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All Because of Chickens

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hello from Camp

In keeping with the October feel of spooks and specters, I decided to share a ghost story of mine that was first published many years ago. Emily Anne is at summer camp and her ghostly tale unfolds through a series of emails to her parents. Would you have the courage to follow the ghosts?



Hello from Camp
by
Kai Strand

Sunday the 8th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

Apparently we can send one e-mail home each night. Cool, huh? Today was kinda boring. We were assigned tents. My roommates are all friends from some small town in the middle of nowhere. I feel sort of left out. We met all the counselors. The lady in charge of our tent is cool. Her braids are down to her knees! She said ‘lights out’ is at 10:00 pm, but if we’re quiet afterward and not crabby the next day she doesn’t care how late we stay up. Well, it’s almost dinnertime and other kids are waiting to use this computer. I’ll send more tomorrow.

Monday the 9th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

Today was boring too. We took swimming tests and got placed in groups according to our abilities. I’m with my roommates. At least I sort of know them. A girl in the next tent cried all night and all day today because she’s so homesick. But they won’t let her call or go home! I think she should just leave. I mean, she’s miserable, and she’s kinda making us miserable too. More tomorrow…

Tuesday the 10th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

I slept like a dead person last night, even though it feels strange to sleep in a cot. The food’s okay. At least I won’t starve. We canoed out to a raft in the middle of the lake. The crying girl and her tent mates flipped their canoe. She hasn’t cried since. I still feel like an outsider with my roomies, but they’re getting better. We were the first canoe to the raft today, so we get second helpings on dessert tonight. See you tomorrow…

Wednesday the 11th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

My roommates snuck out last night and didn’t come back for hours. I didn’t tell anyone, but I wonder if I should. I wish you could reply to this e-mail to tell me what to do. Maybe I’ll just ask them. We went on a long hike today. I’ve got blisters on my heels from my new hiking boots. We played volleyball with the boys from the camp on the other side of the lake. Yes Mom, there are a couple cute boys. The kid behind me is grumbling, so I’d better go.

Thursday the 12th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Hey,

I asked the girls why they snuck out. They were trying to find an old burial plot that’s supposed to be haunted. It’s some old legend. They went out again last night, and I went with them this time. It’s no big deal, so don’t freak out. We had flashlights and didn’t even go that far. I doubt there’s even a burial ground around here. It was fun to sneak around and pretend like there was, though. We got to play volleyball with the boys again. I guess we’re going to do that every afternoon! We canoe to a volleyball court halfway between the camps, play a couple games and then canoe back. It’s really fun. I love the campfire at night. We sing, tell ghost stories and talk about boys. Bye!!

Friday the 13th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

We found the burial ground! I was so surprised. It has six graves with moss covered headstones, and is surrounded by a moldy, broken down fence. It was late by the time we found it, and we had to get back to the tent. We’re going back tonight to look for ghosts. One of the boys said ‘hi’ to me today! He even played the position next to me during the last game. He’s so cute. I can’t believe he talked to me. Remember the crying girl? She broke her ankle today jumping from a tree. She cried when they told her she’d have to go home. Whatever!

Saturday the 14th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

I can’t believe camp is already half over! It’s gonna be so hard to say goodbye to everyone, especially my roomies. We went straight to the burial ground last night. We hid under the trees and turned off our flashlights. Nothing happened. Once I thought I saw movement and I screamed. I scared the girls and they screamed too. We laughed really hard and knew that nothing was gonna happen after that. The cute boy didn’t talk to me at all today. I wore my cutest pair of shorts and everything. What the heck? My roomies are calling me, I gotta go…

Sunday the 15th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

Last night on the way to the burial ground, we ran into some boys trying to sneak into our camp. Good thing we found them first, the counselors would have freaked out if they’d caught them. We just hung out with them for awhile then went back to our tent. The cute boy wasn’t there so it wasn’t much fun. I’d rather have gone to the burial ground. The cute boy did smile at me today, but that was all. I think he might be shy. We went on another long hike today, my blisters have blisters. I’m really hungry, gotta run.

