| Jr. Tales |

Decamping Isn’t Fun

“It’s very disappointing, but no, you won’t be sad forever”
June 16, 2020

Dear Diary,

We just heard the most terrible news: Camps are not opening this summer in our state. My mother got an email from my teen camp saying something like, “We unfortunately will not opening this year due to the virus.” (I’m so sick of the word corona that I can’t even write it here — oops, I just did.)

I am too sad to write another word.

June 17, 2020

You know how much I love camp, Diary. Even when I was exhausted after a trip day, I made sure to record every detail of the day in you. Remember the waterslide that plunged down into the huge lake? I was so scared that I almost didn’t try it — until I realized that if I do it, I can write about it in my diary! That thought gave me strength to do the scariest, most fun thing ever.

The only one in the whole family who isn’t bored is Nachi — he practices rollerblading all day and schmoozes on the phone with his best friend, Bubby.

June 18, 2020

As you know, I love to rollerblade. It’s an obsession. I got new black rollerblades with light-up wheels, which I must say look great. I spent a lot of time rollerblading over the lockdown, but today I just didn’t want to. I lay around on the couch instead. My mother asked if I was still sad about camp.

“I will be sad forever,” I told her solemnly.

“It’s very disappointing, but no, you won’t be sad forever.”

I told her that no good could possibly come out of this summer.

She said she understands how I feel, but I doubt she could.

June 22, 2020

I decided this morning before breakfast that I would be bored for the next 77 days until school started, and then I would be bored in school.

I called Miri to tell her, and she said I better not stop at 77 because who really knew if they would start school on time in the fall?


June 23, 2020

Nachi — remember him? He’s the brother who’s still somewhat little and cute — asked me to take him rollerblading. I didn’t want to because he just learned and is really slow.

“Take me to the big park.”

“Too far.”

“Don’t you feel bad for me that there’s no camp?”

I did feel bad, but I also knew that sentence was what preceded his asking Mommy for another freeze pop when he already ate six and things like that, so it wasn’t good to encourage that argument.

“Oh, come on. You’re bored too — might as well take me.” He had a point.

We rollerbladed in the big town park a few blocks from our house. Nachi has gotten a lot better lately. We were having a nice time until he stopped short on his blades, almost pitching headfirst onto the path.

“What are you doing?!” I yelled, trying to catch him.

He surfaced with a piece of paper held aloft. “Something shiny. What is it?”

I was about to tell him not to touch garbage when I saw it was a scratch-off card, the kind you buy at a newspaper store. You scratch it and it tells you if you won money. I’ve known people who won $10 from them. I explained this to Nachi and told him it was probably an old one that someone threw away once he scratched it and didn’t win.

“Looks like he won, though.”

I looked closer. It did look like a winning ticket — for $1,000! Wouldn’t the store have taken back the ticket once they paid out the winnings? If it was still around, did that mean we could cash it in? I didn’t actually know how these things worked. “Let’s ask Ta,” I decided.

At home, my father explained that, yes, the store scans the ticket, pays the prize money, and then keeps the ticket. He examined the little piece of cardboard. “Hmm. There’s some writing on the other side.” It said: Thanks for all your hard work, John. I hope you win big!

“Sometimes employers give out lottery tickets or scratch-offs as a little gift to their employees,” my father explained.

Nachi just wanted to know what we should buy with the thousand dollars.

“Ha!” Shmully snorted, “I bet Ta says we get to buy the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah!” Shmully was right, for once in his life.

June 24, 2020

What do you think we did, dear Diary, first thing today? We put a very small classified ad in the local paper that read: Did you lose a lottery ticket? Email lostmyticket@gmail.com.

When my father checked later, and we had six responses. One described the “Dear John” message basically right. After supper, we called John, all crowded round the phone to hear.

A harsh voice answered, “Yellow!”

My father said, “My name is Hershel Haskel. We have your lottery ticket.”

John let out a loud whoop. “I thought I lost it, but couldn’t imagine where. Thanks a bunch, folks.”

“Do you want to come pick it up?”

“I surely do!” We told him where we live, and right before bedtime, the doorbell rang. We all ran to the door to see John, and we must have made quite a sight — two kids in pajamas, two parents, and five other kids, all goggling at him.

John was happy to see the ticket. “Thank you all kindly. Which one of yous found the card — was it all of yous together?”

Nachi piped up, “Was me! Me! Me!”

John looked surprised, then chuckled. “Well, son, I’m impressed. You’re one fine li’l fellow.” John took the ticket and drove away in his pickup truck. We had fun calling each other “yous” all night and telling Nachi that he was a fine li’l fellow, but he had to go to bed anyway.Diary, this boring summer got a little less boring for one day, but tomorrow is back to regular.

June 25, 2020

We thought the story with John was over yesterday, Diary. But no!

When Mommy went to get the mail this morning, she found an unaddressed envelope in the mailbox. I shouldn’t say it was unaddressed. On the outside it said in block print, “For the fine li’l fellow who found my ticket.”

Are you holding on to your socks, Diary? In the envelope was $500!

“What a strange thing to do!” Mommy whispered.

“What a kook!” my oldest brother, Rachmi, commented with a snort, which is his favorite punctuation mark.

“What are you gonna get?” Shmully came to the point.

Nachi didn’t know. But for the rest of the week, we weren’t bored at all. We discussed with each other and with our friends what to do with the money.

“Put it in the bank,” Mommy advised.

“Give it to tzedakah,” Tatty suggested.

“Buy a hoverboard!” Shmully crowed. (My mother had told him no hoverboard at least 20 times).

One night, Nachi looked up from slurping his soup and said, “We should buy Bubby jewelry.” Figures. Bubby is his best friend, after all.

July 12, 2020

I was rollerblading in the park with Nachi again today when he said, “See, it was a good thing there’s no camp.”

I was shocked. “How could you say that?”

“You only went rollerblading with me that day we found the ticket because there was no camp. If there was camp, you would have been packing shampoo and things.

“And if we never found the ticket, John wouldn’t think a little Jewish kid like me was a fine fellow, and also Bubby wouldn’t have her beautiful earrings.”

I thought this over, but still refused to feel there was any good that could come out of not having camp.

Nachi continued, “There were school shoes in the store window today. Last year, seeing school shoes made you sad. I bet this year they make you happy.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 821)

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