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The early August morning air was heavy with the heat and humidity coating the lake and the surrounding woods like a blanket. Through the heavy air the sounds of mosquitoes and other insects were carried from the woods to the camp that was located on the west side of the lake. The surface of the lake was still, no waves marred the smooth surface of the water acting like a mirror reflecting the light from the sun in a rainbow of sparkles. The blue of the sky made the lake appear far bluer than in reality.
The western shore contained a small beach where there were four docks, three lined with canoes and other small boats while the fourth was different since it was wider and had a railing around most of it. A little ways out from the shore and docks was a raft large enough to hold about a dozen people comfortably.
Flowing up form the beach was the camp, which contained a couple of large buildings surrounded by more than a dozen smaller ones. A few trees planted in the camp provided shade and meeting areas for camp activiites.
Like most summer camps there were about two dozen structures that would host about one hundred-forty boys ranging from ten to fourteen for the next two weeks. Each of the fourteen cabins would house ten boys along with their councilor. There was one large mess hall/entertainment structure, five structures that housed the outdoor showers and indoor toilet areas, a equipment shed about as large as the mess hall, and finally the main offices where the nurse and main camp offices were located which will also house the nurse and main councilor.
The camp was located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range along the west side of Yosemite Park and was about fifteen miles from the nearest town and had occupied the same spot since the fifties. The only access to the camp was a dirt road that wound around for about five miles before hitting a local road that lead to a little town call Red Waters.
The camp was a hive of activity as fourteen councilors, the owner of the camp and the nurse hurriedly complete a few minor details before the arrival of the kids. Most of those present have been there about four days, priming the water pump, ensuring what little plumbing was in the camp was working along with the refrigerators. Also during those four days they had to fill the propane tanks, get the electricity turned on, stock food for everyone while cleaning and repairing the buildings for the arrival of the kids.
A shout was raised as the first bus came into view filled with children from various cities, which had the councilors and camp staff hurrying into their assign stations.
The atmosphere seemed charged with excitement but at the same time tinged with worry for many of the first year councilors wonder if they would be able to handle the kids coming while those councilors that had survived previous summers knew what to expect. During the four days they were together the old hands had briefed the newbies on which kids from the previous years were trouble with a capital “T”, as well as, those that got homesick or might have trouble adjusting during the first few days.
A few of the more experience councilors have been assigned the task of looking after the kids that never had been to camp and most cases the first time any of them have been away from home. One of these councilors was a teenager by the name of Don Flack.
Don had been coming to this camp since he was ten and knew the camp and the surrounding woods like the back of his hand since his father and camp’s owner were best friends. This was his second and probably last year as camp councilor since he was planning on starting the police academy the next summer. He had always wanted to be a cop like his dad but not just any cop but a detective. Don had just turn seventeen a little over a month previously and like most teenagers thought of himself as being grown up and tried to act beyond his years. So he was standing in his assigned spot trying to look mature and conceal his excitement, for he had been chosen as one of three councilors assigned to look after the new kids.
As the five buses pulled up to a stop they were met by one of the camp staffers, who’s job was to tell the child which cabin was theirs while the councilors waited in the background. This reduced time and confusion on everyone's part.
Don straightened and held his pole with the number eight tight as the first kid came off the bus. It was a quick process and soon Don had nine of his ten kids all around the ages of 10 and 11, but he was missing one Alexander Harris. Looking around Don noticed that there were three boys getting off the last bus, two were around twelve / thirteen years old while the last one was about ten which must mean that the youngest was his missing kid.
All three boys had their back to Don, forcing him to watch as Mrs. Moneymaker, the camp secretary, check through her paperwork before sending the older boy towards camp two, and the younger boy to camp ten. Confused Don watched as Mrs. Moneymaker leaned toward the young boy to asked him something before gently taking his hand and turning him around.
Don’s first impression was long shaggy hair, big brown eyes, the worn clothing over too thin of a frame and finally the fading black eye. Being around his father and his father’s friends he heard them discussing cases of child abuse and he had a good idea of what to look for and this kid had all the markers.
Mrs. Moneymaker held the small hand gently while channeling her anger inward, so the child wouldn’t get upset. There was no way the child got that black eye from running into a door and was determine to inform the authoriities of her suspicions. Her eyes met those of Don Flack and she knew that he to had figured it out, but Don had always been a smart boy. If there was anyone that could help this child it was Don.
“Xander, this is Don Flack your summer camp councilor. He’s going to look after you while you are here. Don this Xander Harris.”
Don held out his hand to Xander, “Welcome to Camp Hope Xander. I hope we can become friends.”