Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chapter 7

Chapter 7: The Nameless Method of Acquaintanceship

It was time for drastic action. The time was here. The time was now. Or then. Or, umm, never mind.
I will start off this chapter first by telling you of what kind of method of acquaintanceship this would be. I have not documented what methods I used that didn’t work, and I do not fully remember the method that did. In a nutshell, it basically was me being weird and making dumb jokes out of random statements to get the people to respond and tell us about themselves (Kind of like what a Youth Pastor will do). I had a reputation of weirdness now, but it worked! By the end of that free time, we were talking like we had been friends since birth. Except for Aaron. He didn’t say much at all, and I figured that was just the way he was. You know the type: quiet, doesn’t say much, seemingly shy, and too cool to talk because he was the only one with plaid shorts. He was my next project.
After the whole weirdness intro thing, I walked away from the carpetball tables with Rodney, saying, “Okay, I’m done being weird now.” Rod just laughed. We talked about different things but we stopped when Pastor Stevens approached us and asked, “Who’s up for a game of tetherball?” We agreed, but I was able to con Rodney into going first. I wasn’t scared of losing, I just………uh………. wanted ……….to…….uh……….scout out my, uh, competition before regulation. Everybody does it.
So I stood back and watched the skirmish between Rodney and Pastor Stevens. It happened as follows:
“Ready?”
SMACK!!
SLAP!!
“Whoa!!”
“haHA!!!”
WHOOSH!
“OWWWWWW!!!”
Pastor Stevens won. He was standing there, breathing heavily, a big grin spread across his face. Suddenly, he turned and yelled, “Rachel!”
Rachel turned around from the carpetball tables and called back, “Yeah?”
“Come over here!” Pastor Stevens called back.
“Yes, Sir,” she replied as she commenced walking over to us. She suddenly wished she hadn’t because Pastor Stevens apparently had the urge to completely annihilate his own daughter on the tetherball court. I won’t go into detail on how that went, except I will say that it was rather hilarious. Rachel is rather short, and Pastor Stevens is not.
Rodney and I walked away from this battle (or lack thereof) and started talking again. We stopped at the box hockey tables.
“Wanna play?” I asked.
He gave me a timid look and said, “Well, okay, but I’m not very good.” What a liar. I should probably point out that the term “liar” is not used here as an insult, but merely a statement meant to point out the ironic opposite truth that was at hand. It is ironically opposite because he put me through some of the most intense matches of box hockey I had ever played, and he beat me every time. After a few rounds, I noticed a small, miniature box hockey table, and I suggested playing on that, hoping that I could beat him on those. These games were worse than the first ones. He continued to kick my tail, all the while making me more and more determined to shatter his win streak. These games were games for the ages. Two teenagers whacking each other’s hands with small, plastic sticks trying to somehow knock a foam puck into a tiny hole in the wood. If you still don’t believe that they were intense and rough, let me shatter your suspicions by saying that I broke two of the sticks by smacking Rodney’s hand and using the handle to knock the puck into the goal. He still beat me every time. We were so engrossed in our battle, that we didn’t notice the whistle that sounded, letting all the children know that naptime was over. We continued to hit everything except the puck, and took no notice of anything else until,
“Hi, big brother, Whatcha doing?” That would be David.
I looked up and Rodney took that moment to knock the puck into my goal, the big sneak.
“Do you want some pop?” David asked me. I noticed that Rachel, Aaron, Shannon, Karis, and Rissa had also gathered round, watching our battle of broken sticks and shattered fingers. I never had realized the fans I had, and although I love to keep my fans happy, I didn’t have time to sign autographs.
“Uh, not right now, but thanks,” I told him. “I’m kind of engaged right now.” Then realizing the awkwardness of that statement, I tried to patch it up by saying, “Not to him,” and pointed at Rodney. That only made it worse, and all my fans laughed and made comments on how weird and random that was.
Kids at home, do not make awkward comments like that. Learn from my dummidity (and yes, that is a word) never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever 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It makes people think you’re weird, and you might offend someone. I didn’t, but you might. Please don’t. Okay, back to the story. I shall continue the account of that first afternoon in the next couple chapters and tell about the schedule, the different activities, and the event that immediately follows naptime: A very very crazy, insane, and mindless period of time that we at Swampy refer to as “Canteen”.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A very amusing anecdote

True Story and it happened to me, so I can verify the authenticity of the follow tale.

I was at church bouncing my bouncy ball that I carry around, when a little girl decided to walk up to me and laugh at me and say, "HA HA!!! I'm five years old!!!"

I thought nothing of this comment, until an eavesdropping little boy ran up and said, "Oh yeah? Well take this: I'm SEVEN!!!!!!"

The little girl proceeded to put her hands on her hips and say, "Fine! If you're not gonna marry me, I'll just marry someone else!!!"

