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Camp Wonder — Chapter 1

Scott looked at the dust motes streaming in the sunshine coming through the windows he was watching the scenery through. He pushed aside a lock of his blonde hair to get a better look as the small bus they were riding in turned off the barely paved road. The seat shook a bit as they were now on a completely rutted dirt path. His younger sister Zoe had mentioned that the camp was in the middle of nowhere, and the training he’d had earlier in the summer had mentioned that as well. Still, he was surprised to see just how remote it really was.

He pulled his cell phone up from its holster, and noticed that there were now no bars. No phone calls, texts or even gaming for a week. He turned it off so that in an emergency it might still be of some use.

First he looked across the aisle to where Zoe was seated in her wheelchair, and it appeared to still be safely locked in place. Zoe was a year younger, with blonde hair like his, but brown eyes like his older sister Becca. Scott had been a bit concerned about how the bumpy road might affect the attachments, but none of them seemed to be loose. A couple strands of Zoe’s hair were dancing in the breeze, but most of it was still properly tied down in a long pigtail. He thought it looked like she was leaning forward a bit as if she wanted to will the bus to get there faster.

Looking toward the front of the small bus, Becca, the eldest sister, was twirling a strand of her shoulder-length hair alternately one way, and then the other. Scott could only imagine what she was thinking about. While he had agreed to be a counselor as a favor to Zoe, and as a cheap way to get out of the house for a week, Becca seemed more interested in being with her friend Cindy Turner. Scott also suspected she might be interested in the other male counselor that had trained with them — Keith Perkins. But so far Scott had been sensible enough not to bring it up.

The bus hit a particularly bad pothole, and Scott looked over to check on Zoe, only to see her turn to smile at him. Had she known that was there? Was it some kind of “rite of passage”? While she had a razor sharp mind, her nerve myelination problems meant she could walk a step or two at most, and couldn’t control her vocal cords enough to make more than a couple simple sounds. Fortunately she had become quite adept at sign language, and Scott and Becca had picked it up for her sake. That made them very useful as counselors at this summer camp for handicapped kids.

Even so, neither Scott nor Becca had gotten more than the basics down, and so most of the conversation about the camp with Zoe had been that she had a lot of fun. When she tried to explain why, it had kind of lost them. Zoe had been positively beaming when they told her they would be coming with her this year.

The bus began to slow, and Scott looked through the front window to see a wide gravel area with a path leading off into the woods.

“This must be the parking lot.” He said a bit louder than usual to Becca.

She nodded agreement, and the bus slowly came to a stop as it threw up a spray of gravel and dirt. Becca and Scott got out of the bus, and Scott went around back where the bus driver was helping Zoe move her chair into the lift. Meanwhile, Becca went to the other side of the bus to unload their backpacks and bags.

It didn’t take long to lower Zoe to the ground, and then Scott came around to help push the chair down the short ramp. He started to push the chair through the gravel, and realized that it was going to be harder than he thought.

A voice came from behind him. “Don’t worry; the parking lot’s the only gravel pit around here.”

Scott looked over his shoulder, surprised to see that somehow Cindy Turner had already managed to get up the trail without him noticing. She moved quickly around him to face Zoe, and then bent over as she made some signs that soon had Zoe laughing. The sun was making Zoe’s hair glow a bit in the sun, while Cindy’s red hair was falling forward almost like a halo around her face.

“What was that about?” Scott asked as Cindy stood up, and came back around to where Scott was holding the chair’s handles.

“Girl stuff.” Cindy replied with a grin. “Camp secret. Only on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know.”

Scott turned a bit red, and now it was Becca’s turn to have a quick laugh. Cindy shrugged, and then walked over to where Becca was standing next to their stuff. “Becca, why don’t I help you get these to your cabin, and Scott can take Zoe to the lodge to get her checked in.”

The girls quickly split the bags and backpacks between them, and were off before Scott could finish asking “But where is the lodge?”

Cindy had evidently heard him and called back over her shoulder, “Just follow the path. You’ll get there eventually.”

Scott pictured all sorts of ways that eventually could be a lot longer than he wanted to take, but then realized that Zoe could probably point the way if there were any forks or alternate paths. Leaning down a bit on the handles to give the chair a bit more leverage in the gravel, Scott soon had Zoe’s chair on the path, and began the hike to the lodge.

It didn’t take long before they left the hot, dusty parking area and followed the path into a lightly forested area. The path seemed well maintained, and thankfully without the ruts that would normally make pushing a chair in the wilderness dangerous to both the pusher and the rider. Scott picked up a slight aroma of pine, and found himself relaxing even though he was hard at work.

The trail got a bit steeper for a bit, and Scott found himself leaning back while he noticed Zoe was pushing a bit on the hand breaks to keep the chair from going too fast. He appreciated that she was trying to make it a little easier for him, but didn’t want to take his hands off the handles to sign a thank you.

As the trail flattened out again, Scott was able to enjoy the light streaming through the trees. He stopped for a moment, wondering where everyone else was, and Zoe looked up to see what was wrong.

“I thought there were a lot of other kids here?” he signed.

