’m Georgie.”
“Well since it looks like we are stuck in this shit-hole together for the next month, tell me Georgie or … maybe I’ll call you The Good Time … that could be your Jersey Shore name.”
“I like it” Georgiana nodded. “If only.” She snorted.
“Oh, you will have a blast if you hang out with me. Do you smoke cigarettes?” asked Lydia.
“Nah, don’t like them.”
“Do you huff?”
“No.” Georgiana shifted uneasily against the headboard of the bed, uncomfortable by the questions from this new girl because, in truth, she, herself, was a good girl and would never want to disappoint her brother.
“Do you have sex?” L-Scream asked.
“Almost once, last year.” She now felt super uncomfortable because that was something only her brother knew. Aunt Cat and the Gardiners had been told something of what happened but certainly not all of it.
“Well, Good Time you’re going to have the time of your life this summer.” Lydia shoved another piece of gum in her mouth, smacking her lips as her sister continued with her psycho-babble on teamwork, support and emotions.
Lizzy paced before the girls. “Now, listen, as much as it pains me to tell you, the boys have several things up their sleeves for tonight as well as this summer, and it seems that we need to formulate a plan of attack. Their leader seems to think that you’re soft, weak and wimpy, but we know better, don’t we girls?!”
“Yeah!” they answered.
Lizzy continued to pump them up as her competitive streak surfaced in the memory of Mr. Hotbod’s gender bias.
“Is your sister always this competitive?” Georgiana asked.
“This is nothing. You should see her when she plays sports. She’s as vicious as the stuck up girls who ran for Homecoming Queen, but she kicks ass. My other sister is the same way, too. She was set to run in the Olympics.”
“They sound like my brother. My aunt once told me that when he ran for Class President, he traded rides in his new Porsche for votes. He won by 95%.”
Their attention drew back to Lizzy when she shouted vehemently, “Are you ready to show the boys what we’re made of and beat their pants off? Let’s give them a dose of their own medicine!”
“Yeah! Kill the boys, kill the boys!”
“Good, because here’s what we need to do! ...”
It doesn't sound like Lizzy and Darcy are off to a good start, does it? But Georgiana has made a friend. Bad. Very Bad.