Not to be outdone, the boy looked at her and frankly said, "I'm gonna marry whoever God wants me to."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chapter 6: New Acquaintences

Chapter 6: New Acquaintances

After lunch, Mr. Lehman sent the campers to their cabins for rest time and after they left, he called the junior staff over so he could tell us something. I sat down in the front of the cafeteria, looking around at my fellow staff members.
To my left was Trent, Rodney, Rachel and that other round girl who I didn’t know the name of at the time. To my right was Karis, Marisha, and a beautiful girl, about 17, with brown hair down to her shoulders. Sitting next to her was a tall, blonde haired dude with glasses, a baseball cap, and plaid shorts. Don’t ask me why I remember the shorts, because I couldn’t tell you why. I do remember either liking them or hating them. Whichever you think is true, because I can’t remember.
Anyway, Mr. Lehman flipped through his big notebook as he addressed us.
“Junior staff members,” he began, “I hope you all are enjoying your time here at Camp Swampy. Most of you know what your role is, but I found a need to go over it again with you all here together.
“First, you know that I have divided the campers into two teams: the Brits and the C’nooks. After deciding on an Olympic theme, I didn’t think it would be fair to let one team be American while the other isn’t.
“You junior staff members are here to help keep the kids in line, and if they have any questions, you are to try to answer them, especially if they’re asking about spiritual things. We’ll have a junior staff meeting every night after campfire service.
“Now, let’s run through your names real quick so you know who each other are. Trent, let’s start with you.”
Trent was also wearing a baseball cap with brown, curly hair sticking out from under it and he also had glasses.
“Um,” he said, “you already told them that my name is Trent.”
“Well,” said Mr. Lehman, “tell them your last name, Mr. Melnotte.”
Trent looked confused. “Melnotte,” he said.
“I’m Rodney King,” said Rodney who was sitting next to Trent thus being next in line to reveal his name. “You can call me Rod or Junior or whatever.” Next came the short, round girl.
“I am Marissa Crowe,” she informed us. “You can call me Rissa for short.”
“Rachel Stevens,” said Rachel. “I don’t care what you call me, just beware to NEVER call me Shorty or something degrading like that.” Apparently she was very defensive about her height.
It was my turn. “James Giegerich,” I said. “You can just call me……….uh……….James.”
The rest followed suit.
“Karis Giegerich.”
“Marisha Lindquist.”
“Shannon Belding.” This was the brown haired girl speaking. There was a short pause and Shannon elbowed the dude in the plaid shorts.
“Huh? What?” he said. “Oh. Aaron Bjorkquist.”
Mr. Lehman told us, “Now is the time when you Junior Staff have your free time. Every day while the kids are in bed, you guys can play the different games, you can go boating, whatever you want to do.” He paused and then said with a slight smile, “That is, you can do whatever you want as long as it is within camp rules and standards.”
We laughed at this, and he sent us off to do whatever. At first we all kind of stood around outside and looked at each other, wondering if any of us were worth getting to know. Shannon broke the silence.
“Aaron,” she said. “Let’s go play carpetball!”
“Um, okay,” was his reply.
So off they went. Karis started talking to Rachel and Rissa, so I tried to start a conversation with Trent and Rodney. I had made friends with them on Sunday, so I didn’t need much time to do this. We talked about several unimportant, insignificant things before I made the suggestion,
“Why don’t we go play carpetball? There are two tables.”
Everyone thought this a good, sensible suggestion, so we all walked toward the empty table, saying random things like “I haven’t played in forever” (This would be me talking) and “I’m gonna own everyone” (this would be Rachel speaking) and “Let’s just get on with it” (this would be Trent.)
Rachel and Rodney started a game, so I alternated between watching them and watching Shannon and Aaron. Every time Shannon would miss, she’d say, “Oh, for dumb!” Aaron proceeded to stand there in silence.
We all tried making small conversation, but nothing of significance came up. I decided to end this, because this wouldn’t do. We were going to be working with each other the whole week, and I figured that we’d better get to know each other now. I quickly and earnestly looked for common ground.
Rachel was throwing a carpetball. Hmmmm……..maybe I could ask her about…………..technique of………..never mind. I moved on.
Rodney was wiping his glasses. Let’s see……….I don’t wear glasses. Nothing here.
Shannon was saying something to Aaron about how Rissa is a terrible driver. Negative in this department.
Aaron was scratching his ear, saying nothing. No common ground there unless I said, “Man, those stupid itches, they just start itching really bad and it just…….itches. I know how you feel, Dude.”
Rissa was telling Marisha how horrible of a driver Shannon is. I figured they should get together and talk.
Marisha was listening to Rissa. Oh, wait, that was redundant. Moving on…….
Karis was……never mind. I didn’t need to find common ground with her.
Last came Trent, who was holding a broom handle pretending it was a guitar. Hmmm…….I could find common ground here…………
“You play the guitar?” I asked.
“Yep,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite instruments.”
“Sweet,” I said. “I play too.”
“Who’s your favorite artist?” he asked me.
“Uhhhhh,” I had to stop and think. “Of what?”
“Like, uh, song artist,” he replied. “Like, uh, composer, songwriter, band?”
“Oh,” I said. “I, uh, don’t really have one.”
“Uh-huh,” he said. “You like them all?” “Well, no, not really,” I had to answer. This wasn’t going very well. I turned my attention back to the carpetball tables, thinking hard. After some probing, I found out that Shannon, Aaron, and Rissa went to the same church and had all driven to Swampy together, so they were well acquainted. Trent, Rodney, and Rachel all went to the same church, as you already know, so they were all friends and also knew the former three from previous years at Swampy. This left me with the conclusion that Karis and I were the “new kids” in town. I felt an obligation to make sure Karis and I were just as much a part of the staff as the rest of them. I launched into a very odd, but useful acquaintance method that I recommend only as a last resort known as………..I don’t have a name for it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's Coming.......

