Holly gasped for breath, looking up at the broken floor she had just fallen through above her. Around her pooled the blood forcing its way out of the hole through which the rebar protruded. She felt her consciousness slipping as she managed a weak “h-help…” She coughed, spraying blood all over her own face. This…wasn’t supposed to happen…
THREE DAYS AGO…
The silence was deafening. Holly pushed all the air out of her lungs slowly, taking in the sight before her. She gulped then cleared her throat, gripping the small wooden podium in front of her tightly. Barely filling two rows of seats in the looming conference center of the campgrounds, the odd collection of people sitting in front of Holly shuffled uncomfortably in their seats, waiting for her to speak.
“Hello, and welcome to Camp High Ground,” she began tentatively. “My name, as you probably all know, is Holly Griffin. This camp is kind of my baby,” she chuckled, some of the tension in her voice leaving as she noticed a few other laughs from the people in front of her. “I started this project over a year ago, as a capstone of sorts for my business master’s degree. I was told that, for this camp, and my grade in the course, to be considered a success, I needed to have an initial campership of ten members, the last of which signed up to be a camper today, as a matter of fact. So, I would just like to thank you all personally for being willing to participate. Without you, there would be no Camp High Ground.”
She looked out over the small group of people in front of her as she paused in her speech. There were the ten kids in the front row, all high schoolers from the look of them. Although most couldn’t be older than freshmen or sophomores, she knew she had a couple seniors in the group. Behind some of the kids, but not all, she noted, were parents here to send their kids off for the summer, parents here to volunteer as chaperones, and, in the very back, her grader for the capstone, who smiled at her encouragingly.
“I know that for some of you, the thought of a whole summer away from your families and friends is a little intimidating, and I want you to know that I hear you. I will do the best I can to make your experience here as memorable and comfortable as possible, and I hope that even the most worried and initially homesick of you will find something here, a memory, or a friendship, that you will take with you and look back on fondly.”
The sunset shined through the windows, casting orange and red streams of light over her listeners. Holly wanted to capture this moment forever: the feeling of pride swelling up within her, the excitement threatening to spill over inside of her, and the beauty she saw in each one of her soon to be charges. She smiled, letting the feeling subside, “Now, I’d ask all of the parents in the room to stay behind so I can talk to you. Everyone else, who’s ready for dinner?”
Holly giggled as she watched the small stampede that ensued as the kids all ran off to the dining hall. She gathered her papers and notes and then looked out on the four people who remained. “I want to thank all of you for trusting me with your kids. I know you’ve all signed the waivers and things, but it means a lot to me that you would support my project, especially those of you who will be staying for the summer. That would be Ms. Hunter and Mr. Hannoway, yes?”
The two people she named stepped forward to shake her hand. “Please, call me Cathy,” a rather attractive woman who couldn’t be older than thirty smiled back at Holly as she took Holly’s hand in both of her own. The other chaperone, an older man in his fifties, then took her hand as well and shook it, “And I’m just Bob. No need for any formalities.”
The other two parents introduced themselves but said they had to be on their way, and with that, Holly walked with Bob and Cathy towards the mess hall for dinner. “So why a summer camp?” Cathy asked Holly as they walked in the direction of the noisy dining room, “What business program are you associated with?”
Holly opened the door to the dining hall and held it open for Cathy as she replied. “Well, those are two very different questions,” she chuckled, “but I’ll answer them both. At the university where I received my bachelor's degree, there is a tradition there that is very near and dear to my heart called Slingshot, which is basically the orientation camp for incoming freshmen. I attended Slingshot and loved it so much that I applied to be a counselor for the next three years of my undergrad. I know firsthand just how much of a difference an experience like Slingshot can make, and I wanted to create a similar experience for high school kids who may never get to go to a university like mine and experience something so life-changing. So, when I found out my master's program would allow me to take a class that would let me start my own business, I knew what I wanted to do. I want to give these kids an opportunity to have an experience that they will take with them for the rest of their lives, and hopefully they’ll make some friendships along the way.”
Cathy smiled at Holly, a smile that made Holly feel as though she were the most important person in the room for a few seconds. “Well it is certainly an admirable goal,” Bob cut in as they walked into the dining hall, “and I’m glad I can be a part of it.”
The three of them got food and sat at a table across from the one where the kids were sitting. Holly looked over the small group of high schoolers with a feeling of pride. She was glad they were all seeming to get along. The three seniors, Jill, Madison, and Jorge were conversing quietly with each other at the head of the table, while the freshmen and sophomores were discussing what sounded like the latest season of the Bachelor.
Everything was perfect, Holly thought to herself. Things couldn’t have gone any better.
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