It was our first day of summer vacation and that meant our first day at summer camp. Clyde and I had never spent a whole summer away from home before, but now that we we're seventeen, we decided it was time we gave it a shot. We were lucky to be joined by Ronnie Anne and a bunch of our other friends from Royal Woods. As we road on the bus to camp, we couldn't help but feel excited.
"Can you believe it, Clyde?" I asked. "Our first summer away from home!"
"I know. I had to practically beg my dads to let me spend the whole summer at camp," he said. "I'm both excited and kinda terrified. But mostly excited."
"What are you so terrified of?"
"Oh you know. Living out in the woods, getting stung by hornets, drowning in a river, getting mauled by a bear, contracting a deadly disease, catching hypothermia, getting bitten by a venomous snake, getting food poisoning from eating food made by an unwashed prison inmate…!"
"Clyde! You're spiraling!" I said, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Just calm down and breathe. Okay?"
After he had calmed himself down, I put my arm around his shoulder. "None of that's gonna happen, man. You know why? Because I'm gonna right by your side the whole time and we've got all summer to go on adventures and make new friends."
"What are you talking about? We already know everybody here."
"Yeah, but maybe there'll be another camp nearby where we can meet new people. And who knows? If we play our cards right, maybe this'll be the summer we finally get girlfriends."
"Tch! Don't hold your breath, lame-o," said Ronnie Anne, who was sitting across from us.
"Oh, like you're one to talk," I retorted. "When was the last time you kissed a guy?"
"At least I could get a date if I really wanted."
"Yeah, well, I still think we have a pretty good shot. Just you wait, Clyde. This is gonna be our greatest summer ever."
When the bus arrived at the camp, there was a gate with a sign up above that read Camp Gottapee. Clyde, Ronnie Anne and I all looked at each other, wondering if that was some kind of Native American word. If it was, it was still hilarious. The bus stopped in the center of a dirt clearing. When we all climbed off, we were greeted by two camp counselors. One was a tall man with dark skin and a big sparkly smile. The other was a chubby light-skinned woman with her hair in a ponytail. Both of them were holding clipboards and waiting for us all to file out.
"Welcome to Camp Gottapee, everybody!" the man greeted us. "My name's Jackson, but everybody calls me Action." He paused to chuckle at a joke that nobody seemed to be laughing at. "And this is Erica," he said pointing to the lady next to him. "We'll be your camp counselors for the rest of the summer. If you guys have any problems or you ever need anything, just come find one of us."
"First thing we're gonna do is show you guys to your cabins," said Erica. "You'll have five minutes to put away your stuff and meet back at the campfire pit. Girls follow me to the right cabin, boys follow Action to the left."
Clyde and I went to follow Action and the rest of the guys to the boys' cabin. Just then, though, I heard something drop behind me. I turned to look and on the ground was an Ace Savvy PEZ dispenser. I picked it up and tried to find out who had dropped it, but as I looked around at everybody, I realized I had no idea who it could be. I knew just about everybody here and as far as I knew, Clyde and I were the only ones here who were into Ace Savvy. I knew for a fact it wasn't Clyde's because if it was, he would've written 'Property of Clyde McBride' on it. I decided to hold onto it until I could find out whose it was. I ran to catch up to the rest of the group.
The cabin was pretty much what I was expecting. Rustic with rows of mattresses on metal-framed beds and little wooden nightstands in between. There was a bathroom on the far end and rows of three windows lined up perfectly on each side. Aside from me and Clyde, there was also Liam, Zach, Rusty, Lance, Trent and Chandler. We each picked a bed to sleep in and left our bags on top of them. Then we met the girls back at the fire pit.
Clyde, Ronnie Anne and I sat in the back row while the counselors listed off the rules. I tried to pay attention, but then I noticed that the girl sitting next to me was wearing an Ace Savvy t-shirt. She was pretty cute, too, with her brown hair tied back with a red scrunchy, freckles covering her cheeks and sparkling pearl earrings. There was something familiar about this girl. I could've sworn I'd seen her before, but I couldn't remember her name. I decided to introduce myself.
"Excuse me," I said. She turned to look at me. "I just wanted to say I like your shirt."
"Oh, thank you," she said with a little smile. "Yeah, I really love Ace Savvy. I know that's kinda dorky."
"I don't think it's dorky at all. In fact, I think I found something that belongs to you." I showed her the PEZ dispenser and her face lit up.
"Oh my god! Thank you! I got so worried when I couldn't find it. I thought I'd left it on the bus or something. I'm so glad you found it."
"No problem. One should never be separated from their beloved PEZ dispenser."
She laughed. I'd managed to make her laugh! That was a good sign. "I'm Lincoln," I said.
And that's when it hit me. I knew I'd seen her before. "I think we've actually met before. I think it was when we were eleven. We were in the comic book store at the mall and we started talking about Ace. And then I found a copy of that limited edition Christmas issue, we fought over it and you socked me in the face."
She gasped. "Oh yeah! I do remember that! Wow, I don't know what got into me," she said with a chuckle.
"It's okay. I don't blame you. I probably would've done the same thing. If you were a boy, I mean." We both laughed at that one. I was two for two right now. This was going so great!
Then the counselors called out for us to follow them, so we got up and let them lead us around the camp. Renee started to walk ahead of me, but then she turned around and smiled back at me again. I was so happy, I felt like I could explode. Was this really happing? Did she like me? I had to catch up to her. "Hey wait!" I called as I ran up next to her. "Would you, maybe… wanna hang out together sometime?"
"Sure. I'd love to." My heart totally did a backflip at that moment. She pulled a little notebook out of her pocket, wrote something down in it, ripped out the page and gave it to me. "Here's my number. Text me, okay?" If I wasn't smiling like an idiot before, I was definitely doing it now.
Action and Erica lead us on a tour of the camp. They showed us the outdoor bathrooms, the mess hall, the main office, the infirmary, the showers (one for boys and one for girls). The camp even had a watchtower, which was pretty cool. They took us down by the lake where there was a dock and a stack of canoes with oars.
"So Lincoln, who was that girl you were talking to?" Clyde asked.
"Her name's Renee," I said. "I found her PEZ dispenser and gave it back to her. She loves Ace Savvy and… I think she likes me."
"Hey hey, way to go, stud!" He wrapped his arm around me and gave me a light punch on the shoulder. "First day of camp and you're already getting lucky."