Chapter 6 is coming. Don't worry, I hope to have it posted by Tuesday. The March tournament is just so amazifying I'm spending more time watching that then writing.
but never fear, the next chapter will soon be here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

If you read my book, be sure to

a. start at chapter 1

b. submit feedback, and

c. email me with additional questions and comments

Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Setting Up

Remember that dumb commercial that always showed at the worst times loudly proclaiming, “You are what you eat”? Does anyone remember what it was advertising? Give me a call or send me an email or something because I forgot.
Anyway, Karis had gone somewhere with some person because they wanted to do something somewhere with each other. Somewhere else. With some other person with another human and in another location doing something random with other people and not in my vicinity. The point is she left me alone with Mr. Hemp who hadn’t given me an assignment yet. He decided to let me follow him around wondering what I was supposed to do and also wondering what was going on inside the cafeteria. Oh yeah, I was also wishing I were Trent Melnotte because he was driving around a four wheeler pulling a wagon thingy that was filled with random camp equipment, plus, he also looked like he knew what he was doing.
Finally, Mr. Hemp turned around and faced me. I wondered if he was dumb and was wondering why I was following him and he just now got fed up with a random stupid teenager following him around. But to my relief, that wasn’t the case. He turned around to finally give me a job. We were over by the power shed standing between the two overturned carpetball tables.
“I need you to help me flip these tables,” he said. “When those kids come out of there this will be the one thing everyone will be in line for.”
He proceeded to walk to the end of the table nearest to the sheds, and I walked to the other end.
“On three,” he said. “One, two, three.”
We were able to successfully flip the tables over with that procedure and then we had to level them out so the kids wouldn’t complain about slants or anything unfair. Once that was squared away, he handed me shop-vac and said, “I need you to vacuum out these tables. The kiddos will be at large soon, so it needs to be done pretty quickly.”
I picked up the shop-vac, wondering how it was going to work

A. Outside

B. With no outlet or anything.

Mr. Hemp obviously saw my obvious need for an obvious solution, so he told me, “Plug it into the generator right there.” He kind of laughed and then walked away. I felt really really dumb. I looked for the generator and decided it must be the big yellow thing that was making so much noise. I looked for an outlet of some sort on it and when I found it I was glad because if I needed to ask Mr. Hemp where it was I would be stuck with the stereotype of…………something dumber than a…… dumb thing that’s dumb.
To make a long story short, I was able to vacuum out the tables just in time for the munchkins to mess around with them.
After this little escapade was finished, I looked for someone I knew, particularly Karis. I had found Rachel, but she was talking to some short kinda plump but kinda not girl with brown hair and big smile. I could tell she was definitely not a camper, so I figured she was either Shannon Belding or Marissa Crowe. I didn’t take time to find out because I heard a voice behind me that I was beginning to recognize very well.
“Hey, kid, you know how to drive a four-wheeler?” It was Mr. Hemp.
“No,” I answered. “But I have driven pretty much everything else. Except for a car. And a boat.”
“Well,” he replied, “I’ll teach you. It’s really easy.”
I walked off with him to the far end of camp where they stored everything in a big trailer.
“Pastor and Mr. Lehman want the paintball course set up by lunchtime.” He stopped and looked at his watch. “That gives us an hour.”
It was here when I first realized the sense of humor he had, because he walked deep into the trailer and brought out a bunch of big wooden cut-outs of animals.
“These,” he told me, “are the targets.”
He handed me a couple of them and told me to start loading them onto the four wheeler’s wagon when Trent came back with it.
“Mr. Lehman told me that we couldn’t shoot the campers,” Mr. Hemp grinned. “Bummer, huh?”
I smiled and agreed. “Maybe he’ll have no choice if we all revolt,” I suggested.
“Now there’s an idea,” he said with a laugh.
Trent eventually moseyed his way over (as best as you can on an ATV) and we loaded up the animal targets. As we did, Mr. Hemp disappeared into the trailer and reappeared a minute later, this time holding two larger targets, one of a bear and the other of a buffalo.
“Take a look at the bear,” he said. “My granddaughter painted these bigger targets.”
I looked and immediately saw what he was talking about. The bear had a purple bow on the top of its head, and long eyelashes. Its claws and toenails were painted with the same color.
“It’s a girl bear,” said a voice behind me. I turned around and saw a girl about a year younger than me with a dirty shade of blonde hair that was done into a ponytail.
“I can tell,” I said. “Who are you?”
“This is my granddaughter, Marisha,” Mr. Hemp told me. “Or you can call her Margie if you want.”
I thought for minute and remembered the name Marisha Lindquist from the staff meeting. I figured that this must be her.
“Now onto the paintball course!” said Mr. Hemp. He motioned for me to hop on the ATV, and I gladly obeyed. The method of driving was rather self explanatory, so I quickly caught on.
I drove across the field with Mr. Hemp, Karis, Trent, Margie, and Trent’s father who seemed to appear out of nowhere. Apparently Karis had been helping Trent take the kayaks down to the lake. We reached the other side of the field to the edge of the woods. There was a small path, barely broad enough to drive a four wheeler through, but I managed somehow.
Mr. Hemp then spoke, “What we’re doing is setting up a paintball course throughout this long trail. We need to find good spots for these animals where they will be hard to find, but not too hard. Remember these are 3rd through 7th graders we’re dealing with. We have a large variety of animals, Things from prairie dogs and squirrels to a large assortment of birds to a bunch of big animals. I have two duck decoys and one goose, and a couple of pheasants, some foxes, woodchucks, a wolf, a bison, a female bear, a pine marten, a warthog, some grouses, and a woodcock.” He held up a small brown bird with a long, thin beak.
“This,” he said, “is the woodcock. This will be the bonus target. They get six points if they see it and six points if they hit it. The rest of the animals are worth one point if they find them and one if they hit it.”
“How do we know if they see it or not?” I asked.
“Obviously we all will know where these things are,” Mr. Hemp answered. “So we tell them to tell us when they see something, then the staff member that goes through with them will mark down that they saw it. Any more questions?”
No one else had any questions, so he said, “All right! Let’s hide these animals!!”
Suddenly, the short, round girl that I told you about earlier (the one who was talking to Rachel) was standing there, and told Margie to come back to the kitchen. They left, so Karis, Mr. Hemp, Mr. Melnotte, Trent, and I set up the course. I will describe it in more detail later, but I will again make a long story short. After a while, we heard another loud siren, signaling lunchtime. Mr. Hemp turned to Karis and me.
“You two can go in and eat now if you want,” he told us. “We three can handle the rest.”
He didn’t need to tell me twice; I was starving! Karis followed behind as I ran to the cafeteria as fast as I could.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Insignificant Happenings

