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Summer Camp, chapter seven side story: Little Camp Shockenawe

Short story By: Toni Roman
Young adult

Summer Camp, chapter seven side story: Little Camp Shockenawe

Submitted:Jul 26, 2013    Reads: 470    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Summer Camp

chapter seven side story: Little Camp Shockenawe

We are limited to less than seven minutes for showers in the bunkhouses and log cabins. Those in the survival skills program and jamboree in the tent city use MASH-style shower tents. Survival skills is one thing but the camp administrators did not want kids taking soap and washing in the lake nor did Mister Fubar want trouble with the county health department so compromises had to be made. Latrines were replaced with Porta-Potties the first week.

Needless to say, tent city is located far from the lake and river. The ecology and environment program participants helped the professionals monitor chemical and biological purity of the lake.

In tent city, there was no sink to wash hands or brush teeth. The pipe sticking out of the ground with the faucet or spigot (that's tap to you British) tended to produce long lines and mud from almost constant use. Those who came barefoot left with muddy feet. Except in the middle of the night, kids were willing to trek to the mess hall to use the restroom because it had decent sinks and a dry floor. Mister Fubar appealed to the board which authorized him to lease the recently closed Camp Minihaha a few miles away.

Little Camp Shockenawe

The entire survival skills program, adult leaders and teen participants, was moved in one day to Camp Minihaha. Overnight, the Camp Minihaha sign was taken down and the next day at the gate was the new "Little Camp Shockenawe" sign. It was easy to see why Camp Minihaha went bust. Compared to Camp Shockenawe, the facilities were second rate. Barracks and huts instead of bunkhouses for six teens and multistory log cabins for coed language students. However, to the kids in tent city it was a major improvement. Lots of sinks under a shed if you didn't mind people watching you brush your teeth. Survival skills program participants tended to be more concerned with mental privacy than with physical privacy.

Without the oppressive authority of "Big" Camp Shockenawe on them, the kids took to skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing. These kids turned out to be the children of European and Australian parents whose jobs brought them to the United States. Unlike Americans, they were not hung up on clothes. Also there were the children of the children of hippies. Third generation hippies just could not be dictated to. Everything the hippies had predicted -- global warming, overpopulation, pollution, nuclear proliferation, energy crisis, drug addiction, super-diseases from overuse of antibiotics and triclosan, growing illiteracy in the USA, the dumbing down of America, and terrorism caused by religious Fundamentalists and Fundamentalism -- back in the Sixties had come to pass. Except the prediction that machines would kill humans. That hadn't happened. Yet. So hippies were understandably contemptuous of the opinions of squares who were still stuck back in the Nineteen Fifties. And these third generation hippies also defied assumptions in two other ways: drugs and money. Hippies had been the first to give up drugs back in the Haight-Ashbury days and moved on to yoga, biofeedback, holistic health, running, health food, organic farming and alternative medicine. Squares meanwhile were using drugs in suburbia and even in rural areas there was oxycontin or "hillbilly heroin." The rednecks who used to beat up hippies were now strung out and running meth labs. Some of those desperate housewives in suburbia were desperate because they were prostitutes to support their drug habit. Still the media insisted on thinking of hippies as either long extinct or all poor and therefore beyond consideration. To be sure, some were poor. But some hippie teens were the children or grandchildren of billionaires (with a B) who owned such things as ice cream corporations, computer companies and even a media conglomerate. Many of the new space companies were owned by hippies. Not that Star Trek was their idea of a good future. Too military. Not civilian enough. But a whole lot better than the wars of Star Wars or the battles of Battlestar Galactica or that series about the killer robots from the future.

A note about lifestyles: Nudists are people who go nude in private at home or in privately-owned camps. Naturists are people who go au naturel in national parks, out in nature, and in public. Nativists are Christians who go native like Saint Francis to get back to the Garden of Eden. There is a fourth and fifth group also. They have different religious views, separate organizations (FKK, ASA, etc.), and their politics range from ultraconservative to radical.

