Here it is, Chapter 2 of Positivity Camp!
“Alright, Campers! If this is your first time to Positivity Camp, please raise your hand! That’s right, raise ‘em up!”
Despite being new to the camp, I did not raise my hand. Mr. Chipper, as I decided to call him, already had me dreading the camp more than I already had been. I hated the idea that there was a chance to be a return camper.
“Two, four, six, eight…ten!”
There were only twelve of us, I noted with some dismay. I tried finding the other person who hadn’t raised their hand, but everyone’s hands dropped as the guy continued talking.
“We have ten newcomers. Welcome!”
I gritted my teeth as he clapped enthusiastically for a moment. It was way too early for this kind of upbeat attitude.
“Now, before we get started, are there any questions?” Mr. Chipper looked around excitedly. He started talking before anyone bothered raising their hands again.
“Wonderful! Now, let me go over the camp rules. It’s been a busy morning, and I want to make sure you are prepared. As you may have seen upon entering camp, there is only one rule here. Just stay positive by saying only positive words. Super easy, right?”
“Wait, we can’t say any of the words on the board outside?” someone asked.
“Ah! And you’ve just said one.”
I tried figuring out which word had been negative. It took me a moment, but I decided it had to be can’t. At that moment, I decided that keeping my mouth shut would be better than risk saying a negative word.
“We will let it go for now,” Counselor Chipper continued without giving any explanation. “But your second use of a forbidden word means watching the positivity video. Really, we can talk about consequences later! For now, just keep saying positive things and staying positive!”
His face looked inhuman with the wide grin he somehow managed to maintain.
“Now that we’re done with that, let’s work on our team building. Who’s ready to start having fun and learning how to be more positive?”
Just three days of this, I repeated the litany over and over to myself.
The counselor went to a bin that rested against the big tree we were all clustered in front of. He rummaged inside it for a bit before he came back over to us. He was still smiling that creepily happy smile.
“Let’s start with the name game! That way we can get to know each other’s names before we do any of the other activities. I’ll go first.” He held out a little bean bag ball that he’d taken from the bin. “See this? If the ball is tossed to you, say your name and a way to remember it. Like this.” He proceeded to toss the ball up in the air and catch it.
“Hi, Campers!” he called out annoyingly. “My name is Dave. I am a Camp Counselor here at Positivity Camp. The D in my name stands for daring. The A is for adventure. V is for victorious, and E is for exiting! With my adventurous spirit, I feel like exploring the deep blue sea and looking for Davy Jones and his locker. Get it? Dave, Davy? Ah, you’ll get the hang of it here in a minute! Alright, now who to pick next?”
Of course, he picked me first. I somehow managed to catch the dumb ball. I chuckled as I realized it wasn’t a ball with beans in it but was actually a stress ball. How fitting.
“Do I have to do this?” I stalled as a devious plan formed in my mind.
“Yes, Camper, you have to do this. Now tell us your name. We’ll help you from there!”
I sighed, thought about it for a moment longer, and decided a video would be better than the name game. I stood up, the stress ball still in hand.
“Hi, my name is Daniel. D is for disturbed. A is for annoyed.” I smiled as I spoke the next line but only because that creepily perpetual smile had disappeared from Dave’s face. “N is for naughty.” I saw his face turn pale, but I kept right on going. “I is for indifferent. E is for embattled.” I heard someone let out an appreciative “ooh” for that one. “And L is for loathe,” I stopped as I forgot who to make my name relate to.
Face burning red, Counselor Dave finally snapped. “To the nurse’s office, young man! And be silent on your way there!”
His shrill voice grated on my nerves as he shouted the commands. I casually tossed the ball down to the girl next to me. She caught it and stood as I passed, startling me into stopping.
“Can I go with him?”
“It’s may I,” the man corrected waspishly.
“Oh? Well then, Mr. Dave. If that’s going to be your attitude. Fine. D is for defective, A is for abhorrent, V is for vile, and E is for egregious! And my name is Wendy. W for wicked, E for execrable, N for negativity, D for deplorable, and Y for ya-hoo!”
I’m pretty sure everyone’s jaw dropped as Wendy spoke. I had been lucky enough to watch Dave as she did so. His lips never stopped moving as Wendy rattled off the terrible words. No words formed long enough for him to sputter them out. I could tell some of the words she had used had to have been up on the boards posted outside the camp walls, but the way Wendy wielded them was like watching a master at work! Still, the last one gave everyone pause, including Dave who had been on the verge of recovery. Then again, maybe not.
“What?” Wendy asked, surprised by the confused looks. “Ya-hoo is more than a search engine. Honestly, people! They’re a race of brutish, degraded creatures in some guy’s book. Look the word up.”
Yup, she broke Dave.
“Both of you! To the Psychiatrist!”
“The what?” Wendy and I said at the same time. I smiled, but quickly bit my lip to hide my amusement.
“THE NURSE!” he shouted at us. “Now,” he ordered more calmly but still with a hint of anger. He then pointed at a worn dirt path off to the left of our group.
I didn’t wait for him to call us back; I ran for the path to the nurse’s office, or was she a psychiatrist? Luckily, I had seen the Nurse’s Station earlier, though, that was likely because it happened to be pressed against the entrance where all the forbidden words were posted. I didn’t have to look back to know that Wendy had followed after me. When we were out of earshot, I couldn’t help but congratulate her on her awesome use of negative words.
“Oh, you shouldn’t give me all that much credit. Ha! Shouldn’t. Anyway, I had my phone and was looking for something for my name. That’s how I knew about the ya-hoo people.”
“You still have your ph-” I began to ask as I recalled our counselor forcing us to give ours up.
She shushed me and we both looked around nervously. Then she nodded and shot me a wink. A few minutes passed before we felt confident enough to talk again.
"That’s still awesome,” I said, keeping my voice low.
“Do you know where we’re going?” Wendy asked as she looked around at the unfamiliar territory.
“Sort of. I think I see the flag from this morning to the left there. From there I think you can see the Nurse’s Station. I know it’s near the entrance and the signs.”
“Do you think they’ll add any of those things to the boards out there?” She grinned impishly as we walked.
“I hope so!”
“You know,” she said slowly, “I bet this camp could be pretty fun.”
“You can’t be serious.” I shot her a concerned look for suggesting such an absurdity.
“I am! I mean, can you imagine if we did that every time they talked to us?”
“What? Said a forbidden word? I have a feeling we’re going to regret it with that psychiatrist. And the video,” I added, suddenly regretting not thinking ahead to that no doubt painful experience.
“No, not that.” She bumped my shoulder playfully. “We follow the rules from here on out,” she suggested with a wink.
“Not sure I’m following.” I looked at her suspiciously.
“Trust me,” she said with a wink.
There was no time for further conversation as we had reached another group playing the name game. We were silent after that as we didn’t want to draw unwanted attention. By the time we passed several other groups, we had reached the Nurse’s Station.