I awoke the next morning, sat up, and wondered where I was. Suddenly, everything came flooding back: The trip, the camp, and the fact that this was Monday, the day we would go to Swampy and not exit until Friday. Feelings of excitement welled up in my stomach as I ripped off my blankets and started to dress. I finished and headed downstairs where I figured everyone else would be. I was right. Mom, Dad, Pastor Stevens, Karis, and Rachel were all sitting in the living room as Mrs. Stevens finished setting breakfast on the table. I wondered where David was. I quickly found out when I heard a *flush* and then a door open. If you don’t get it, it’s okay.
We ate breakfast, loaded up the van, and then Karis and I walked David over to the church where the registration tables were. He got signed up and then stepped onto a big yellow school bus that was waiting outside to take the campers to Camp Swampy. Rachel and the other staff members also went on the bus.
After David got on, Karis and I walked back to our van in the Stevens’ driveway where Mom and Dad were waiting for us. We left before the bus because Mom needed to grab a few extra items for her missionary story. We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way to pick them up. It seemed like an eternity before Mom and Karis were done in the store. I had seen the bus drive by, and grew more and more impatient as dad and I waited in the van. Finally, Mom and Karis came out and we were off to Camp Swampy.
When we arrived, the bus was being unloaded and about fifty screaming kids were running around like ants going in no apparent direction whatsoever. We drove the van to the staff cabin and unloaded our stuff into the room that was designated for Mom and Dad. I would have to sleep in the men’s staff cabin and Karis would sleep in the girls’. David was a camper, so he would sleep in one of the boys’ cabins.
After everything was squared away, Karis and I stood around wondering what we were supposed to do next. It seemed as if we were in the same boat as the clueless campers; we had no apparent direction to follow. We stood there, relished in this particular state of boredom when I popped the suggestion, “Let’s see what David is doing.”
We walked out to the big game field where the bus was still being unloaded and saw that finding David would be an even bigger challenge than we thought. The crowd of screaming campers was still there. They were waiting for their luggage which was being unloaded by the two adult guy counselors, Mr. Schumacher (Mr. Schu for short) and Mr. Hendrickson. After browsing through the crowd of kids, Karis turned to me and said, “I can’t see him.”
I was about to suggest that we should look by the boys cabins, but just then, over the hubbub we heard a very familiar voice over by the washstand.
“IT’S PRONOUNCED GHEE-GER-ICK!!!! NOT GING-ER-ICH!!!! GET IT RIGHT!!!!”
I turned to Karis. “Found him,” I said. We walked over to him. He was standing by himself by the washstand (apparently the kid he was yelling at got scared away) holding his suitcase in one hand and looking kind of confused.
“What’s up?” I asked him.
“What cabin am I in?” he asked me.
“I dunno—hey! Here comes Rodney,” I noticed.
He came over and asked us how we were doing and we explained to him our dilemma. Rodney, a tall, dark haired guy, 16, took off his glasses to wipe off a smudge, set them back on his nose, then replied, “What grade will you be in next fall?”
“Fourth,” David replied.
“Fourth?” Rod asked. “Great! That’s my cabin! Follow me.” Rodney and David walked off to their cabin and Karis and I were left with nothing to do.
I might need to add that in each cabin, there were two counselors: a junior counselor and an adult counselor. Rodney was junior counselor for the 3rd and 4th grade boys’ cabin. Junior counselor is an appropriate title for Rodney, seeing that his nickname is junior because he is the son of Rodney King Sr., thus making him Rodney King Jr., hence the nickname junior. Wow. Unconfuzzle that one.
Anywho, Karis and I stood around looking for something to do for quite a while, and then we heard a very loud siren. It was a megaphone siren. Karis and I looked at each other, wondering what it meant when suddenly, everyone began running toward the dining hall. We thought this was strange, considering it was only ten in the morning. Slowly we began walking toward the dining hall when we heard the voice of Mr. Lehman calling us.
“James! Karis!” he said. “C’mere a second!”
We turned around and saw him standing next to a man we hadn’t met yet.
Mr. Lehman introduced us. “This is Mr. Hemp,” he said, “the camp handyman.”
Mr. Hemp was a well built man in his early sixties and a very stubbly chin. He had a great personality and an even better sense of humor as we soon found out. I was starting to get used to funny people.
Mr. Lehman continued, “You guys will be helping him throughout the week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to the cafeteria so I can explain the opening rules and regulations and such.”
He jogged off toward the cafeteria and left Karis and me with Mr. Hemp. It was at that point when Camp Swampy 2008 officially began. Everyone else was inside the dining hall having fun with friends, but Karis and I were stuck outside setting up camp with a man we had never met before. Whoopee.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Of Mosquitoes, Junior Staff, and a Random Turtle

