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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14. Where There's Thunder

Chapter Fourteen, WHERE THERE'S THUNDER

 

In another part of the forest, Mandy looked about. She knew where she was and figured she was probably still in blue territory. But she was starting to get worried.

She had walked a long way from the lake trail into the woods, trying to sneak across the red side and come out right behind the red jail. She knew she would’ve gotten caught if she’d run straight toward the red jail from the field.

Now, she thought she was finally in red territory, but she had been all by herself for some time now. It was getting lonely and a little creepy.

Suddenly, a few girls from the red team ran by, chasing some boys from the blue team. Yep, it looked like she must be in red territory now. She ducked down behind a tree.

Maybe she should go back to the field where the blue team defenders would be. Maybe she should try to free Kim and Margaret by running straight down the grassy field instead of sneaking around the outside. Maybe she should just go ahead and get caught and get put in jail with her friends. She’d never been this far out in this forest before, alone. She just wasn’t sure what to do…

Just then, a soft rumbling began in the distance. Was that thunder? She brushed off the thought. No, it was probably just her imagination.

But it began again, this time a little louder.

Uh oh.

The sky had grown darker with each minute. But Mandy hadn’t noticed it very much, walking through the forest where the trees blocked out most of the sky.

Now she heard a loud clapping sound. It was indeed thunder, and it sounded closer than the last time.

A small drizzle dampened her hair. Another loud thunderclap boomed, then another, then another! Immediately, hard, fast rain began to fall.

Oh no, Mandy thought. She didn’t like thunder. Because where there was thunder, there was lightning! She felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. She peered out toward the lake, where she could see a little bit more of the sky.

Hard rain was splattering off of the smooth surface of the lake. A bright light flashed for a quick second. Lightning! Then another loud thunderclap boomed.

What should she do? Where should she go? She was all by herself!

She had no choice. Mandy began running, quickly, back to camp through red territory. She jumped over rocks and twigs on the trail. She didn’t care if someone tagged her! Not that they would anyway, in this weather!

She just wanted to find shelter and be near other people. Her heart pounded so fast she thought it might burst.

* * *

Back at the field, rain poured down by the bucket loads! James, Mike, and Caleb had run from the picnic table jail with the rest of the captured blue team campers as soon as the thunder had started. They’d all headed straight for the dining hall porch, which wasn’t far off, but they’d still gotten soaked.

Kids from all over camp were steadily streaming back now. Some were muddy. All were drenched. The game of capture the flag would have to wait until the rain stopped.

But, for all of the kids who were safely under a roof by now, the storm was exciting! It was the best kind of summer storm—the kind in which puddle jumping, splashing, and sopping wet clothing and hair brought laughter and fun.

The thunder and lightning had stopped. Now they just had steady, fast rain.

“I hope Mandy’s okay!” Margaret said.

James had come over, asking if they knew where his sister was.

“I’m sure she’ll be back soon. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine!” Kim answered, sticking her head out from under the porch and holding out her tongue to catch some raindrops.

“She’s probably with Natasha or some of our other cabinmates by now,” Margaret said. “I saw her run off into the woods when we got caught at the start.” Margaret laughed and stuck her tongue out to catch raindrops, too.

Luckily, Mandy was indeed fine. She had just come out of the woods and was crossing the grassy lawn. The dining hall was in sight and the lights inside it were shining warmly. She smiled in relief as she watched her fellow campers playing in the rain.

Thank goodness, she thought. I’m safe now. She was proud of herself for acting on her instincts and for not wasting any time. She had not allowed her fear to take over her actions. She had not frozen up and cried for help out in the woods. She’d used her perfectly good legs and gotten out on her own. And she had done all of that without wishing that her mother and father were there to save her. She’d been caught in a thunderstorm, alone, in the woods, and had handled it by herself! That was really something, she thought!

* * *

Back out in the woods, Jeffrey had made a different choice. He, too, was alone. He had heard some kids hollering to each other as they dashed back to camp when the rain started. “Let’s go! Run!”

He could’ve followed them.

But even though he was supposed to go to the dining hall if it rained, he realized he wasn’t far from the lean-to on the map. In a few moments, he’d thought it over and made his decision. He would make a run for it. He would head to the lean-to.

That’s really what a lean-to must be for, he reasoned—to take shelter from the rain. He might as well use it. Why bother going all the way back to the dining hall? He’d go wait at the lean-to until the rain stopped, even though he knew the rules.

Jeffrey knew that when the rain stopped, he’d probably be the only one left out here in the woods. That would give him a clear advantage to cross quickly back into red territory without getting caught. Then he could find the flag before anyone else did.

He could win the game for his team and be the hero—despite a downpour, despite breaking the rule about going back in bad weather.

After all, no one would know that he stayed out here during the storm, would they? Nah, the rain would probably stop quickly and the game would start up again before the counselors could take a headcount and notice he was missing.

He could still be the hero. Then, everyone would finally like him.

Jeffrey picked up his pace. He took shortcuts off of the trail, stepping across small rocks and stumbling through the wet underbrush. Thunder echoed over the thick cover of the trees. Lightning lit up the sky. He wiped raindrops from his brow.

In another moment Jeffrey stopped. A cluster of boulders stood in front of him. The huge rocks were stacked up as big as a small hill, and they looked a bit slippery.

On both sides of the boulders, bushes and trees blocked any sort of walkway. It looked easier to climb up and over the rocks than to squeeze around them. A stream of water had formed because of the rain and was running down the hill next to the boulders, toward the lake.

Jeffrey had two choices—either cross the boulders or go back and find another, probably longer, route to the lean-to. Jeffrey’s heart raced.

All right, he thought. He could do this. Carefully, Jeffrey stepped onto the rocks and began to make his way across them slowly, trying not to slip. He held on to the rocky ground at times, keeping a grip on the higher rocks as his feet found the best spots on which to step as he climbed higher.

Rain still poured down, but the trees blocked some of the effects of the water. It only felt like light rain inside the forest.

Jeffrey had made it about halfway up the rocks when a loud clap of thunder startled him. Out of instinct, he ducked, but that made him slip. In an instant, one foot slid sharply down into the narrow space between two large rocks.

“Ouch!” he cried. Pulling hard, he tried to force his foot out of the tight crevice. But it wouldn’t move. His leg was inside the narrow space up to his knee, and his high-top sneaker was stuck! “Oh no!”

Jeffrey looked around. It was still raining and thundering, and no one would be coming to help. The counselors would have a hard enough time accounting for all of the kids who were spread out around camp during the storm.

There would probably be lots of confusion because some kids would take more than getting back than others.

So, it would be a long while before they would notice that he was missing. And he was far away from the last place that James, Mike, and Caleb had seen him, so they wouldn’t even know where to look, unless they remembered the lean-to plan. But now he couldn’t even get there! What was he going to do? He’d have to find a way to get unstuck by himself.

He pulled again, harder this time. “Ouch!” His shoe was not budging. Plus, since it was a high-top sneaker, laced all the way up to the top of his ankle, he couldn’t pull his foot out of the shoe.

The hole between the rocks was long and skinny, so reaching down to untie those laces wouldn’t be easy.

But he’d have to give it a try. Struggling, he squeezed a few fingers down into the hole toward his laces.

 

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