I fully anticipated that a group of kids would be the culprit of the noise moving down the hall. When I opened the door, however, there were three or four guys—camp counselors—clapping and hollering. One of them was banging a pan with a spatula, and they were chanting:
I didn’t get no sleep ‘cause of y’all, Y’all ain’t gonna sleep ‘cause of me! (Wake up Y’all!)
It was a lively tune, and in and of itself, the event entertained me immensely. I slowly pushed the door close as they continued to oppress the hall, and then went on to the fourth and final floor. Jacob was sitting up by now, and said only one word.
I don’t remember all of them, but if I recall right, among them were Jack Smith, another guy named Zack Harvey, and Eli Smith. (I later found that Eli was no relation to Jack). And in front of all of these, walking backward and recording with his phone, was Josiah.
Later that morning, when we all went to breakfast, I sat down at an empty table so that I could read my Bible. Before long, however, one of the female counselors named Kylie sat down across from me and started a conversation.
As we talked—she talked mostly, but I enjoyed the conversation all the same—we got to the subject of the events of that morning. It amused Kylie as much as it did me. She informed me that she had overheard some of the guys planning this the night before. Apparently, the girls did not experience the same disturbance.
After telling me these things and showing me the video taken by Josiah, Kylie asked me what the guys planned to do about it. Intrigued, I asked whether we were actually allowed to do anything, because a few of the guys had mentioned wanting to inflict some sort of payback. Kylie simply said that we couldn’t hurt anyone or destroy anything, and that this wouldn’t be the first Summer Institute to see such an event.
This was all I needed to hear. By the end of the day, I had rallied the people who wanted to repay the kindness of the counselors, and we delivered a written declaration of our displeasure to Eli Smith, who became the spokesperson for the counselors. And that night, while everyone else was enjoying music, snow cones, and cotton candy in the courtyard, the lights could be seen going dark on the third floor of the boys’ dorm as two shadowy figures worked swiftly in its dark halls. Minutes later, the duo emerged and rejoined the party, with no one being the wiser.
Before I tell the result of this night operation, I must introduce you to a new friend.
Sometime the night before, I accompanied my somewhat frisky roommate to the doors of the building where the cafeteria was located, preparing to have dinner in about ten minutes. I stopped before entering, however, as Jacob moved on with another group, because a rather distressed-looking boy was sitting on the wall, and he asked me to wait and join him.
I had seen him multiple times, and he stood out as the only one—or at least the most obvious one—at that camp who had a girlfriend also at camp. But we had never actually spoken, so as I sat down with him, he first asked me my name. His name was Isak.
He didnt appear to want to talk about anything in particular, but after everyone was gone, he told me why he was so disturbed. Apparently, he had heard a lot about me from the people I spent time with, and they had told him that I was a good source of practical advice and solutions.
How they got this impression, I shall never know, because Isak was the first person to ask me for advice at all. But I did have a solution for Isak’s rather complex dilemma, and he was extremely grateful. After that moment, the two of us were virtually inseparable, and Isak spent a lot of time talking to me and learning about me. By the end of that week, I had worn out my supply of things that I was willing to share with him, and he reiterated his gratitude for the load that I had apparently taken off of his mind.
The next evening, Thursday, as everyone returned to their dorms from the party in the courtyard, Eli Smith opened his door and found a cup of water falling across his path.
A brief inquiry was launched, but was hardly necessary. Our group was not at all reluctant to claim responsibility for the trap, and I soon came to terms with Eli on what would be our rules of engagement: don’t hurt people, don’t hurt property. And around these rules, the next day revolved, defining itself as the start of a conflict which goes on to this very day.
Before we end this tale, I must tell you how most of that week was spent. Each student had a choice of their academic track, which was the class that they took that week. There were choices like martial arts, nursing, engineering, photography, and criminal justice. But my roommate, Jacob, and I chose creative writing. And when we found ourselves the only guys in a group of ten girls, we were extremely grateful for one another’s presence.
We learned a magnitude of different concepts that week, and as Dr. Gleason presented them, he always related them back to a principle found in the Genesis account of creation. He would then dive into the concept. But the main benefit of this class was not so much the principles, but the think tank of writers that it created among us. By the end of the week, we had all gained some inspiration to either overcome a writer’s block or begin new works.
The final day, Saturday, was a bittersweet experience. Many of the students went white-water rafting, and those who stayed behind hung out in the game room with pool, ping-pong, air hockey, and arcade games. I used this time to play pool—which I had just learned over the course of this week—and to spend with a new friend, Josiah.
But as the rafting group began to return, and later as our parents began to arrive, I was repeatedly approached by people saying goodbye. This made that day one of the saddest I had experienced in quite some time. On top of this, my lack of sleep was beginning to remind me of its presence. But camp withdrawals soon faded away into the inspiration and hope that I found with the potential of a future at Bryan College, and with the joy that overwhelmed me as friends continued to reach out to me long afterward.
By the way, the lie was the second one: that I had written a published film script. While I did write the documentary, America 245: A Narrative, it is not a published script.
Yes, I have been on an airplane, and no, I have never flown anywhere.