As we pulled out of the Stevens’ driveway, I decided to try to make conversation with Rachel. Pastor and Dad were in the front two seats, Mom and David in the middle two, and Karis, Rachel and I were in the back. I was in the left window seat, Karis in the middle, and Rachel in the right window seat. Wondering what I should talk about I decided on the obvious.
“So what has your experience been with Camp Swampy?” I asked her.
“Well,” she replied, “After I became too old to be a camper, I had a lot of fun as a member of the Junior Staff.”
“Junior Staff?” I asked. “Are you kidding me?”
She smiled and said, “Nope. I know it sounds dumb. I wish they’d just call us ‘staff’ because ‘Junior Staff’ sounds really absurd.”
David heard the word “absurd” and turned around and said to Rachel, “James says that only nerds say ‘absurd’” I was very close to whacking David over the head. He likes to bring up stupid things that I’ve said in the past. He never seems to remember my wholesome and wise sayings, only the dumb ones.
Rachel grinned and gave me a sideways glanced and then answered, “I am a nerd, so I guess I’ll keep saying it.”
Whew. That was close. I almost offended the first staff member I met. I was glad she had a sense of humor.
From there, the conversation turned to random things and Rachel, Karis and I hit it off like old friends. I found out that she was a lot like me. She had my sense of humor, a lot of my interests, and Karis got along with her too.
We drove a ways, and then turned off the road into a dirt path and then stopped. Pastor Stevens got out of the van, and proceeded to open a large gate. He got back in the van, and then drove through. He got back out, shut it, then got back in the van and we started off down the winding dirt path. It went on for about a mile and a half with dense woods on either side. Finally, we came to a large clearing.
“This is the field we play most of the games in.” Pastor Stevens told us. “But for right now,” he parked in the middle of it, “we’ll use it as a parking lot. Everyone can get out and take a look around. It’s not a huge camp, so if you stay out of the woods, you won’t get lost.”
I was the last to step out. When I did, immediately, I was attacked by my first ever Swampy mosquito. After I killed it, I looked up to see my family walking into a small, white building. There was a small overhang of trees above a picnic bench, with a basketball hoop next to it on the right. To the left, there was a target for baseball, two roughly made soccer goals, and two overturned carpetball tables lying parallel to the each other. Beyond them was a small shack and a rather large contraption of pipes and water barrels. I found out that this was the washstand. I kept walking and to the right of the washstand was another larger shack that had a large window that looked like what you would see on a concessions stand. I kept walking and came to the door of the long white building that the rest had gone in. I stepped in to hear Pastor ask Dad if this would be enough room to set up an easel for my chalk drawing. I told him it would be just enough.
This long white building consisted of two sections. In the larger section there were tables and chairs set up and there was a piano in the corner with a TV on a stand in the other corner. The tables were all in the central area. It was a rather small room, just enough to hold maybe sixty to seventy people.
The two rooms were separated by a wall with a doorway on each side, and a big window with a countertop. On the other side, there was the kitchen.
As I noticed the d├ęcor of the building, I could tell the week had an Olympic theme to it. A large banner hung on the wall with the message, “Going For The Gold” printed across it.
We exited the building through a door on the other side, and saw Lake Swampy. It wasn’t a beautiful lake, and it wasn’t a nasty, swampy lake. It was an average lake. There were two docks that stretched out for maybe twenty or so feet, and out in the deeper waters, there was a raft that floated on several large blue water barrels. Pastor Stevens led the rest of the family inside the boys’ cabins which were nearby the lake, but I stayed outside because Rachel was walking on the beach looking at a large black spot on the ground. Battling mosquitoes most of the way, I walked over to her.
“Whatcha looking at?” I asked. As she answered, I quickly saw what it was.
“I’ve found a friend,” she told me. “I think it’s looking for the water.”
On the ground was a large boxer turtle.
“Maybe you should help it find its way,” I suggested.
She smiled and said, “Actually, I’m kinda enjoying watching it. I want to see if it makes its own way back.”
“That’s cruel,” I joked. “You’re definitely a Republican.”
She laughed and said, “Yeah.”
On the other side of the dining hall was the girls’ cabin, and then further beyond that was the staff cabin. Next to each cabin there were large outhouses. I don’t think I need to explain what went on in them. Unless you are Hagar the Horrible.
After this tour, we got back in the van and drove back to the Stevens’. On the way, I asked Rachel, “What’d you do with the turtle?”
She answered, “I put it back in the water. I loathe dead animals, so I decided to help this one find its way back.”
“Loathe?” David asked.
“It means ‘hate’,” Rachel explained.
“Why don’t you just say hate?” David asked.
“Loathe is more interesting,” Rachel quickly replied. “What is also interesting is what some of the cooks do to Mr. Lehman’s food.”
I thought, oh great, we’re going to a camp with carnivorous mosquitoes and devious cooks.
“Who’s Mr. Lehman?” David wondered.
“He’s the camp director,” Rachel told him. “He’s so very fun to pick on.”
“What do the cooks do to him?” David asked.
The rest of that conversation was very disturbing so I won’t include it here. It wasn’t disturbing because of Rachel’s reply, but because of what her reply led to. David immediately thought up a lot of weird and very crude things to do to Mr. Lehman, a man he hadn’t even met yet. Mom had a talk with David once we arrived back at the Stevens’ house.
Nothing interesting happened after we returned, other than we all went to sleep. The next day was Sunday, and we went to church (which was right next door as I may remind you). The morning service passed, and then we ate lunch at the Stevens’ and then played Monopoly: Here and Now, which is a whole other story in and of itself.
Before the evening service there was a camp staff meeting. It was a good chance to meet the other staff members and to find out what we would actually be doing the following week. My first impression that it would be a good week was from a man named Schumacher. The meeting was winding down, and Mr. Lehman had just run through what was going on the week. He asked if there were any questions, and that’s when Mr. Schumacher raised his hand and made a proposition.
“I was wondering if there was an opening on one of the nights because I bought some fireworks and—legal fireworks—and was wondering if there was anytime I might be able to, heh heh, shoot them off?”
I liked him right away. He was a man of average height a girth, with gray hair and a moustache. He was very lighthearted and very very funny as I found out that week.
There would be six other members on the Junior Staff that week: Trent Melnotte, Rodney King, Aaron Bjorkquist, Shannon Belding, Marissa Crowe, and Marisha Lindquist. Trent and Rodney were at the staff meeting, but the other four were driving down from International Falls, Minnesota on Monday Morning.
That night, slowly but surely that nervous/excited feeling began to grow in the pit of my stomach as I anticipated the following week. It seemed unbelievable that this week had approached so fast. I still wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew I would find out soon enough. Thus began my experience as a member of the Junior Staff at Camp Swampy.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Journey and the Following Occurrences

