Chapter 1: Camp

I opened my eyes. I was in some sort of toy room that preschoolers would use for fun. I looked around. Then, I saw something. I looked closely at it. It turned out to be a video game. It was what I had asked for my whole life. I walked towards it slowly. Odd, it seemed. The video game I wanted forever was sitting on a bookshelf. I reached for it and grabbed it. Suddenly, an alarm went off. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

“What is it?” I heard a preschooler ask.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, child.” said a lady. “I’ll go check on it!” She busted down the door with a rake in her hand. I was nervous. The janitor busted through another door with a mop.

“Shame on you!” yelled the lady. “Stealing toys from little kids, you rotten thief! Attack!” Preschoolers swarmed into the room like bees. Then they charged at me. Let me tell you, it was not easy. I was in seventh grade, but there were about three hundred of them punching and kicking me. I felt like I was going to die. That woman was the criminal.

“That’s fifteen years in jail for you!” she said angrily. Then, I heard something. I couldn’t quite make it out. Then I heard music. It was this terrible song called “Chair.” I closed my eyes. Then opened them again. I was in my bed and my alarm clock was flashing 8:30.

“Okay!” I yelled. “Who messed with my alarm clock?!”

My older brother David entered the room. “You better get up or you’ll be late for school again, Jake.”

I grumbled. Of course it was him. it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. There was one advantage, though. Today was the last day of school. I, however, was scared because we were getting our report cards back today. It was not the most fun thing in the world, or at least for some people.

Dad drove me to school. “Jake,” he said, “what are you planning to do this summer?”

“I’m making a list of thing I want to do. It’s not complete yet, but here’s the incomplete version: rock climbing, sky diving, jaywalking, bungee jumping, video game playing, food eating, soda drinking, more video game playing, swimming, shark taming, daring, rocket shooting, –”

“Or,” interrupted Dad, “you could go to camp.”

“Fire breathing,” I continued, “giant slaying, kidnapping, drunk driving, evil plotting, ninja slicing, window breaking, jaw slinging, decorating, ball playing, water fighting, vandalizing, computer hacking,–

“No.” said Dad. “I’m serious. I went to a camp called Camp Zelo. It’s named after Erik Zelo, the discoverer of the land. It’s been in their family for generations. It’s full of adventure and discovery and the family really liked me. I was one of the best campers and…you’re not even listening.”

“Modeling,” I said. “ Dabbling, more video game playing, garden destroying, rock throwing, door slamming, soccer playing, and that’s it. Happy?” I got out of the car and went to school. I got my report card sixth period. My grades were not bad, but they weren’t the highest in the class. My highest score was a 92% and my lowest was an 81%. There was this one girl who was really smart and got 100% in every subject. During lunch, I talked to my best friend Toko.

“What are you doing this summer?” asked Toko. “I’m going to a camp called Camp Zelo. I’ve been going there for about five years now.”

“No, wait, really?”

“Yeah. Five years. It’s really fun.”

“Well,” I said. “my list is quite long and I haven’t yet finished it.” My day didn’t get any better after I went home. Dad signed me up for camp.

“Hey, sport.” said Dad. He sounded extra cheerful. Anytime my dad sounded cheerful, you knew he was planning something. “You excited for camp on Monday?” I froze. He signed me up for camp.

“Yeah.” said my dad. “I signed you up for Camp Zelo.” My whole summer was ruined. This meant that on Monday, I had to go to some stupid camp. No jaywalking. No skydiving. No vandalizing.

“You what!?” I almost yelled.

“It’s fine,” Dad said. “You know, I’ll go with you. We’ll have a great time. Go hiking, roast some marshmallows, tell scary stories, play games, swim, climb trees…”

Hiking, swimming? What about jaywalking and giant slaying? What about fire breathing, what about skydiving? I was ready to throw Dad’s computer out the window.

“You sent Jake to camp?” asked my mom. “Why? Why would you do that? Jake just wants to stay home and hang out with his friends and play video games. Why can’t you just let him enjoy his summer?”

