Summer Camp Snafu

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Summer Camp Snafu


By Shorngirl


         “Mom!” I screamed from the top of the stairs. “I don’t want to go to summer camp!”

         “Your father and I have been planning this trip for months, young lady. I can’t very well leave you here by yourself for four weeks. You’re only fourteen, I’d go to jail for crying out loud.” She yelled. “You’re going, and that’s my last word on it.” My mother crossed her arms, fed up with my tirade.

         I knew I was going, but I wasn’t going without a good fight. With half the summer over, it would mean spending the rest of it cooped up in a cabin with a bunch of girls. I was not up for this at all. I’d be heading off to high school in the fall, and besides, I had a boyfriend.

         Jamie wasn’t going to be too pleased about my being gone for the rest of the summer. I worried that he might get the idea that it was okay to date other girls, and that pissed me off.

         The thing was, he didn’t seem all that upset when I told him about my mother’s plans. “Oh, you’ll probably have fun up the mountains.” He said, continuing to play his video game, and not paying any attention to how upset I was.

         Well, the day finally came, and I was more miserable than ever. Jamie actually asked me if it was alright for him to see other girls while I was gone. Naturally, I said no, but he just sort of looked at me like I was being selfish and went on his way. I guess he wasn’t as serious about me as I was about him.

         It was July 20th, and the bus for Camp Apotakie was parked in the Walmart parking lot, where my parents gleefully dropped me off, duffle bag in arms. “Have fun now, and be nice to the other girls, Jennie.” My mother sighed, as she kissed me goodbye. I shrunk away from her attention, still pissed over the entire ordeal.

         So, as we wound our way through the country, I was reminded just how much I disliked hanging around with girls my age. The thing was, most of the kids on the bus were at least two if not three years younger than me. I just slung my head against the window and tried to ignore the immature conversations, giggling, and laughter happening all around me.

         As we climbed up into the mountains, I was actually beginning to enjoy the scenery. We so rarely came up here, as a family, so it was a chance to see the cascading streams and steep mountain peaks that surrounded us as we drove from one narrow pass to the next.

         After what seemed like hours, we finally arrived at Camp Apotakie, a camp that was strictly for girls. Of course, my parents wouldn’t have dreamed of sending me to a co-ed camp. They knew me too well, I guess.

         The place was pretty small as camps go, but it was nestled on the banks of a mountain lake that was as beautiful as it was cold. I still remember the first time the councilors insisted on us jumping in. If I could have walked on water, I would have.

         The cabin I was assigned to was at least segregated into older girls, my age, and that made things almost bearable. It was the best of all the cabins, set right on the shore of the lake.

         That first night, I remember looking out across the water, wondering just what Jamie might be up to. I also noticed what appeared to be another camp on the far side of the lake; their lights and campfires reflected in the glassy surface of the lake.

         “What’s over there?” I asked Anna, one of the girls who bunked closest to me.

         “Oh, that’s that boy’s camp, I think it’s called Camp Braddock, or something like that.” Anna made a face. “They sometimes have raids, where they come over here and try to get into our cabins. I think it’s a tradition or something.”

         Well, at least we weren’t entirely cut off from the world of boys, and even if my cabinmates weren’t keen, things certainly looked at least a little brighter. “Yeah? Maybe they’ll break in and kidnap a few of us.” I joked, secretly hoping they might. If Jamie was going to be cheating on me, well… I could certainly return the favor.

         About a week later, Anna’s prediction came to pass. Shortly after lights out, there was some rustling outside the cabin. It wasn’t the usual raccoons rummaging through the candy wrappers we had dropped through the floorboards of the place. No, these were footsteps, and several of them. The creaking of the porch steps sent most of the girls skittering into their sleeping bags, while a few of us, myself included meant to confront the assault as they came through the door. Foolishly, I unlocked the door.

         We heard whispering amongst them as they approached, and I very nearly opened the door. Just as I reached for the handle, the door burst open, startling us. There was the usual screaming as the boys breached our abode, but as I was the closest to them, I was the one they grabbed.

         Feigning anger and rage, I fought against them, and even though I was a good inch taller than any of them, they seemed to have the upper hand. I had to stop myself from laughing as they dragged me towards the lake and an awaiting canoe. What was the worst that could happen? I mused, as they threw me in and pushed off from the shore.

         “I can’t believe we got one!” One of the younger boys celebrated, high-fiving another. The oldest of the group shushed them.

         “Shut up. We’re still too close.” He eyed me up and then smiled, a little evil glinting in his eye. “What’s your name?”

         I looked him up and down, and even though he didn’t hold a candle to Jamie’s good looks, he was no slouch. “Jennifer.” I managed, as the boat rocked a bit, the water sliding noisily along the sides of the sleek canoe.

         “Well, Jennifer, you… are our prisoner.” He informed me, looking a bit too smug for what was certainly a harmless prank.

         “Yeah. Just wait ‘til we get her back to camp.” Another boy said, excitedly.