Throughout this book, I will open each chapter with a few side notes as well as descriptive phrases and stories or maybe an illustration or two introduce the mood of the scene. In this chapter’s opening, I shall fill in a few blanks that may have been drawn from the previous chapter.
First, I am the fifth child out of six. My parents are Stephen and Charlene Giegerich, and are both in their mid fifties. I have four older siblings, two brothers and two sisters. The oldest is Peter who is married and has two daughters. The second is Jonathan who is also married. The next is Deborah, who is finishing up a nursing degree at a Christian college. Then comes Karis who was 16 at the time this story took place. I sit at the fifth position. I was 14 at the time this story took place, and it is of no matter to you how old I am now. If you want to know, I was born on January 2, 1994, and this story took place in July of 2008. Anyhow, that is not of importance. David is the youngest in the Giegerich family, and was nine at the time of our experience at Camp Swampy. We all were “blessed” with a bright shade of blonde hair and blue eyes, which distinguished us as the people of German descent that we are. I hope that helps you as I leave the editorial and move on to the actual story. It is as follows:
I woke up at 5:13 that morning to the annoying buzz of a hair dryer. Mom came in and shook me to make sure I was awake. She knew not to disturb me too much, because I am very testy in the morning, especially mornings that we are bound for a primitive disease camp named Swampy. She left the room quietly, and I sat up slowly. David was already dressed and was gathering his stuffed monkey, writing notebook, pillow, and other items. He looked at me and I quickly shot back a glare that was meant to communicate the horrible pain he would suffer if he said anything. He walked out, dragging his pillow stuffed with belongings behinds him.
Very slowly I pushed back my quilt and swung my legs over the side of the bed. I sat there for a while with my head in my hands, wishing that this were all a bad dream and that we weren’t really going to Minnesota. After sitting there for about ten minutes, I finally stood up and slowly dressed, gathered my belongings and stuffed them into my book bag.
Everyone was running around, packing, eating breakfast, and making sure every loose end was tied up. No one paid attention to me as I ate my breakfast, brushed my teeth, and carried stuff out to the car. I made sure that I was still half asleep so I would be able to sleep for the first half of the trip.
Everything eventually was set, and we were off. As our van pulled out the driveway, I felt a deep feeling of remorse come over me. I hate traveling. Not so much the location as much as the drive to and from. I’m a free spirit who hates being bottled up inside a motor vehicle for several hours. Thankfully, I have mastered the art of sleeping in a car, so it isn’t so unbearable.
Anyway, we drove a while and I sat in the van seat, thinking. Slowly but surely my eyes started to droop and I fell into that wonderful state of unconsciousness known as sleep.
* * *
I woke up several hours later. We were in Wisconsin. Where we were, I couldn’t tell you, but I did find out that it was very close to Duluth, Minnesota. I started my wake up process, happy to know that we were only two hours away from our destination.
Not long thereafter, I was interrupted from my book by Mom yelling, “Look out the window, guys!”
I turned and for the first time, laid eyes on the great Lake Superior. It was beautiful. Huge boats and other watercraft dotted the great blue surface of the waters.
“Karis,” I said, “hand me your camera.”
“Hold on a second,” Mom told us. “Once we get onto the bridge we’ll have an even better view than this.”
I waited, but not for long. Once our front wheel hit the pavement that started the bridge, I yelled, “KARIS!!!! HAND OVER THE CAMERA!!!!”
“OKAY!!!” She yelled back and handed it to me.
I turned it on, focused, and snapped a picture. To my dismay, a lone tree on the beach blocked the shot almost completely. Just my luck, I thought. I didn’t get upset, because there was still plenty of time before we got off the bridge and lost sight of the lake. Once again I focused, waited, and then snapped another shot. Once again another lone tree ruined the picture. I was getting a little annoyed as you can imagine.
“Dad,” I said, “slow up, you’re driving too fast.”
He slowed some, and I tried again. This time, not only was there a tree in the way, but also a random sign that said, “Jack’s Snowmobiles. Open for business.”
I was angry now. I gave up and we never got any good pictures of Lake Superior, but my disappointment didn’t last long when Mom told us, “We are now in Minnesota!”
We were all cheered by this news, and we no longer resorted to finding entertainment inside. All eyes were studying our new surroundings. We drank in everything, enjoying the scenery.
Mom called the pastor’s wife, letting her know that we were only an hour or so away. The rest of the trip there is foggy, and it is also unimportant.
Eventually, we drove down a long stretch of highway that was marked as the road that held our destination on the map. We passed several stores and other businesses and then hit a large patch of wood that stretched for some distance. Eventually it opened and there were more businesses, but also a church with a parsonage next to it.
As we pulled into the driveway, Mom announced, “We’re here!”