“Because,” said my dad. He always, always answered a question with a ‘because’ and said something that would start a fight. “He needs to learn responsibility. When he comes home, he’ll be a man. He’ll know how to tie knots, swim, pitch up tents, and survive in the wilderness. Plus, I’ll go with him. It’ll just be us, and the rest of the camp on an adventure. No TV, no video games.”

I went outside to enjoy two days of summer before going to that awful camp.

Chapter 2: Zelo Time


Believe it or not, Dad actually won that argument and convinced my mom to send me to this dumb place. We drove to camp on Monday morning with a whole bunch of lame camping stuff. It took a whole hour to get there. My dad had his stupid radio on the whole time.

“You know, son, Christopher Zelo was my best friend every single summer. His dad was the leader of the camp, and now it’s being passed down to him. How awesome is that?”

“Whatever.” I sighed, looking out the window. My dad was not like the others– he was a bit embarrassing to be around. Suddenly, I passed what I thought was the campground.

“ Dad?” I asked. “Is that the campground? It’s so awesome! It has a beach, and a free snack bar, and a dinner spot, and a recliner, and an entire lake. Wow.”

“Of course not.” said Dad. “Where you’re going is way better. That’s Camp Awesomeness. The lame camp.” We finally arrived at camp.

We first unpacked and then went to our camp spot. I was in the older group because I was in eighth grade. Dad took me to my camp director and got me to my group.

“Hey, Will.” said Christopher. “How’s the family? It’s good to see you again. You wanna sign up your son?” I immediately knew that they really had a lot in common. Dad spent fifteen minutes chatting up with him before they got serious again. Then, they spent another fifteen minutes doing form stuff.

“Spot 7,” said Christopher.  We walked all the way over there. It took ten minutes. After that, we set up our tent. It took twenty minutes to set up the tent, and then we met each other.

“Hey.” said a guy. “Can you pass me that wrench?” I saw a toolbox next to my foot.

“Sure.” I said. “But why do you need a wrench?” I gave him the wrench. The kid looked up.

“Hey,” he said. “I’ve never seen you here before. Are you new here?” I saw he was using the wrench to tighten a bolt.

“Uh, yeah.” I said nervously. “I’ve never been to this place before and my dad said this was Camp Zelo.”

“Well, you’re right about that.” he said. “My name is Gale Zelo. My dad’s the camp  director. Let me introduce you to the gang. Apparently, I’m their leader. No counselors, just us. So, over there is Jack, Tom and Pom are right over here, and there’s Steeler, Josh, Kate, Larry, that’s Girl, Gabby, Zipline, Yoko, Hags, and over there is Millie. I think she likes me.”

“Okay, okay.” I said. “I’m Jake, and that’s my dad over there. Your dad obviously knows him. So what do we do here?

“Sadly, my dad says that we don’t have enough money to do all that stuff we did last year.” Gale said. “Last year, we entered something called the Campetition. We haven’t actually qualified for a spot in the Campetition this year, but it was one heck of a ride.”

“Okaaaayyyy…” I said slowly. “I’m going to find my dad now because I didn’t even have breakfast yet.”

I walked over to my tent and found my dad.

“Dad?” I asked. “Can I have my breakfast now?”

“Uh…” mumbled Dad.

“You ate my breakfast!?” I shot.

“Sorry.” said Dad. “Mom ate my breakfast this morning. I was hungry. I had to eat something.” I knew this was not true because there were two bags sticking out of the bag with both of our eaten breakfasts in there.

“You’re lame,” I said. “Now can I have my 3DS?”

“Sorry,” said Dad. “Christopher took it because he has a strict rule about electronics on campgrounds. So he’ll be keeping it for the rest of the summer.” This was not going to be fun.

