Kids Who Live Between the Cracks

As a supervisor at summer camp, I mostly know two types of kids: the trouble makers and the awesome makers. Those who deserve punishment, and those who deserve to be adopted by myself and my wife. The majority of camp falls somewhere in between.

One week sessions are worse because there exists half the time for the same number of names and faces. Sometimes I don’t even catch the awesome makers. I’m too busy arbitrating a disagreement about hat stealing and shoe throwing (both received five minutes off of their free time).

Last week, I made a rounds of the cabins I supervised on Final Friday, the last day of camp. I had to encourage campers and negligent counselors to continue sweeping and to please identify and pack all pairs of underwear abandoned on the clothesline. My third time in Cabin 37, Isaac stopped me.

This particular session was a young one – those in Cabin 37 were entering the fifth grade as eleven-year-olds. Even so, Isaac was the runt. Blonde headed and bug eyed, Isaac was four inches shorter than anyone else in the cabin and he spoke like a plainsclothed policeman, whispering into a hidden microphone. Most questions aimed at Isaac echo off his stone faced but sweet visage and are answered by his cabin mates. He is slow to speak and moves quite silently. I knew him little.

*pick a card* he whispered, fanning a deck of 52 in front of me. I chose the six of diamonds entirely by accident. *now put it back* he said three times before I finally understood him.

Isaac then began to shuffle the deck thoroughly, not looking at the cards or myself, but at an unmoving shadow of light coming in from the shuttered window. Then, as abruptly as he began his trick, he ceased shuffling and handed me the deck.

I took it in one hand, expecting further instructions, but none came. Small Isaac, oblivious and quiet, still stared at the shadow. Then, without warning, he slapped the deck out of my hand with an amount of force that shocked me, compared to his tiny frame.

The cards scattered to the floor. All the cards, except the six of diamonds – somehow, I was still holding it.

In amazement, I looked at Isaac with my eyes held wide. I had only learned his name that morning, when I had to double-check whether he would ride the bus or be picked up by his parents. I opened my mouth to congratulate him on a well done trick, much like I would to any camper, but instead he walked back to his bunk and laid down.

Other campers began to pick up the cards quickly, as one shouted, “Isn’t Isaac awesome?”

I’m now in the early stages of adoption papers.


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