Mr. Mike drove our bus into the Camp Linolock parking lot at 3:45 p.m. sharp.   I knew exactly what time it was because I had just checked my black Timex birthday watch.  It was hidden deep on the inside pocket of my carryon bag.  

“You don’t need to know what time it is at camp.” Mommy said last night while I finished packing my toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap.


“Mommy, please. I promise to take care of it!” I wanted to show off my birthday watch. 


“I said, No!” Mommy meant business.

But I thought she wouldn’t notice so I stuffed my black Timex birthday watch deep inside the bag anyway.

A smell like the Christmas trees we shopped for with Granddaddy last December and the Breath O’ Pine Grandmommy used to clean the bathroom last Saturday woke me up.   I rubbed my eyes, looked over my seat partner Diane who sat next to the window, and saw green grass and trees everywhere. She was slumped over and I gently elbowed her.

“Wake up, Diane. We’re here! You gotta see this!” I said.


“Stop! Leave me alone!” Diane murmured.


“Girl, we’re here, wake up!” I  repeated.


All over the bus I heard oohs and aahs, and saw stretched arms rise over the seats as the other campers woke up. Diane finally shifted in her seat and peeked out the window.  Everyone seemed happy that we finally made it.  Everyone seemed ready to jump off the bus and let the camping begin.  Everyone except the sour lemon sucking faced girl I saw when I first got on the bus.  She sat in the next row across the aisle from me.   Every time I looked at her, she rolled her eyes at me. She was the meanest, maddest looking girl I had ever seen. I didn’t know her name yet, but I planned to stay as far away from her as I possibly could.


HISSSSSS, Mr. Mike slowed down the bus and parked next to a small brown and white cabin with a green and white sign marked OFFICE/INFIRMARY.   He grasped the handle, opened the door, and climbed down the stairs of the bus.  After stepping on the dirt path, Mr. Mike stretched and walked to the side of the bus to open the gigantic trunk underneath.   


A cool breeze rushed into the bus and hung in the air.  The Christmas tree - Breath O’ Pine smell was so strong, I could almost taste it. Before we left Newark, the red mercury in the thermometer that hung over the visor near Mr. Mike’s rear view mirror reached 95 degrees.  The air was hot and sticky. But out here at Camp Linelock, at 3:45 in the afternoon, it’s so different.  The temperature had risen to 96 degrees but the air felt different. It was still hot but not sticky at all. 

On the left side of the road twenty small brown and white log cabins zig zagged up the hill.  The writing on the little green and white signs posted outside of each cabin was hard to see.  Each cabin’s walkway stretched up to a path that led up to a huge rectangular shaped brown and white cabin at the top of the hill.  A green and white sign marked MESS HALL was posted outside. 


Just then, a lady who looked like the boss of the camp hopped up the three big steps to get on the bus.  Her emerald green shorts and bright white blouse matched our uniforms. A big grey and black bullhorn like the one Mr. Jenkins used in gym class, hung around the boss lady’s neck. “Alright everybody, wake up, look lively! My name is Maggie, I am your troop leader for the next two weeks. Welcome to Camp Linelock!  When I call your name and number get off the bus, grab your bags from the trunk, and line up by the tree with your number.” Maggie’s voice boomed through the bullhorn.

Why was she shouting at us?  We didn’t do anything wrong yet? What’s her problem?  This Maggie was no joke.  I was not quite sure how to take her, but I knew I better follow Maggie’s instructions.   

When I heard my name, I gathered my things, slung my little black carryon bag across my shoulder, and rushed to the front of the bus.“Coco Jefferson”, Maggie shouted.  Oh brother. It was the sour lemon sucking faced girl. She must be in my group!  UGH!


“Group 1, get your things and line up next to the tree.  Hurry up, you have to unpack, wash up, and be ready for dinner at 5:00 o’clock sharp!” Maggie shouted again at me, Coco and the other two other girls in my group.  We all rushed off the bus to get our things from the trunk. We all rushed to get to the tree.  That is, all of us except Coco Jefferson.  She was taking her sweet time.


I skipped to the tree.  Yesssss, I’m first in line! From the sound of Maggie’s voice, I knew I didn’t want to get on her bad side.


“Where do you think you’re going?  I’m leading the group up to the cabin.”  Coco caught up with the rest of us. She was taller and chubbier than me.  Taller and chubbier than almost anybody I had seen on our bus. 


“Uh – um I was here first.” I said.


I know she’s not trying to push me out of the way! She may be tall, she may be chubby, but she doesn’t know me!


“So what, I’m here now, you better get behind me!” Coco sneered.


Trouble is not something I wanted.  Not on the first day!   I thought if I “trip” and “fall” in the dirt, Maggie would rush over, help me, and put me back at the front of the line.  Nah, I might really bust my lip or scrape my knees. Bad idea.


“Didn’t you hear me?” Coco repeated.  She narrowed her eyes like the tiny slits when the window blinds are almost shut and whispered.

“I said MOVE! "


Oh no, she’s not trying to scare me!  Who does she think she is?  My head felt like it was going to pop off and I was fired up.  I slid over a little bit to let Coco get in front of me and a sick feeling came over me.  A feeling like these two weeks are going to drag by.


As she brushed past me, Coco rolled her eyes so hard I thought they might slide behind her sockets. Straining as hard as I could, I rolled my eyes right back.

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