" It's not fair, Dad. Lisa got to go to Summer Camp last year, " growled Tommy." I know that it don't seem fair to you, Son, but this is the last year that Lisa can go. You know the Danton Camp doesn't take kids after they are sixteen years old and Lisa will be sixteen before then. " Mr. Sims spoke with a softness in his voice knowing that his son would be disappointed. " You will have two more years of camp, Tommy. You know that money is tight right now for us since I've been laid off from work. "
Mr. Sims hung his head feeling a little embarrassed. It really doesn't seem fair, but what can I do? I didn’t plan this layoff. He wished the lay off hadn't happened at Clinard's Mill, but they were down sizing and Mr. Sims was one of the fifty workers that had to be let go. He had been looking for a job since the layoff but he hadn't been able to find a job anywhere so money was tight, very, very tight.
Tommy saw his Dad's shoulders sag a little and he saw the sadness in his eyes. He had never seen his Dad so sad before. He wanted to tell his Dad that it was alright, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. After all, it wasn't his fault that Ole Clinard was downsizing and it really wasn't fair that he was going to miss out on all the fun with his friends. He would miss out on the canoeing, the fishing and especially the setting up the tents. That was always Tommy‘s favorite part of camping because they all joked around at each other‘s mishaps while raising the tents. Tommy moped around for the rest of the day, feeling a little sorry for himself. When his mother called , Supper time, Tommy went down stairs with less spirit than he usually did. He walked right past his sister without making any of his usual teasing remarks such as, " If you're cooking ... I'm going on a diet ! " No, Tommy was not his usual self. His sister gave him a light punch on the arm, " Hey, Brother. Whatcha want to drink ? Tommy just shrugged his shoulders feeling a little angry at his sister because she would be leaving tomorrow for camp. He quickly murmured , " It doesn't matter to me, nothing matters. "
Lisa knew Tommy was upset over her going to camp. She had told her Dad to let Tommy go instead of her but Mr. Sims insisted that she go because Tommy could go next year and she couldn't. She agreed only because she knew it would make her Dad feel worse if she didn't go. He already felt bad enough over the job situation. But Lisa also understood how Tommy must be feeling and she wanted to do something to make him feel better, but what ?
Lisa walked over to Tommy and touched his arm , " Tommy, I'm really sorry we both
can't go to Camp. If I had the money I'd pay your way myself, but I don't make very much money baby-sitting and what I had saved up I had to buy summer clothes with. You know how tight money is. Dad feels really bad, so do I. " Tommy felt a little guilty for his actions when he saw the sincerity in his sisters eyes. It really wasn't her fault that their Dad lost his job. Oh, life just isn't fair, he thought.
Tommy sat down at the table and laid his head on his arms. Last weeks Sunday School lesson came to his mind. What was that Mr. Shelton said ? Oh Yes, that sometimes life can bring disappointments and sometimes things don't always seem fair. Boy, did he know that ! But Mr. Shelton also said that in each situation God would be in control if we would let Him. Well, this was a situation that Tommy needed help with so he decided the best thing he could do was turn it over to God and let Him take care of it just like Mr. Shelton talked about.
Tommy began to feel better but he was still concerned about his Dad. He kept thinking about how sad his Dad looked when he told him he couldn't afford to send him to camp. Tommy began to regret the way that he had acted toward his Dad. He needed to tell his Dad that it was alright and he was sorry for the way he acted, he really didn't need to go to camp. In fact he wanted to stay home and help his Dad work around the house. They would have fun together.
Mrs. Sims sat down after she sat the meatloaf on the table and spoke softly, Let's bow our head and thank God for our food. " Something wasn't right , Tommy thought, Where's Dad ? Dad always says grace ? Tommy jumped up from his chair , " Mom, where's Dad ? Why isn't he here ? " Mrs. Sims just smiled and said, " Tommy, just eat. Dad said to go ahead without him."
Tommy started reluctantly eating not even tasting any of the meatloaf he normally devoured with zeal. After a few bites, Tommy heard a strange banging outside. He looked over at his mother, " Mom, what's that noise ? It sounds like someone hammering. " Mrs. Sims stood to her feet and walked over to Tommy and said, "Perhaps you should go and check it out, Son. " Boy, Mom is sure acting strange, thought Tommy as he went to the kitchen door. As Tommy stepped outside he was greeted with the sight of his Dad hammering the last tent stake into the dry ground. “ What's going on , Dad “ ? said Tommy. " What do you think, Son ? Do you think that this will pass a camping inspection ? Mr. Sims looked at his son anxiously wondering what his response would be. He wanted to surprise Tommy with the borrowed tent and all the fixings that goes with camping.
Tommy looked around the back yard and saw all the work that his Dad had done. To his left was a huge stack of logs for a fire and to the right was a huge cooler supplied with all the makings for cooking the campfire way. And oh, the sight of that big tent. Tommy was for once in his life lost for words. Tommy understood now what his Dad was doing. He was trying to make up for Tommy not being able to go to camp.
" Well, Son. What do you think ? Mr. Sims stood with a grin on his face looking at
his son with patience, waiting on some kind of response. When Tommy just stood there Mr. Sims thought that perhaps Tommy didn't like the idea very much and his smile weakened. But Tommy finally opened his mouth, verily able to control his emotions as he saw what his Dad had done for him, " Dad, I am sorry for the way I acted about the camping thing. I , well, I think that your the best dad in the world. And with those words Tommy ran into the awaiting arms of his father. He looked up at his Dad and saw that his eyes were no longer sad and he thought, Truly, God is in control. That year was the best camping trip Tommy ever had. In fact, he told his Dad that when he was sixteen and could no longer go to Danton Camp, he wanted to camp out again with him.