Explorer scouts and senior girl scouts were trustees at Little Camp Shockenawe. In addition to survival skills like knife making, the emergency services training program (lifeguard, first aid, CPR, rescue) was also moved over to Little Camp Shockenawe. Humans are curious creatures. They claim to want to get back to nature but the first thing they do is build. These kids were no different. Instead of waiting for the adults in Big Camp Shockenawe to provide for them, the teens found the tool shed and started fixing up the place. The freshly painted "Little Camp Shockenawe" sign was only the first project. They planted a vegetable garden, repaired roofs, repaired plumbing, repaired electrical wiring, mapped the grounds, hunted and fished for meat, gathered berries and mushrooms, made deals with local farmers to provide milk and fresh fruit, built a little stone mill above a creek falls to grind wheat for whole grain flour for baking in outdoor ovens. Camp Minihaha had a kitchen but they built an outdoor stone oven just for fun. They gathered local herbs for treating cuts and bruises.

The ecology and environment program participants who came over from "Big" Camp Shockenawe to help were welcome but the voyeurs who came over just to stare or get in the way of projects like the mill or roofing or the helipad were not welcome.

The survival skills program teens were at the bottom of the social class totem pole at (Big) Camp Shockenawe. Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm and all that. Their parents and grandparents had spent the Sixties getting their heads beat in by cops, rednecks and other bigots. So they learned how to work the system. The teens called their rich parents, the rich parents complained to Mister Fubar, and Mister Fubar banned visitors from Camp Shockenawe to Little Camp Shockenawe unless the visitor got permission from their visitation committee. The visitation committee was three Little Camp teens who had been elected by their peers. Visitors from the Big Camp were charged one dollar each to come over by activity bus. Canoes wouldn't make it because there were farms and falls separating the two camps. Visitors got a rather impressive tour and classes in survival skills. Like in Tom Sawyer, the survival skills teens put the voyeurs and visitors to work painting and hauling rocks for the mill and another project: the nature trail. Demand was so high that the next day they jacked up the fee to ten dollars but the visit included a cave tour (where they aged cheese), a meal they couldn't get back at the Big Camp (squirrel stew, Jerusalem artichokes, and zucchini bread), a look at the fire engine in the new garage the teens had built for the volunteer fire department next to the fire tower, a walk up the fire tower, and the hang gliding hill. It had thermal updrafts that the Big Camp lacked. This was a case of taking a lemon (Camp Minihaha) and turning it into lemonade (a cash cow). Mister Fubar could not complain about kids going wild because there was no drug use, they organized their own security, no girls or boys were molested, it had not cost Camp Shockenawe one penny for the repairs to the place, and the teens even offered to pay the lease with the profit left over from bulk milk and fresh fruit bulk purchases. Mister Fubar was worried by the prospect of teens owning and operating a competitor to Camp Shockenawe. Their parents had clout within the denominations that owned Camp Shockenawe so it was a very real threat and a very real possibility. Mister Fubar therefore gave the teens in the Little Camp "enough rope to hang themselves." The expression means freedom. He figured that with lax adult supervision (there was an overworked scoutmaster), the teens would screw up and he could shut them down and send them home. But on the other hand, Little Camp Shockenawe, like the Big Camp, was a success. You don't argue with success. It is just that Mister Fubar hadn't signed on to run a nudist camp. What if some girl got raped? It was enough to give him ulcers and gray hair. He had created a monster.

The square teens coming over from the Big Camp had a different view. The hippie teens and the young Euros and Aussies had done all this without adult help. It impressed the heck out of teen visitors. "My old man and my old lady don't think I can do a thing. Look at what these kids have done." This was a common thought of visitors. The teens living in Frontier Town would have been scandalized to know that in less than three days time the survival skills program participants had gone from Stone Age to Space Age, from living like Rambo in a cave killing wild boars to using the cave to age cheese, from living like apes to luxury tree houses. It wasn't all work. The survival program teens did the hard work in the cool of the early morning [those pre-dawn activities] and played in the hot afternoon floating on rafts, sipping ice water, using their laptop computers in their tree houses (some had little solar-powered air conditioners), and of course, skinny-dipping. Fred Flintstone and Rambo never lived so well.

Calling it "Space Age" was no stretch: they had a helipad, satellite phones, sublet a hill to the astronomy program to build an amateur observatory, and many of the teens had been to US Space Camp in previous years or flown parabolic flights on the Vomit Comet to experience zero-G. And they had a genuine astronaut in their midst: one teen was the designate to be the first teen in space next year. He did not have to wait on slow-as-snails NASA. His parents owned a space company and were buying him an orbital flight aboard a Russian rocket. The only obstacles that stood in the way of space flight were other people in line ahead of him, technical delays, and tearing off pages of the calendar.

The survival skills program teens were now at the top of the social class totem pole at Camp Shockenawe. In hindsight, it was inevitable.


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