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


4. True Darkness

After dinner, back at the cabin, Jennifer, Mandy’s head counselor, told the girls to put on sweatshirts. It would get chilly as the sun went down. “We’re heading out into the woods tonight, girls! Bring your flashlights for the walk back.”

“Where are we going?” Mandy said to her friends as she hiked along the trail. “And what do you think we’re going to do out here?” It was evening, and the sky was growing darker. She was worried about the wild animals that might be lurking in the dark woods.

“I think we’re going to have a campfire!” Kim answered from ahead of her in line. “Look!”

She pointed to a clearing area within the trees, just a short distance ahead. Inside of it was a huge pile of firewood surrounded by a large circle of rocks. Three rows of log benches lined the edge of the area.

“Oh, that makes sense,” Mandy sighed with relief. “Of course.”

Soon, all 120 campers at Camp Hickory Ridge—six cabin groups of twenty kids each—filed in and took their seats on the benches. James and Caleb waved to Mandy as they sat down. They all watched as a few of the counselors turned a small spark into a roaring campfire.

In no time, the sun went down and the sky went black. But the campfire was glowing bright. The smoky smell of the embers slowly burning was wonderful. The children heard the crickets chirping and saw stars appear in the sky. Mandy felt calm.

Soon, the counselors stood up in front of the fire and asked for the campers’ attention.

“It’s time to sing some camp songs!” Jennifer said. The rest of the counselors clapped for her. Then Jennifer and two other counselors began together. “This is a repeat-after-me-song!” they said loudly.

“This is a repeat-after-me-song!” echoed the kids.

“I said a-boom-chick-a-boom!” sang the counselors.

“I said a-boom-chick-a-boom!” sang the campers.

The song went on for several verses in funny accents and with different rhyming words. Mandy, Kim, and Margaret loved it.

“I said a-boom-chick-a-rock-a-chick-a-rock-a-chick-a-boom!” That one’s going to be stuck in my head all night after all that repeating, Mandy thought, smiling.

Next, they listened to the counselors tell stories about the history of Camp Hickory Ridge. Mandy loved that, too. James had told her some of those stories before, after his first year at camp.

Mandy, Kim, and Margaret took their turns roasting marshmallows on long sticks.

“Oh no, I burned it!” Margaret cried, pulling her marshmallow out of the flames.

“I bet they’ll give you another one,” Kim offered. “Do you want me to ask?”

Margaret pulled the marshmallow off of the stick and plopped it into her mouth. “Hmm. No, that’s okay. I’ve had worse,” Margaret said. They all smiled.

Suddenly Mandy noticed how dark it looked beyond the campfire.

“You guys don’t think they’re going to tell ghost stories, do you?” Mandy whispered.

“I sure hope not,” said Margaret.

After all, it was their first night in the woods, away from civilization, and wow, it was dark out, Mandy thought. Being outside in this true darkness—without a light from even a car or a house—would take some getting used to.

When the campfire was over, all three girls were relieved that not even one spooky story had been told.


*  *  *


That night, wrapped tightly in her sleeping bag on the top bunk, Mandy thought about her first day at camp.

She really liked it here. She hadn’t missed Mom and Dad too much since her first few hours without them. James might be right about this place.

Her brother had been to Camp Hickory Ridge for two summers before now. He had always promised his little sister that she’d love it once she was finally old enough to go.

So far, the counselors and the other kids she’d met were nice, and the activities were fun. Her bed was cozy and warm, even if the nights were very, very dark here.

Mandy decided she wanted to stay.

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