“There are, but we came in a bit late.” she signed back. “They are probably already at their cabins.”

Scott resumed pushing, and a few minutes later the trail climbed a small hill followed by a clearing with a long, low building in a bit of an arrowhead shape. The two long sides joined into a main area that was two stories tall at the front. “Pretty much what I figured it would look like.” Scott thought to himself.

They moved closer, and they came to a table with a number of packets of paper, with Cindy’s Mom — Becky Turner — behind it. Becky was a little shorter, and a little fuller figured than Cindy, but shared the same red hair and blue eyes. With Cindy that seemed to reflect a wild spirit waiting to get out, while Becky gave off more of an “Earth Mother” feel. As the Camp Administrator that was likely to be a useful trait.

“Oh there you are!” Becky said and signed at the same time. “I was beginning to wonder if the van had broken down.”

“No,” Scott explained, “the driver got a bit confused at the fork in the dirt road that led off to the General Store by the Dam.”

“I wonder…” Becky replied. “That’s the third trip he’s made up here this week. I wonder if there’s something at the store that has caught his fancy. Is Becca with you?”

“Cindy met us at the van, and the two of them were going to drop Zoe’s stuff off and then take our stuff to our cabin.”

Becky arched her eyebrows a bit at that, but didn’t say anything. “Well, Zoe’s paperwork is already filled out, so you can take her to her cabin. She has the same one as last year. Why don’t you wheel her over and see if Cindy got Zoe’s bags there okay. Once she’s settled in, you can come back here and I’ll introduce you to the other counselors.”

“OK…” Scott said tentatively “… umm… and where would that be?”

Becky laughed a bit “I forgot this is your first year Scott, even though Zoe was here last year.” She pointed past his right shoulder. “It’s the one just behind that grove of trees, Cabin 3-A.”

“Thanks.” Scott turned Savvy’s chair around, and began pushing her in the direction of the cabin Becky had pointed at.

As he was pushing her, Scott realized that even if Zoe’s bags were there, it would be difficult for her to unpack and get everything arranged by herself. “Are you going to be alright if I just drop you off at your cabin? Won’t you need me to help?”

Zoe didn’t even have to turn around, and signed above her head so Scott could see, “I’ll be fine. I’m sure one of the other counselors will be by in a bit, and I can do some things myself you know.”

“OK, you’re a big girl, and I’m just being the overprotective brother.”

“Besides, I won’t be alone in the cabin; my roommate will be there pretty soon if she’s not there already.” Zoe paused, and then continued signing. “I’m SURE you’ll like her.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Scott asked.

Zoe tilted her head back so Scott could see her grin as she signed “She used to be a cheerleader. Boys like cheerleaders don’t they?”

Scott felt his ears get warm, and was sure his face was flushing as well. “I think I need to tell Mom to start monitoring your TV watching a little more closely.”

Zoe turned back to half face Scott again so he could see her sticking her tongue out, and then as she faced back toward the front she let out a healthy laugh. Scott found himself joining in. It was so rare to actually hear Zoe, that it was hard not to.

“For someone who doesn’t talk much, your laugh always comes out so perfectly.” Scott added.

Without turning around, Zoe signed “That almost sounds like a complement.”

It didn’t take long to cover the rest of the way to Cabin 3-A, and Scott pushed Zoe’s chair up the ramp, then backed up on the porch so that he could get the door and lock it open. He was a little surprised not to see a screen door, but realized that two doors would be that much harder to navigate in a wheelchair.

As he pushed Zoe in, Scott thought he heard something rustling. Once they were in the living area he could see the open door to the bedrooms where Cindy Turner appeared to be unpacking Zoe’s suitcases. Scott closed the door, a bit louder than he needed to so she would know they were there.

Cindy noticed them, and as she continued to unpack called out. “Hey guys. Glad to see Scott was able to find the place. “

“Well, I did have a little navigational help.” Scott said.

Cindy put one more item into the chest of drawers that was between the two beds, and then walked out to where Scott and Zoe were.

“Why don’t I take Zoe from here,” Cindy suggested, “and you can get back to Mom for orientation.”

“Don’t you mean, Ms. Turner?” Scott kidded.

“Yes,” Cindy answered thoughtfully, “but with you guys I figure I can be a little more lax about it.”

“Hey, I was just kidding you know.” Scott wondered if that was a bit of a sore point, and then added “Anyway, Zoe mentioned that she wanted me to meet her cabin mate.”

Cindy looked over to Zoe, who quickly signed something that Scott didn’t catch. Cindy turned back to him. “In that case I’ll go back and help Becca. Zoe, you make sure to keep an eye on your brother.” Cindy followed this up by signing something to Zoe as she was leaving the cabin, and then the door was closed.

Scott wondered what was up. “Another camp secret?”

“Sort of.” Zoe signed.

“At this rate I’m going to spend the entire two weeks wondering what is really going on.” Scott warned her.

Zoe reached back to touch her brother’s arm, then signed “I think you’ll eventually catch on.”

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I really hope you enjoyed this chapter! If you did, do me a favor and give it a clap or leave me a comment. Thanks!

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Chapter 2 ->