Summer Camp Adventures: The Missing Shoe

Lily L., Creative Response

It was a windy day at summer camp, so there wasn’t much to do. The older kids were only allowed to be on the water in the afternoon, so the younger kids could be on all the land activities. Sailing, motorboating, as well as water skiing were all closed because the waves were too high. The only thing left was fishing and knot tying. I’d spent my fair share of lazy days sitting on the dock playing with a rope instead of doing something real, so I knew all the knots they had to offer. And who wants to be at the fishing station where hooks are flying everywhere and everything smells like raw shrimp? Not me! But the thing is, if I was caught at my cabin doing nothing, then I’d get in trouble. So, during times like these my friend Lori and I just walk around the camp’s grounds.

Our summer camp is in North Carolina on the coast of a river, really close to where the river feeds into the ocean. This is convenient because that fact is why the river is 2.5 miles wide. Although the river is freshwater, the ocean is salty so the water where we are turns out to be kind of brackish. This is annoying because the water is fresh enough that sharks don’t swim in it, but the water is decidedly salty enough to allow jellyfish in. I have been stung many times, and it is not fun. The red jellyfish sting the worst. 

If you are looking straight at the waterfront, water skiing takes place all the way to the left right where camp’s property ends. This is also where the marina is located, where they keep the bigger boats or the extra ones. After that is the pier. The pier is very long. To the left of the pier is motorboating. More piers branch off it, forming what appears to be an array of little fingers reaching into the water, and this is where the boats are kept. At the end of the pier is the fishing station. On the left side is where the opti sailboats are kept. Moving off the main pier towards the right is the sail loft. From there, you can go down into the water where 50 sunfish sailboats are kept tied to the seafloor. These are the kind of boats that practically anyone can sail. Then there are the Flying Scotts. After all that, there is a lot of open space before you get the ropes course, all the way to the right, where Camp’s property ends. 

After you move back off the shore, the middle of camp is mostly occupied by it’s 54 cabins. Somewhere in there are the soccer, basketball, and volleyball courts. Then archery and riflery are right by the entrance. Next to them are the tennis courts and the golf course, and then all the way to the very back of camp are the horse stables. Barely anyone ever goes back there because they are so far away. Right in the center of camp, a lagoon sits. They had to build a lot of bridges over it. Here, people swim and play paddle sports, but across it is a zipline. 

Lori and I decided to walk around camp so that we didn’t get caught doing “nothing.” As long as we were walking, it appeared as if we were going to one of the many camp activities, but we didn’t actually have to do anything or end up anywhere; no one would know. We started off from our cabin and walked across the bridge. Our cabin was all the way to the right of camp, right next to the ropes course. Usually. we walked all the way to the left, then back by the stables, then to the back right where the entrance and tennis courts were, and then straight down back to our cabin and made a kind of loop like that. 

This time, as we walked across the bridge, Lori’s shoe fell off. She was wearing these Birkenstocks that were made out of the same material as Crocs, so we called them Birkencrocs. As she turned back to retrieve her shoe, the Birkencroc was blown into the lagoon! We both screamed with a roar of laughter. Thank heavens it floated! However, there was no way we could reach it from the bridge, so we went back to our cabin to get the broom to try to hook it somehow. We each took one broom and ran back to the bridge, but when we got there, we realized that her shoe had been blown to the shore. 

This was a problem because that entire part of the lagoon was bordered by thick grass and bushes. We decided to go for it despite the challenge. We ran all the way around to where her bright blue shoe was. And mind you, Lori still only had one shoe since both of us lacked the common sense to grab another one when we had returned to the cabin for the brooms. We took the stick ends of the broom and started pushing the grass away. Occasionally, we would stomp on the grass to keep it down. When we finally began making headway, a counselor walked by and took one look at us before throwing us a scolding frown. Instantly, we knew we were in trouble and needed to find another way to the shoe. “But my shoe is in there!” Lori tried to plead to the counselor as the counselor yanked us away from the lagoon. All she said in response was “I don’t care, find another way. And also, there are probably snakes in there.” 

