Rosco the Rascal Goes to Camp

Ten-year-old James and his seven-year-old sister, Mandy are off to summer camp with their loyal German shepherd, Rosco. While Mandy struggles with homesickness, James's week is threatened by a prank-playing bunk mate's antics. But during an unexpected thunderstorm in a game of capture-the-flag, the prankster finds himself lost and alone deep inside the forest. Rosco must play the hero and save the boy but not before he teaches him a hard-earned lesson about friendship. Wholesome, adventurous, outdoor fun, this Rosco the Rascal tale brings the magic of summer camp to life.
*136 pages
*Recommended for ages 6-10

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12. Capture the Flag

Soon Thursday evening arrived. It was the biggest night of the week—the evening that the whole camp played a giant game of capture the flag. It was the best game in the world, at least as far as James was concerned.

He and his friends had the freedom to roam the entire camp and the woods without a counselor leading them around. James had been looking forward to it all week.

Each cabin group arrived at the main lawn outside the dining hall. The kids were split into two teams: blue and red, and were given a bandana in their team color to tie around their heads. James, Caleb, and Mike were on the blue team together. Jeffrey was put on their team also, but the boys were glad. This way they could keep an eye on him, now that they thought for sure that he couldn’t be trusted.

Excited to play the game for the first time, Mandy, Margaret, and Kimberly were on the blue team, also. Even the dogs were placed on teams, with bandanas wrapped around their necks in place of their collars. Rosco’s was blue because Mandy was on the blue team; Sheriff’s was red so there would be one dog on each team.

The object of the game was simple: to capture the other team’s flag hidden inside their territory and to bring it all the way back to one’s own territory without getting tagged.

The rules were also simple. If kids were tagged, they were taken to the other team’s jail. The jails were picnic tables in the corners of the grassy field in each team’s territory.

Prisoners had to sit at the picnic tables until freed by a member of their own team who made it safely across enemy lines and retagged them.

A boundary line was made using orange cones. The entire camp was divided into two territories. Team members weren’t allowed to hide inside of cabins or other buildings. But everywhere else was allowed, including the forest and the sports field and the outsides of buildings.

The head counselor, Tony, announced the rules over a megaphone.

“At the end of two hours the game will be over. If neither team captures a flag by then, the team with the fewest members in jail will be the winner. And just since it’s looking a little overcast this evening, I want to tell you all that just in case there’s any bad weather this evening, everyone should head back to the dining hall porch for shelter immediately. We’ll postpone the game until tomorrow if that happens.”

The counselors were to spread out across camp during the game, just to make sure that everyone was following the rules and playing safely.

“So here we go!” Tony blew hard on the whistle. “Go capture those flags!”

James, Caleb, and Jeffrey followed Mike into the woods at a brisk pace. “Come on! We need to get out of view so we can make a plan!” Mike called.

Mandy and her friends scattered into the open field, crossing the boundary line. This seemed like the most direct way to find the other team’s flag.

Out in the field, several members of the red team descended upon the younger girls instantly. Kimberly and Margaret made a mad dash toward the center of the grass but were quickly overtaken.

“Gotcha!” said a couple of twelve-year-old girls from the red team. “Off to jail!” one girl said to the other. “I’ll take them! Hands behind your backs, girls!” She grabbed them roughly by their wrists but smiled. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “I’m only playing tough. Jail is fun in this game!” Margaret and Kim peeked at each other, grinning.

But Mandy got away, having run back behind blue lines, alone, when her friends were caught. She ran to the edge of the field and headed quickly toward the lake trail. Now she was safely in her own territory. Sure, she was alone—even Rosco had run off in the other direction—but at least she’d gotten away.

James had told her to look out for the defenders on the other team. They’d catch her quickly if she entered enemy territory out in the open.

Nearing one of the cabins by the lake trail, Mandy stopped to take a breath. “Whew!” She stepped closer to the cabin, to stay out of view.

No one’s around, she thought, glancing cautiously past the cabin for any red team members to tag. She’d better keep moving. And somehow she’d have to reach the red team’s jail, so she could free her friends. But how would she get over there without getting caught?

Just then she heard quick footsteps approaching. It was three boys from the red team. Two boys from her team were chasing them. And Rosco, wearing the blue bandana that James had tied around his neck, was close behind! The boys ran on but Rosco stopped when he saw Mandy.

“Hey, buddy. How ya’ doin’?” Mandy said, petting his back. Rosco panted, smiling at her. Then he perked up his ears, looking back toward the woods at something that caught his attention.

“You’re having a good time, aren’t you, boy?” Rosco panted and smiled some more. “Okay then, go on. Run with those kids. I’m fine. Go on!”

Rosco waited a moment, wondering whether or not Mandy was telling him the truth. She would’ve told him if anything was wrong, wouldn’t she?

“Go on, boy! I’m off to free my friends from jail!” she said. “I’ll call for you if I need you, as loud as I can.” She smiled.

Rosco was really enjoying this game. There were so many kids who wanted to run with him and so many kids to chase. This was the most fun he’d had at camp yet.

He studied Mandy’s face. She didn’t seem worried or troubled at all. Deciding to believe her, he raced off into the forest to rejoin the boys on his team.

Mandy smiled and followed the lake trail deeper into the woods. She would cut across the underbrush, off the trail, and cross into red territory before anyone would notice. She was sure it wouldn’t take long.

 

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