"L ast month you were hiding in the office on the first day scared a kid might talk to you” Chananya Singer said “and look at you now.”
It was the first day of the second half and Chaim had set up shop in a gazebo near the main road greeting each of the new campers as they passed by. At Yudi’s suggestion he’d been giving out little gifts — plastic water bottles filled with cold Coke with labels that read “C.N.D. welcomes you” — as he asked each boy his name.
Chananya Singer had gathered the campers who’d been there for the first month and instructed them to greet the new campers and show them to their bunks.
One of the new kids a chubby blond boy with oversized blue-framed glasses turned to his friend and said “This is my third summer but it never felt this way before. There’s like something in the air you know? It used to be that the first-half kids were running around looking for leftover nosh and empty shampoo bottles now they’re all so excited to welcome us.”
Chaim overheard the comment and allowed it to wash over him. He wished he could share it with Barry Penner. He might have texted the exchange to the president of Zichron Asher had they been on speaking terms.
Yesterday Penner had once again made it clear that he had no intention of selling the camp to Chaim. “Reb Chaim ” he’d sighed “you’ve been a disappointment what can I say. You’re working against us. You’re not a serious buyer period. End of story.”
“I’m so sorry Tatty ” Chaim said “It hurts to disappoint you. I’ll try to be a better yingel in the future.” And while Penner kept sighing into the phone Chaim forged ahead. “By the way Barry I think I know why you won’t consider selling to me — because you’re worried that I’ll turn the camp around and we’ll have the waiting lists and profits you always dreamed of and you won’t be able to handle it. You’re scared.”
Penner had hung up then but Chaim had to call him a few hours later.
“Listen Barry there’s a kid here Harkin he’s only registered for one month but I think he can benefit from being here a whole summer. His home life isn’t simple. I spoke to him and he’d be thrilled to stay.”
“Chaim.” Penner was angry. “Stop! Just stop! The organization runs the camp not you this isn’t your job. Make sure the exterminators came and dealt with the skunk problems by the shed okay? But leave the activism stuff to us.”
“Okay sure Barry. I’ll get on the skunk thing ASAP. But one question. Isn’t Zichron Asher like about helping families?”
“Chaim. I have nothing more to say. You heard me.” Penner was back in mature-boy mode.
“Yes I did. Harkin is staying though. I’ll call the parents and explain that we love him the counselors love him and we have empty space so it’s greatly reduced. It’s on me. My credit card is on file I’ll send an e-mail to Malky at the office.”
For the second time in one day Penner ended the call. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Issue 662 – Special Shavuos Edition 2017)
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