Of course, it wasn’t. Camp today was awful for the first half of the day. We went hiking, ziplining…all that lame stuff. Until lunch, I didn’t have a bite to eat. Without my 3DS, my life was completely over. So I decided to sneak into the main house and take it back. The problem was, I didn’t have one clue where it was. I searched for fifteen minutes and then I saw it. The Main House was atop a few steps. I walked up them and opened the door. Luckily, nobody noticed me. They were busy discussing this lame problem.

“Apparently, we owe about $100,000 in debt to some lame studying camp where all you do is math and boring stuff.” said Christopher. “It says that if we don’t pay by the end of the summer, they will take our camp away!” I saw my 3DS next to the camp director. I really hated that guy.

“What is going on here?” asked his wife. “They don’t own us!” I suddenly came up with a brilliant plan.

“Apparently, they do,” said Christopher. I burst in.

“Hey,” I said. “Where is the bathroom? I really have to go.” They were quick to answer that one because they probably knew I was here for another reason.

“Uh, there’s a Porta-Potty near every group site,” said another counselor. “Now scram, kid!” I quickly fled the scene, scared and with anger of failing. I could still hear what they were saying about their stupid debt.

“How do we pull a $100,000 move off this time, Chrisie?” said Gale. “Let me guess, we can enter the Campetition again. The first match starts this Friday night. If you can sign us up tonight, we’re all set to go.”

I did not like that idea. I heard that we lost the first match every single time. I returned to lunch with the bad news.

“Bad news, guys,” I said. “We’re entering this Campetition thing. Also, I failed to get my 3DS back.” Everyone cheered.


Chapter 3: A Spark of Luck


To make a long story short, Christopher Zelo signed us up for the Campetiton. We lacked skill, preparation,  and many other things. We were playing a pretty decent camp in a relay race. It was a long one too.

“Okay.” said Gale. “I’ll go last. Who wants to go first?”

“I will.” said Yoko. “It’s not a bad start-off, is it?”

“Okay,” said the Ref. “First competitors to the starting line. 3, 2, 1, GO!” Yoko and the other first competitor dashed along the obstacle course. I had to admit, I was pretty impressed with how he was handling all of this. He had dodged every single hurdle and started taking the lead. He slid under a few hurdles and grabbed hold of a rope vine hanging over a giant mud puddle. After reaching the halfway point, he turned around and made it back seconds before the other person. He tagged Zipline’s hand and he ran. Now, these guys were very average, no offense, but before I knew it, it was my turn. I was the second to last one, but they were already on their last. Hags tagged my hand and I was off!

“Okay.” I said. “This is it!” Suddenly, I hit a hurdle and fell down. The last guy zipped past me.

“Get up!” said Christopher. I slowly used the hurdle to stand. After that, I wasn’t very fast with the hurdles. I was cautious but inept with fear. Then came the mud rope. I stopped to get a good jump. Then I tried to grab the rope, but missed and fell in the mud. It was quick mud to be exact. I tried to get out.

“Come on!” yelled Gabby. “Don’t you have the strength to get out of mud?”

“No,” I said. “I can’t even do a pull up.” But I was able to save myself from possible death! I grabbed onto a rock sticking out of the ground and hauled myself up. It took every single ounce of muscle to do that. I crawled out of the quick mud and somehow stood up. It was  painful. I was able to trudge on, and crawled under a few hurdles and found my way to the halfway point. The problem was that the other guy was very close to home. I turned around and got up. I took five seconds to heal and then crawled under the hurdles again. This time, I actually managed to grab the rope dangling over the mud. I tried to swing back and forth, but it was useless. I jumped off of the rope and hit solid ground. I picked myself up and ran, only to hit a hurdle. Then, I heard cheering.

“Camp Awesome wins!” said the announcer. “This means that they get to go to the second round!” With sadness, I crawled back to the starting line.

“Did we win?” I asked sarcastically.

“Attention, all audiences!” said the announcer. “There have been some changes to the score! Camp Awesome has been disqualified. They were caught shooting rocks at Camp Zelo.”

Everyone but me cheered. I was bruised. We may have gotten off easily this time, but it will never happen again. Luck is never something that you can count on for long.


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