Positivity Camp Part XXIII
Hope everyone had an awesome New Year or at least an awesome break for the holidays! I’ve been busy with yet another installment of Positivity Camp. Hopefully this one is as thrilling as the rest as it explains a little more about the history of the camp…or should I say...purpose?
It was a long walk back to the front office, and Mr. Petrel made it even longer by making us wait for my group to walk further ahead. Apparently he didn’t want them too close in case we started talking. Not that I had any intention of talking.
When we did finally start walking, I preoccupied myself with watching the group through the trees. We would be on the same path, at least until we reached the Dining Hall. I saw them clearly a few times, but they were far away from us. Honestly, they probably never had any intention of hanging back and eavesdropping. No one in their right mind would have thought to do something like that...except maybe for either myself or Wendy.
Thinking about random topics helped pass the time, but it was still a boring walk. I did my best to avoid thinking about Counselor Kimberly’s fate. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good, and I knew I would lose my cool if I thought about her because that inevitably led to me wondering what awaited me.
As my thoughts twisted in and out of the punishment that awaited the disgraced counselor, my own punishment, and all the attempted diversionary thoughts in-between, Mr. Petrel remained unchanged. He walked beside me in a stiff and somehow formal manner. I did my best to avoid looking in his direction. His presence was about as uncomfortable as Teacher’s, if not more so since he was above Teacher in rank.
When we passed by the Dining Hall, I couldn’t help but look in his direction as I tried to see what the rest of my ‘new’ group was up to. The angle was all wrong and the blinds were shut, but I could hear the faint sound of laughter coming from the building. I hated them. I hated them so much!
The cowards! They were only enjoying a good time because they hadn’t stood up against Teacher and Mr. Petrel. They hadn’t stood up for Counselor Kimberly whose only crime had been protecting a kid who needed protecting.
Where was the justice?! Why were our parents doing this to us? I had a suspicion about why my parents had sent me to this camp. If they'd listened to my side of the story instead of believing the school bully, I probably wouldn't be here. My parents had to of known this place would be a punishment for me. But I wasn't the one who needed a more "positive" outlook on life! He was!
I kicked a pebble in my path and watched in satisfaction as it sped off down the path a good distance. Where was the justice though? My mind continued to press. And why were so many kids at such a terrible camp? Were parents dumb enough to think this was fun for us?
No, they were selfish. They probably all heard of this super positive camp and thought sending their kid there would make them look good and as a bonus, they got to have some free time. They probably didn't even care if the camp had a positive impact on their kid or not. They probably hoped it did, but that was about it!
What a bunch of selfish jerks! I kicked another rock and sent it tumbling down the path. -Sarah Maree
“Are you quite done?” Mr. Petrel asked as another pebble skipped ahead. He stopped and frowned down at me, which only made my mood worse.
“How much farther is it?” I asked a bit sullenly.
Mr. Petrel's hand passed in front of my face as he pointed. “We're here.”
I looked at where he was pointing, and sure enough, there was a building down a short path, one I hadn't noticed before. And it was behind the Dining Hall. At least that meant I wouldn't have to walk too far for food later.
Mr. Petrel took the lead and unlocked the office door. Then the door was open, the lights on, and we were inside one of the plainest office I'd ever been in. No photos, a desk with only a laptop, a lamp, a pen, and a pad of paper on it. In the two far corners loomed two large filing cabinets. As for chairs, there was a row of five uncomfortable ones near the door, and a slightly less uncomfortable chair behind the desk.
There was a window next to the door we had come in from and a closed door on the other side of the room, no doubt leading to more dreary offices. The office wasn't just bare though, it was...pristine. Everything looked new, even the cushionless chairs.
“You may select a seat and join me at the desk,” Mr. Petrel stated as he sat in the chair behind the desk.
I thought about leaving the chairs right where they were and forcing him to talk to me across the room, but somehow I doubted the move would have any effect. So I grabbed a chair and slid it across the wood floor so I could sit closer.