         It didn’t take very long for the canoe to land on the opposite side of the lake and I wondered just what was going on back at Camp Apotakie. I was certain the place was in some sort of emergency mode, with police being called, etcetera, etcetera. That thought gave me a false sense of security, thinking that the cavalry would soon arrive, affecting my rescue.

         I was pulled from the canoe, and to my surprise a rope was fastened around my wrists, pulling them taught behind my back. “Hey, this is getting a bit real, guys,” I complained. Bound as I was, I had no choice but to follow along as they led me back to what must have been their cabin.

         Once inside, I realized that the plot had been hatched by a single cabin, and the eager boys encircled me at the center of the room. I raised an eyebrow at the oldest. “Well, now that you have me…”

         “Don’t you worry, Jennifer. The fun is only just beginning.” He chortled, pulling a chair up behind me and pushing me into it. As soon as I sat, I was quickly tied in, and my predicament grew a bit more concerning.

         He ran over to what was certainly his bunk and returned with a rather ominous-looking knife.

         “Hey, now. Come on, guys. Fun is fun, but this is…” I was cut off by a hand fastening over my mouth, muffling the rest of my complaint. I felt the cold of the blade slip under my tee shirt, and I panicked for the first time, struggling against my bonds in earnest.

         The tearing of fabric could mean only one thing, and I felt the cool of the night against my skin as my shirt was ripped away. I opened my mouth and bit down on the hand that was over my mouth, eliciting a scream from him as he recoiled behind me.

         Now, I was far from well endowed, but the idea of a bunch of strange boys getting an eyeful of my a-cup boobs was too much. “That’s enough!” I screamed, louder than I think they were prepared for. They immediately looked panicked, as though they had inadvertently crossed some forbidden line, which they had. I looked down at my chest and then back at the oldest. “You’ve had your fun, asshole. Now untie me and take me back.”

         For the first time, I think the reality of what they were doing sank in, and they immediately untied me. As soon as I was free, I reached down for my shirt, but realized that it was pretty much destroyed. “I’m going to need a shirt.” I scowled, angrily.

         One of them reached into his footlocker and came back with a dark green tee shirt. I quickly tossed it on, realizing that it was emblazoned with the camp insignia, Camp Braddock silkscreened across my chest. “Great.” I frowned.

         At that moment, I heard approaching voices, and I knew that help was finally on the way. My heart leaped knowing that my rescue was at hand. The boys all scampered for their bunks, leaving me standing by the chair. For whatever reason, and I still can’t fathom why, I quickly hid myself behind a set of cupboards.

         The door burst open, and an adult followed by two older boys came charging in. “Who the hell took a canoe without permission?” Of course, no one said a thing. I wanted to jump out, explaining what they had done; how they had basically kidnapped me. I looked over at one of the boys, who had a pleading look in his eyes as I met his gaze.

         “Alright! Line up, everybody.” In quick-fashion, the boys hopped from their bunks and formed a line across the middle of the room. “No hiding back there!”

         I knew the guy was speaking to me, so thinking I would immediately look out of place, I slipped from my hiding spot and joined the end of the line. I could tell all the boys were holding their breath, waiting for the inevitable.

         Now, let me say that at the beginning of that summer, my mother had taken me for a haircut. It wasn’t something I wanted or needed to be honest, but it was shorter than I usually got it cut. I remembered asking the hairdresser if she could trim it a little shorter than my mother had asked, and she didn’t seem to mind.  

         So, as I stood there, in my Camp Braddock shirt, my blonde hair just over my ears and barely dusting the collar of the borrowed shirt, I suddenly realized why they failed to pick me out from the others. In fact, mine wasn’t even the longest hair in the cabin.

         “Now. I’m warning you that actions have consequences, boys.” The man scolded.

         Oh, how I wanted to scream out; to let them know the truth. I felt my mouth open to spill the beans, when I felt a pinch from the side. The oldest was standing next to me with the most pathetic look on his face. I knew that if I let them know what the boys had actually done, the punishment would be severe. So severe, I imagined, that the police would most certainly be involved. Save for some mild embarrassment on my part, no one had been hurt, no one, and I made the decision to stay silent.

         “As the camp leader, it falls upon me to make sure the rules are followed and punishments delivered when necessary.” He ran a hand over his closely cropped head and smiled. “See you in the morning.”

         With that said, the three exited the cabin, swinging the door closed with a loud bang. The line held until they were gone, but immediately afterward the boys swarmed me. It wasn’t to do anything bad, but to thank me for my silence.

         Trapped for the night, and giving up hope that anything had been said back at Camp Apotakie, I had no choice but to stay put. In the morning, the boys swore they’d put me on the right path around the lake, getting me back where I belonged. To be fair, one of the boys gave up his bunk for me, and I at least got a few hours of sleep before the sun rose.

         At first-light, as promised, the boys snuck me out of the cabin and were well on their way to sneaking me out of camp. Of course, that’s when we all got caught. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” A voice yelled from behind us.

         “Run!” The one boy said, and I thought about doing just that. By the time I worked up the courage to do it, the three councilors were on top of us.

         “Where’re you going to run to, the girl’s camp?” The one guy laughed. “Come on. It’s not going to be that bad.”