We unbuckled our seat belts and just sat there for a minute while Dad got out and greeted a man that had approached from the backyard of the house.
“Hi Pastor Stevens!” Dad said.
“How was the drive?” the man replied. He was of average height, brown hair, well built, and a mustache. Something about him made me like him rather quickly.
“Pretty smooth,” Dad told him. “Traffic was good for the most part.”
To make a long story short, we got out of the van, unloaded, and went inside. He showed us to our rooms, and told us to make ourselves at home. When someone tells me to make myself at home, my first instinct is to go to the fridge. Of course, I ignored this urge. It would be making a mountain out of a molehill in a certain sense.
Anyway, we sat in their living room making small conversation with each other. I separated myself from the chatter and studied the room. It was a nice small room with a good feeling of warmth. My eyes ran across portraits and decorations and then rested on a flatscreen TV. Hmmm, I thought, I have got to get me one of these.
Suddenly, something cold and wet touched my left ankle. I jumped slightly and looked down to see a gray Schnauzer sniffing my feet.
“This is Sterling,” Pastor was saying. “We named him for the color of his fur.”
“Sterling?” David said. “That’s not a color.” David likes to say intelligent things like that. Most people I know do. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
“Sterling silver is a type of silver, dear,” Mom informed him.
The position in which I was in enabled to see the back door that was in the kitchen, and ultimately led outside. I told you that so I could let you know that it opened and in walked an average sized woman with a sort of blonde sort of brunette shade of hair. I say that because I can’t exactly remember what you would call it, so I won’t even try.
“This is my wife,” Pastor Stevens let us know.
She walked in and we did the routine of running through our names and ages that we had done constantly when meeting new people in the past. I almost put it to music and made a family jingle, but no one thought it was a good idea. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
“Our daughter is around here somewhere,” Mrs. Stevens said. “Rachel!”
No response.
“She must be downstairs working on her project she has to do for work,” said Pastor.
“What project?” Dad inquired.
“She has to design and then paint a sign advertising a new section opening at the shop,” said Mrs. Stevens. “Karis, you said that you’re sixteen?”
“Yes,” Karis answered.
“So is Rachel!” Mrs. Stevens exclaimed. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you to her.”
Mrs. Stevens led Karis to the back door and then turned abruptly right and disappeared down a flight of stairs. A few minutes later Mrs. Stevens came up but there was no Karis following her. She went into the kitchen and started finishing dinner. I wondered where Karis was and what she was doing. I couldn’t help thinking that the conversations she might be having with this Rachel person were tons more exciting than the dull one that was going on in the living room. I’d rather talk to a stranger who’s sixteen than a stranger who is……..is……however old pastor and his wife were. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
I sat on the couch, playing with Sterling, oblivious to the conversation going on around me. Those first several moments were so dull; I almost fell asleep on the couch. The only thing that hindered me from intensely studying the back of my eyelids was Sterling’s cold, wet nose that kept touching my ankle. And Hagar the Horrible.
Eventually, Mrs. Stevens randomly said, “Finally decided to be social, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah,” was the reply.
I opened my eyes to see a short, but rather good looking girl with long dark hair and glasses leaning against the wall, and Karis was standing next to her in like manner.
“This is Rachel,” Mrs. Stevens introduced us.
“Hi Rachel,” Dad said.
As she returned the greeting, she smiled, revealing her teeth which had braces on them. My heart skipped. They looked good on her, I thought. She sat down on the couch across the room from me, and was rather quiet. Apparently she thought the conversation was boring. I didn’t blame her, and neither did Karis.
Eventually, dinner was served and we sat around the table, eating and making conversation. Once again, it was rather boring. That is, until Mom popped the question, “So, Pastor, we’ve heard all kinds of ‘horror’ stories about Camp Swampy. Is there any particular reason it’s called that?”
Pastor thought for a minute then replied, “Not that I know of other than the fact that it was named after the boot camp in Beetle Bailey.”
“So there’s nothing swampy about it?” Mom asked.
“Not really,” Pastor told us. “That reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to ask you: Do you want to take a look at it tonight? It’s only about a fifteen minute drive, and it’ll give you a chance to see what you’re getting into this week. If you want to rest tonight, we could do it tomorrow after church.”
Mom and Dad looked at Karis, David, and me to see what we thought.
“Sure,” I said.
“I’m game,” Karis agreed.
“I guess so,” David reluctantly agreed.
After dinner was over, Mom, Dad, Karis, David, Pastor, Rachel and I piled into the Steven’s minivan and drove off to my first ever encounter with a primitive disease camp named Swampy and the mosquitoes therein.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chapter 1

