Judy was happier than ever before in her entire life. She was reluctant to actually go to the Girl Campers Summer Camp, but now she was glad her mom talked her into leaving home for the very first time.
She was sitting on the big trunk at the end of her cot in the open wall house located at the end of the line of camper’s sleeping quarters. Her house was called “Chippewa” for an American Indian tribe just like all of the other houses that were spread throughout the campsite. Her best friend Millie was two houses over in “Mohawk”. She was surprised there were so many different tribes and that they all had their own sets of customs.
As a Chippewa girl, she was supposed to wear the leather skirts favored by the tribe. They matched the wonderful leather moccasins that made her feet feel like they were being hugged by a friend. All the Chippewa girls kept their hair in braids to show fealty (Judy had absolutely no idea what “fealty” meant but that is what the tribe leader told them the first night of summer camp) to the “Great Spirit”.
The Chippewa’s were reputed to be great fishing experts and Judy had never fished in her entire life.
Today, her tribe was to learn all about snakes. She was not very happy about that. The very sight of the snakes scared her and made her tremble down deep inside. They kept telling them that “none of the snakes are poisonous” but she had her doubts about that. The first time she felt one of the creatures start to wind around her ankle, she decided it was time to find her fishing stuff and head for the lake.
Judy must have washed her leg for the umpteenth time but the memory of the snake still made her a little scared inside. She was certain that the badge for the care and feeding of the reptiles would never be on her chest but she didn’t care. She was going to catch the biggest fish ever and they would take her picture in front of the Chippewa house for everyone to look at and say,
“That’s Judy Wilson in the picture. She caught the biggest fish ever taken out of Black Diamond Lake in the history of the camp.”
She checked her equipment to make sure she didn’t forget anything. Fishing line, hooks, cork, bread for bait, (She couldn’t stand the silly worms. They were far too icky and hard to dig out of the ground.) and a pail with some water in it to keep the fish happy on the way to the dinner table. Judy knew they had to be cleaned first and she dreaded that job. Maybe she could talk Mollie into doing that chore because she seemed to have taken a liking to it. It was probably because her older brother was a real fisherman on one of the boats that left the harbor real early each morning. Paul was 18 now and pretty much an adult even though he still lived at home and didn’t have a real girlfriend. Her friend Mollie was always telling her this story or that story about the different trouble he was prone to get into. Sometimes, she thought Mollie was just making it up to entertain her because one boy couldn’t be that bad.
Since she was almost four years younger, the starry-eyed Judy saw Paul as a perfect boyfriend. He was someone she could almost reach out and touch and he didn’t even know she existed because of her age. She didn’t mind because she knew she was far too young for such things. Besides, she had lots of other things to keep her busy like the tempting lapping waves of the mysterious dark lake that went almost to the horizon.
Her mom told her that “There would be plenty of time for boys later” and Judy accepted that as a fact of life and didn’t question her mom’s wisdom. Still, sometimes it was fun to imagine what it would be like to be in the arms of a real boy who smelled nice and actually paid attention to her and not some football game or some silly car. She hoped there would be some of those left when she finally grew up and was allowed to go out on a “date” to find out what all the talk was about.
Right now, she stretched the fishing line out on the short pier located close to the red, white and blue swimming areas for the beginning, intermediate and advanced swimmers. They were very safety conscious about the swimming in the summer camp. The girls all had to wear color coded swimsuits to show the level of their swimming ability and they used the “Buddy System” which paired the girls up with a permanent partner to be with them in the water at all times. If one girl could not go in the water, the other could not swim either. It worked very well and they had not lost a single girl ever.
She looked over at the girls yelling and laughing in the designated areas under the supervision of several lifeguards who kept an eagle eye on them when they were in the water. Every now and then, they all got out of the water and the partners held their hands up in the air to show the “buddies” were all accounted for.
Judy hoped that they would not be upset at her ditching the reptile study classes but she could always say she got sick to her stomach and had to lay down to feel better. She would never admit the snakes disgusted her and made her want to run in the opposite direction. The other girls would tease her without mercy for the remainder of the stay in summer camp.