         I imagined myself being punished along with the boys, trying not to overthink what the camp leader had in store. Whatever it was, I was sure I could handle it as well or better than the boys.

         As we were filed into what must have been the dining hall, I suddenly got a sick feeling. There I was, the only girl in a sea of boys. Normally, this would have been a dreamy situation, but just then, it was anything but.

         All eyes were on us as the camp leader walked out and stood facing us between the line we formed and the sea of faces behind him. “These boys broke the rules, campers.” He said, to a rumble of disapproval from the room. “And when people break rules, there has to be a punishment.” There was a small amount of polite cheering and clapping which was quickly silenced.

         One of the councilors opened a small box next to the leader, and I very nearly shit myself when I saw what was inside. The boys had stayed silent up until now, but I could see the uneasy look on their faces as they imagined my horror. I knew what was coming, so when one of them tried to speak up, I quickly stepped forward. “It was my idea, Sir.” I lied, in my best imitation of a boy.

         “Then you’ll be first.” The leader smirked, running his hand through my sun-bleached curls. He raised his eyebrows, almost regretting what he was about to do. I heard the buzz of the clippers before I felt them at the top of my forehead. The cheering started in earnest then, and even though I could hear the objections of the boys behind me, I doubted the leader heard them. His concentration was exacted on my impending haircut.

         It was a strange sensation. The vibrations from the machine tickled against my scalp, but without a mirror, I couldn’t see what was being done, or just how short my hair was being cut. For a second, I thought I might cry, but fought the urge, redoubling my resolve.

         I knew it was short because I could feel the cool mountain breeze from the windows caressing my head. I had no idea how just short until I reached up at the end and felt the sandpaper stubble left behind by the guard-less clippers.

         The punishment at an end, I fell back to the line, garnering some disbelieving looks from the other boys. Again, I ran a hand over my head, wincing at the severity of the cut. I knew I was bald, but I had no idea how I might look. Oh, I’d toyed with the idea of shaving it before, but never thought I’d ever actually do it, and certainly not in front of a room full of cheering boys. It was humiliating, but surprisingly, not entirely unpleasant.

         One by one, each of the boys were shaved, and I got some idea of how awful I must look as they walked back toward me. When at last, all ten of us were shaved, the leader put away his weapon of punishment and nodded to his councilors.

         “Alright, you knobs…” The older boy shouted, “… it’s the showers, and right now!” Without being able to object, we were herded to an adjacent room and into a long bay of shower heads. “Come on, get ‘em off and get wet!” I looked nervously from one boy to another, as they quickly shed their shirts and shorts, and not seeing any other way, I did the same.

         I think it took a grand total of twenty seconds for one of the councilors to realize something was seriously amiss, or should I say, miss-ing. Of course, this was plenty of time for all the boys to get an eyeful of my naked body.

         Finding the entire situation almost funny, and at that moment something close to exciting, the sudden shouts from the councilors and the ensuing panic was equally awful. I was quickly wrapped in a towel and deposited in a toilet stall, along with my clothes. Once dressed, I was quick-marched across the camp to a small office.

         By then, I’d managed to get a look at myself in an available mirror and to be honest, I looked pretty good… bald. I decided that the sleek, hairless look suited me, which was more than I could say for some of the boys.

         “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you say something? Do you realize I just shaved your head bald?” It was a barrage of questions, and those are the only ones I can remember.

         Shortly thereafter, a call was made, and a rather embarrassing exchange was had with the camp leader of Apotakie. I swore that I’d gone with the boys willingly, and judging by my silence, even at the prospect of having my head shaved, they had no choice but to believe me.

         I was admonished for stripping in front of the boys in the showers, but fell back on the barking demands of the councilors as my defense. Eventually, they just shook their heads and chalked it up to kids being kids.

         As for the rest of the summer, I made more than a few covert trips across the lake to hang with my newfound friends. One in particular had captured my fancy, and as brutish as he had been that first night, we ended up being closer than just friends. We all swore we’d keep in touch, or course, but you know how those things go.

         I eventually confronted Anna, after the novelty of my baldness had lost its edge. “Why didn’t you say something?” I asked.

         “It was what you wanted. You even said so, Jen. I didn’t want to ruin it for you.” As feeble as her explanation was, it had an element of truth to it, so I let it go.

         I was almost sad to be heading home, and with my hair nothing more than bristled white fuzz over my sun-kissed scalp, I knew I’d have some explaining to do. My mother’s reaction was expected, and she swore up and down she was going to sue someone. Of course, once I’d told her the entire, albeit edited story, she soon gave up and simply mourned the fact she had a daughter with no hair.

         As for my boyfriend, Jamie, he didn’t waste any time hooking up with Sandy Gerber as soon as my bus hit the road. He had a good laugh when he saw me, congratulating himself for moving on, as it were.

         So, the week before I started ninth grade, I couldn’t resist heading into Janik’s Barbershop to freshen up my new look. It was getting harder to hide the fact that I was a girl, so I didn’t bother trying, leaving no doubt in the barber’s mind that he was shaving a girl’s head.

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