Junior Staff at Camp Swampy

A story based on personal experiences

By James Giegerich

Chapter 1: The Beginning

There are two words that are beloved by every junior high and high school student across the nation. These are words that show the spirit of the common ones, the passion of teenagers. These are two words that show the sense of liberty and accomplishment that exists in the hearts of children throughout our great nation. The two words that define the true meaning of Freedom itself: the words “SCHOOL’S OUT!!!”

Now bear in mind the perspective this is coming from. I am not by any means your run-of-the-mill high schooler aspiring to be a great author someday. I do not by any means sit around repeating my name out loud and picturing it on the cover of a book like some weirdoes I’ve run into do. I don’t study writing methods and other authors very much, and I am not one who uses perfect grammar and freaks out when others don’t. In fact, I hate English class. It’s my least favorite subject. Science is good. Lit is okay, but I’d rather read about things like sports heroes and people doing stupid stuff for kicks. Random things like that make me laugh. Anyway, this paragraph was meant to show you that I am just a normal teenager. Some of my friends are laughing at the previous statement.

Just as a forewarning, this will not be written only in a story form. I will freely and frequently share my opinion(s) with you and I don’t care who you are or what you think, even if you are standing over me holding a battleaxe and threatening to chop the head off of our cat and then cook it for Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t listen to crazy cat-murdering Vikings with bad breath. And yes, I am talking about you, Hagar the Horrible.

Not to worry though, none of the following will in any way be offensive, politically incorrect, or sinful, unless your name is Hagar the Horrible. Now back to summer and school releasing its pupils into the wild.

I was homeschooled and lived in South Bend, Indiana. I had just finished my eighth grade year. I finished that final math problem then promptly threw my books aside to the place on the floor they would stay for several months.

Summer was here! Thinking of the great time it would be having no school and sleeping in every day, I rushed into the kitchen where my parents were standing at the counter talking. My dad had just set down the phone and was relating some information to my mom.

“So I guess that’s what we have planned.” He said.

I smiled inwardly, knowing that they were discussing summer vacation plans.

“Where are we going this year?” I asked.

Mom turned to me and said, “Well, not really anywhere.”

“What?” I said. “What do you mean, ‘not really anywhere’?”

Dad turned to me and answered, “We don’t really have the funds to go on a vacation.”

“What do you mean ‘don’t really’?” I pried further. I could tell they were beating around the bush about something, and I was determined to make them spill as soon as possible.

“We’re not going on a vacation per say.” Mom told me, “More like a ministry trip” Now before I go any further, I need to explain a few things. First, my parents are missionaries to the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University of South Bend (IUSB). They’re working to reach the student and faculty with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Being only 14 years old at the time, I supported the ministry and was somewhat involved and I used my talents (I’m a chalk artist with awesome people skills) to help provide deputation and support needs meeting at churches for my dad. I would draw while my dad preached. Now you may see that the phrase “More like a ministry trip” wasn’t a big surprise to me.

“Where are we going?” asked my little brother David who had just walked in the room. My older sister, Karis, had also entered the room.

“We’re going,” Mom paused for a dramatic effect, “to Camp Swampy”

Now, dear Reader, does this sound like an awesome vacation to you? Going to a camp named Swampy? We didn’t think so. We remained rooted in this opinion and became even more established in it after what our parents told us next.

“It’s rather domesticated,” Mom told us.

“Rustic,” Dad added.

“Unique,” Mom put in.

“Far out,” Dad said.

“How so?” I wondered.\

“Well,” Mom stopped, trying to think of the best way to put things, “See, it doesn’t have running water.”

“Which means no showers,” said Dad.

“And it has no electricity,” said Mom.

“Which means no TV, video games, or—“

“We get the point,” I told them.

Mom continued, “We’re supposed to be the missionary family this year. I’m supposed to give the missionary story, Dad will give the devotionals, and James you’ll do a chalk talk one of the nights.”

“How am I supposed to do a black light drawing when there’s no electricity?” I asked, hoping to eliminate the possibility of going. I thought I might be able to by bringing out small fallacies little by little.

“There’s a central generator that will provide some lighting and also power the kitchen appliances,” Mom said.

So much for that idea.

“Plus,” Dad for some reason needed to add, “The mosquitoes are really bad.” None of this was making us feel better. Especially the last comment about the mosquitoes.

“Can’t you get malaria from mosquitoes?” I asked, trying to make my parents see that this was a big mistake.

“What’s Malaria?” David asked.

“It’s a disease.” I told him.

“Oh great,” David lamented. “You mean we’re going to a disease camp?”

“No, don’t call it that,” Mom scolded him. “We’ll only be there for a week, so it won’t be that bad.”

“Where is this Camp Swampy?” I asked, knowing that further resistance was useless.

“It’s in Hibbing.” Dad said.

“Where’s that?” Karis wondered.

“In Minnesota.” Mom told us.

“Where’s that?” David asked.

Mom answered, “It’s next to Wisconsin and above Iowa and Illinois.”

“Are those countries or continents?” David pondered.

I could give you the details on how the rest of the conversation went, but it would be pointless. We didn’t want to go to a camp, and definitely not to a disease camp with man-eating mosquitoes. And to this day, David still gets his countries and continents mixed up. Plus, the description given of this camp didn’t sound good to us and I doubt any citizen of the United States of America—which is a country by the way—would think it does (unless you are Hagar the Horrible) .

The dates were set for the first full week of July. We would leave on Saturday, July 5th. There was no getting around it. We had no choice. We had to go.

The summer progressed and our feelings toward Swampy didn’t change. June was winding down and that meant soon we would be loading up the van and driving to Hibbing, Minnesota to spend a week at Camp Swampy. The Fourth of July came, which was normally a good day for me. But the dread of a ten hour drive and spending a week at a primitive place like Swampy lingered in my heart as well as David's.

As my head hit the pillow that night, I wondered why I was worrying so bad. I mean, any place that is fit to stay at for a week can’t be all that horrible. Plus, I had heard the pastor of the church that does the camp had a daughter who was only a year and a half older than me.
After I had thought the previous sentence, I hit myself on the head, scolding myself that that was the dumbest thought that had ever crossed my mind, even more so than the thought of spending a week at a primitive disease camp named Swampy.

Junior Staff at Camp Swampy

I am writing a book. It is a true story about my experiences at a summer camp in Hibbing, Minnesota. I will post chapter 1 soon. It is mostly an entertainment centered book, but i bet you can learn some things when you read it, too.

This is My first Post

I haven't ever blogged before, but I thought it would be interesting to start doing it. I plan to update about once a week or so, whether it be with humor, news, or whatever. I welcome your feedback and comments!