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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11. Worries

Mandy stared at the ceiling. She was wide awake. It was late, and most of the girls were asleep. But she just couldn’t seem to settle down. She had been tossing and turning all night, trying to chase away the scary thoughts.

It didn’t help that Jennifer had explained that it was just the boys playing a joke on the girls and that it happened every year. She still couldn’t block the fear from her mind.

Even though Rosco had come back safely from the woods and had found no one out there, she couldn’t stop worrying. Mandy wondered what could have happened to him out there, late at night, if he hadn’t come right back. What if there were real monsters?

No, she knew better than that. Monsters weren’t real. Mandy wasn’t normally afraid of the dark. But now, the dark seemed like a bad place. And those scary thoughts made her miss her parents. And missing her parents made her miss the safety of her own bed. And missing her own bed made her homesick.

Those sad feelings started to creep back into her brain. She turned over again in her sleeping bag, trying to find a comfortable enough position in which to fall asleep. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to think good thoughts.

Just calm down, she told herself. Everything’s fine. Her mother always told her that she should think good thoughts as she fell asleep at night, especially when she was worried that she might have nightmares.

Thinking good thoughts helped to scare away all the bad thoughts and give her good dreams. She’d better give it a try.

 

*  *  *

 

Rosco, on the other hand, was exhausted. He had run all the way to the boys’ unit, and sniffed for clues around each of the three, large cabins where the boys slept. He had picked up the scent of one boy in particular.

He knew he’d heard someone running off down the trail. He was sure he’d heard the sound of only one person’s footsteps.

Rosco just wished he’d chased the boy sooner and not waited for Jennifer to come out of the cabin first. He might’ve caught up to the troublemaker if he’d left sooner. But he hadn’t. Whichever boy had scared the girls had gotten away.

When Rosco returned to Mandy’s cabin twenty minutes later, Mandy rushed out to greet him.

“Thank goodness you’re back, Rosco!” Mandy said. “Jennifer said it was probably just some boys playing a nasty joke on us! I’m so glad you’re okay! That was very brave of you!”

Jennifer had explained it all to them. She said that it was nothing to worry about. But Rosco still thought he’d like to know exactly who did it. And he had a pretty good idea just who it might be—someone who’d already caused problems this week for lots of other kids—someone in James’s cabin.

 

*  *  *

 

Back at the boys’ cabin, James also lay awake thinking. Didn’t Jeffrey realize that if he kept this up, he could get kicked out of camp? Was playing pranks really worth it to miss out on the rest of the week?

In some ways, James hoped Jeffrey would get kicked out of camp because he was so tired of the problems that Jeffrey caused.

Jeffrey just didn’t seem to get it. Wasn’t it enough that they were treating him like one of their group now? He must not have any idea what it means to be a real friend. Not after what he did to Caleb tonight at the ice cream party, even if it had been an accident. None of that would’ve happened if Jeffrey hadn’t been goofing around.

And now Jeffrey had played a prank on Mandy’s cabin. James had specifically told him to leave his sister and her friends alone.

When would Jeffrey stop all this nonsense, stop making everyone feel uneasy? Each boy in James’s cabin worried that he’d be the target of Jeffrey’s next practical joke.

It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch, his mother always said. Well, that certainly was turning out to be true. James didn’t want any more of his week to be ruined by this kid’s rotten behavior.

They’d have to do more than include Jeffrey in their group. They’d have to keep an eye on him, at all times. They’d have to stick close to him, keep track of what he was doing. He’d talk to Caleb and Mike tomorrow. Together, they would put a lid on this can of worms.

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