For this one, you must get rid of your own rising panic by counseling a panicked camper.
DINNER HOUR (any gender, mid teens through early twenties)
Johnny? Buddy? Can you stop... stop drawing in the dirt and look at me?
Ya need to eat, kiddo. Just a fact. They're probably serving seconds, already. Then the dining hall is going to be closed. We've got about 10 minutes before the bell strikes. How bout it? I'll race ya there.
Johnny, it's okay to be homesick. Especially before parent arrival day. Or grandparent arrival day. You love your grandma a lot, don't you? I'm sure she loves you. And Johnny, lot's of campers get homesick right before camp is over. But, but there's still SO much fun stuff tonight and tomorrow, right? The campfire? Tomorrow's performance? Let's focus on that, okay? Okay? Get some food and focus on...
That's what I'm supposed to say, Johnny. For most campers, it works... but for you, it's horse shit, right? It's not homesickness. Am I right? These dirt drawings. I think I know what's going on. It's almost like you're taking notes, a teacher somewhere is telling you what to draw... or write. They could be letters, I guess.
Johnny, I'm not supposed to say stuff like this but... I've been getting dreams; nightmares. And I'm seeing these shapes in them. Then I'm seeing you drawing them, kinda freaks me out. I'm sure you're kinda freaked out too.
Johnny: Is something bad going to happen here at camp? Should we get out of here? I'd... I'd follow you. Crazy. I could lose my job saying this but... I'd follow you if you thought there was a safer place for all of us to be... before arrival day.
And you know what? I'm not hungry either, right now. But we gotta eat. Just a fact. Can we pretend everything's okay? Just for the next couple of hours. I think that's part of survival.
Copyright 2016 by Matt Haynes.
If you would like to use this piece, please credit: "Courtesy of Matt Haynes and The Pulp Stage"