“Pick it up,” Mr. Petrel said through gritted teeth as the chair scraped the wood flooring. I hadn't intended to annoy him that way, but I was pleased nonetheless.
Mr. Petrel sighed as I sat down. “Do you know why you are here? Why any of the campers are here?”
“Campers are here to obtain a more positive outlook on life,” I said, spouting one of the camp’s idiotic slogans. One which had no doubt been in the stupid camp video I'd been forced to watch.
“You're partially correct, yes.” He tapped his fingers annoyingly on the desk for several long seconds. “There's more to it than that...” he paused and his tapping fingers filled the silence once more. Then he sighed and continued, this time looking out the window rather than at me. “There are two types of children who are sent to us. The bullies,” he said, his eyes turning away from the window to look at me, “and the bullied.” He looked back out the window as he finished speaking. It was clear enough which category he felt I belonged to. Not that I cared. I'd already had my suspicions on why my parents had sent me to camp. Now that they were confirmed, that hardly changed anything.
“Does that change anything for you?” Mr. Petrel's finger tapped as he waited for an answer. “Hmm, silence here usually means only one thing. Suppose I put it like this: your behavior is that of a bully and while you may see it differently, you should be more sensitive. This is supposed to be a safe place, a place for the bullied and the bullies to find a more positive outlook on life. How do you think my counselors feel when you bully them?” Tap, tap, tap... “What about your fellow campers when they see you trying to get others into trouble?” Tap, tap, tap... “Do you think they feel safe?” Tap, tap, tap... “What do you think you are accomplishing with your behavior?” Tap, tap, tap...
I tried to remember what the last question had been, but all I could focus on was the annoying tapping of his fingers. And who was he to lecture me on people feeling safe?! Had Counselor Kimberly felt safe?! Had any of the campers felt safe when he and Teacher had shown up?!
I kept my head down and my eyes on the floor, just like I had in the principal's office a month before. Adults didn't listen to kids. I'd learned that then. It didn't matter if I had broken a rule to protect someone, they only ever cared about the rules. I'd learned that then, too.
“I see things are slow to sink in for you. Then let me put it to you this way. Continue down the path you have chosen, and you will remain with us for the rest of the week.”
“What?!” My eyes shot up as I desperately sought some sign that the leader of this retched camp was lying. He had to be lying! There was no way I could stay here a whole week! “Camp only lasts three days!” I argued.
“How long camp lasts is up to the individual,” Mr. Petrel's said evenly. “And before you argue any further, all parents are aware that camp could last longer for their child.” Tap, tap, tap... “Good behavior is rewarded, Daniel. You would do well to remember that.”
The door opened then, cutting through the tension. In walked a beaming Kevin, a cone of soft-serve ice cream in hand. He was followed closely by Teacher, who looked as diabolical as ever - stone faced, cold dead eyes, and his hands clasped behind his back.
But that ice cream cone...where'd Kevin get it?! My stomach growled. All thoughts of bullies and punishment disappeared with the appearance of Kevin and his ice cream cone.
Mr. Petrel sighed and shook his head at the sudden interruption.
“I'm going home!” Kevin declared happily to me. He looked happy too. He had to be the luckiest kid in camp. Or was he the unluckiest?
Something else Mr. Petrel had said began to sink in. The camp was made up of two kinds of kids: the bullies and the bullied. So what did that make Kevin? Did he have friends on the outside? Had this been his chance at finding a way to deal with the bullies in the outside world? A way to live a more positive life?
“Hmm, it seems something has sunk in after all.”
My eyes darted from Kevin back to Mr. Petrel. He was watching me, his elbows on the desk and his chin in his hands.
“I believe Daniel has learned his lesson after all. Teacher, if you could escort him to the Dining Hall.”
I stood woodenly. My head felt fuzzy and I felt like I'd been betrayed...somehow. The last thing I saw was Kevin happily eating his ice cream as he waited for his parents and the freedom of the outside world. I couldn't help but question what I was doing, what Wendy was doing, and more importantly, what the counselors were doing to us.