This scared us away. We ran with our brooms over to paddle sports to see if we could kayak over to the shoe instead. Normally, when kayaking, we weren’t allowed to go under the bridge and right now, no one was allowed out at all because of the wind. We were hoping they would make any exception. This did not happen. We were harshly shot down on many levels. There was a boy at paddle sports, which was a rare sighting considering this was an all girls camp. He was probably one of the administrators’ kids. This also made me mad because why didn’t he just go to the boy’s camp? I guess, he liked hanging out with all the girls and getting special privileges because he wasn’t a camper. We did not want to stick around him, so we headed to the creative arts hut, which is where our favorite counselor worked to see if she would help us out.

As soon as we set off, people all around the camp started looking at us. We were the two crazy girls running across the soccer field with brooms! We didn’t care about their stares though. In fact, we thought the entire situation was very funny and we embraced it. We took the brooms and put them between our legs and became the Harry Potter squad! When we got to “Cre arts” as we called it, we caught sight of our cabin counselor, CJ, and asked her what we should do. She said, “I don’t know. Why are you talking to me?” 

“We thought you might have an idea,” I said.

“Well, I’m not really supposed to leave here, but you should talk to Abbey because she’s allowed to leave her post. But keep me updated, I want to know what’s happening with you two.” 

She looked at us, head to toe and laughed. “You guys are such characters.” 

Then we ran off to find Abbey, who was another one of our cabin counselors. We found her by the sailing station and told her the story, “We went to CJ and she said she thought it sounded like an Air staff problem.” 

Air staff were the kind of counselors who pretty much just floated around camp doing whatever they wanted. They acted as the camp’s guidance counselors, and just made sure everyone was happy. 

She listened, shook her head, and then said, “You know what? I think that sounds like a CJ problem.”

We knew that running back to CJ was not going to be helpful for us in the slightest, but we enjoyed running around the camp like crazy people, so we did it anyway. When we got there, I told CJ, “Abbey said she thought it sounded like a CJ problem.”

I couldn’t tell if she found this funny or annoying, but she smiled and said, “Okay, I have an idea. You know the people in the golf carts?”

“Yeah,” Lori said.

“Find one, and see if they can help you.”

The people who drove around camp in golf carts were the important people. They told us the announcements in the morning and were always up on the stage making decisions in the mess hall about rain and stuff like that. They were practically celebrities at camp! We walked along the gravel roads, waiting for a golf cart to pass us. But none did. 

Finally, after what felt like hours, one did pass by. However, the lady in the cart was on the phone and neither of us were very interested in trying to interrupt her for fear that we might anger her, so we kept walking along the gravel pathway. Then we found another golf cart, but no one was in it. We waited for the owner to come back, and eventually she did. The owner of this cart turned out to be Ally, the program director of the land activities. This was good because paddle sports were considered a land activity. 

We walked up and Lori said, “Excuse me, but we are having a kind of issue.” I giggled. Lori continued, “My shoe fell off and was blown into the water over there.” She pointed at the place where it was. “We were wondering if there was any way we could get it out of there?”

Ally looked down at Lori, who still only had one shoe on, then over toward paddle sports. “Sure,” she said. “Let’s see what we can do.” 

She allowed us to hop on her golf cart. This was also a rare opportunity because usually the only time campers ride in golf carts is when they are being taken to the health center. We arrived at the launch point and that one boy was still there. Ally addressed him and said, “Brewer, can you go get that shoe over there for this young lady.”

“Fine,” he grumbled reluctantly, but I think he actually enjoyed playing the hero in this situation. I saw a small smile creep across his face as he turned towards the kayaks. It turns out that Brewer was one of Ally’s kids, so that worked out for us really well. He got in a kayak and paddled under the bridge. The way back took a lot longer since he was working against the wind, but when he got back, he held up Lori’s Birkencroc triumphantly. We were so excited. 

“Thanks, everyone!” Lori yelled before we hoped on our broomsticks to go tell CJ. When we got to her, we could barely talk and we were laughing so hard.

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