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Dwarves etc. is a fantasy novel I am writing, on the order of 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. Chapter 4.
Ch 4: It might just be OK
He led the pair across the dining room and out a door on the opposite side which opened onto a wide lawn. On one side of the lawn, Ben saw two soccer goal posts, on the other a whole series of butts. Apparently, they did take archery seriously here. Ben loved archery with a passion, and was thrilled to see the butts. He stared off at them, and picturing himself there, but stopped when he heard his father say, “So, if I understand correctly, you have all married counselors?”
“Yes. A number of years ago Mr. Gregg took over and created that policy. Each cabin has a married couple in it, and that couple serve both as counselors to that cabin and as staff. Mrs. Grant, for example, heads up the cooking staff. Mrs. Johnson, who has your girl, teaches arts, crafts, and sewing. You have probably heard of all sorts of nasty problems happening at camps and schools. By having older, married, counselors we hope to avoid even the appearance of some of those problems.”
“I think that sounds like a good idea. I have always wondered about the logic of having a wild bunch of college students have so much responsibility over children. When you’re not busy being my sons counselor, what staff job do you have?”
“I am the chapel speaker. We have, as I am sure you read in our brochure, two chapel periods a day, where we have singing, Bible Memorization, and a talk. I get to give the talk. I worked in Papua New Guinea for quite a while and just love to tell stories, both about those times and, well, any number of things. I may not look it, but I have quite an imagination.”
Mr. Fredricks had been going to say something about their not believing in God etc. and how he hoped religion wouldn’t be pushed on his children, but he forgot all about that when he heard about Papua New Guinea. “PNG? Really? I have read quite a bit about PNG, and even had one of my characters go there in one of my books… I couldn’t really go on much about that, of course, as I had never been there… I just had him stuck in the airport for a while… tell me, what was it like?”
As Mr. Balladin began to recount his description of life in PNG, Ben began to think that this camp might not be as bad as he had feared. He had been appalled to learn that his counselor would be the camp speaker. And older married counselors… yuck. But everyone in his family loved a good story, and the five-minute walk to his cabin showed that Mr. Balladin could tell a great story.
To get to the cabin they had had to cross the lawn, and then they followed a narrow path through the woods, which twisted around and went generally uphill. The cabin itself, looking, with its solid log walls, even more cabin-like then the picture on the web page, sat on a small shelf, where you could see the tops of several mountains over the trees that surrounded it. There were two doors, and Mr. Balladin led them to the one on the left.
“Welcome to our cabin,” he had said as they came into sight of it, and “voila your room,” when they walked through the door. The cabin had five sets of bunks scattered around its walls, and two other doors, one leading off to the right, and one opposite the door they had entered. Each of the bunks had a small closet next to it, and there were several chairs in the room, as well as a table.
“Pick a bunk and throw your stuff on it,” Mr. Balladin suggested. “Behind here is our outhouse,” he remarked, opening the door in the back and waving to a small wooden building, “which comes in very useful in middle of the night. And off to the right here is my room,” At this he opened the door on the right and showed a small room with a double bed, closet, and a couple of chairs.
“Now,” he said, “you should dig out your swimming stuff, change, and go down to the lake. Our head lifeguard, Mr. Grant has been down there for a half hour or so, all by himself, waiting for some swimmers.”
“How do I get to the lake, sir?” asked Ben.
“Ah, I’ll show you.” He led Ben out of the cabin, “Do you see that path?” He asked, pointing to a break in the trees. “That will lead you to the lake. First the path will go up a ways, and then boom, it will go down through a break in a hill and lead you right to the lake.”
So Ben found his suit, changed, and darted off toward the path, while his father and Mr. Gregg wandered back to the dining hall, still chatting animatedly about Papua New Guinea. Halfway to the lake, he realized that he had not even said good-bye to his parents, especially his mother. “Oh well,” he thought, “if she really wants to she can come down and find me swimming.”
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