Monday the 16th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

I got the care package today. We loved the chocolate chip cookies! Thanks for the extra batteries for my flashlight. Yes, we’re being careful when we sneak out. Don’t worry! We went back to the burial ground last night. Nothing happened, but I swear I saw our counselor. I thought I caught a glimpse of her through the trees, but the other girls said I was seeing things. When we got back to camp there was a lot of commotion. We snuck in from behind our tent and pretended like we’d just woken up. Turns out those boys who we’d run into the night before had come back again and were caught. Today at volleyball I asked the cute boy where they were.  He said they were sent home. We tried to warn them. But I got to talk to the cute guy!!!! My roomie took a picture of us while we were talking. She said she’d e-mail it to me after we get home. It’s on an actual camera, since they don’t let us have our phones. Stomach’s growling…

Tuesday the 17th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Oh my gosh! We saw ghosts last night! Actual ghosts! Three of them. Girls. Our age, but dressed in weird clothes; tube tops, super short cut-off shorts, and tube socks with tennis shoes. They seemed to be playing volleyball, right there on the burial grounds. We could just barely hear them cheering each other on. It was so crazy. My heart is racing just thinking about it. They seemed so real even though we could see through them. One girl had long blond hair, and another had braids. Their hair seemed to catch the moonlight whenever they jumped or dove forward. It was amazing. So completely amazing. They faded away when they won their ghost game. We sat there for a long time after that, not talking. Because what can you say, right? I thought I saw our counselor again, but no one else did. Today we swam out to the raft. My roomies and I stayed out there after everyone else left, talking about what we saw. We’re going back tonight for sure. It was so cool.

Wednesday the 18th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Hey,

We saw the girls again last night. They actually left the burial ground! We followed them down to the lake. The legend says that’s where they died. They ran and skipped down to the water, slipping their shorts and tops off. They had ghostly bikinis underneath. They splashed around but the water didn’t move. It was weird. Then suddenly they were yanked under. One right after the other. I almost ran into the water to help them, but then I remembered they weren’t real. When they didn’t resurface, we ran back to the burial grounds, but they weren’t there either. We were pretty freaked out. It was like watching them drown. We walked back to our tent and climbed into bed without saying a word. It was sad. Really sad. But don’t worry, I’m feeling better today. Only a little sad.

Thursday the 19th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

Don’t be mad, but we had to go back. We wanted to see the girls happy, again. Like the first night. There were three new ghosts with them. Three boys the same age. Dressed just as odd, in skin tight muscle shirts, shorts with curved hems (that were way too short and way too tight—ick), same striped tube socks and tennis shoes. The boys all had shaggy hair that hung in theirs eyes and flopped around when they ran or jumped. They played volleyball, laughing and teasing each other. It was so great to see them having fun that we skipped and sang all the way back to the tent. I can’t believe we didn’t get caught. Right before I ducked in through the door flap, I caught sight of our counselor rounding the corner of her own tent. Her flashlight illuminated her profile and she was smiling. The cute boy played on the team opposite me today. We smiled at each other a lot and he even hit the ball to me once.

Friday the 20th
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

Tonight is the last campfire. The boys get to come and join us and the cute boy asked me if he could sit with me! I’m so excited. Last night we went back to the graveyard and all six ghosts were sitting in a circle. It seemed like firelight reflected on their faces, though there was no ghostly campfire in the middle of them. They paired off in couples, wrapped in blankets, and cuddling close. We could barely hear the words of the song they sang. It was a song I’ve heard you guys sing before; Rocky Mountain High. They all knew the words and they laughed a lot. It seemed like they were saying goodbye to each other, like we’ll be doing tonight at our campfire. My roomies and I cried as we watched them fade away. It felt so final. We’re going back tonight, but I don’t expect to see them.

Saturday the 21st
To: momanddad@home.com     
Fr:  kid@camp.net

Dear Mom and Dad,

The bus leaves after lunch. I thought I’d send one last e-mail, though you may not even see it before you pick me up.

Last night was so hard. Fun and sad all wrapped into one. The cute boy and I sat together all night. He held my hand and even put his arm around me. We whispered together. I liked having a private conversation in a big crowd. But then we had to say goodbye. I know I’ll never hear from him again. I can just tell.

Then my roomies and I went out for our final visit to the burial ground. We picked six small bouquets of flowers on the way to set on each grave. When we got there, there were no ghosts but our counselor stood inside the moldy, broken down fence. She had flowers, too. Her head was bowed and she was crying. We approached slowly, not sure if we should interrupt. I finally asked if she was okay. She smiled through her tears and took a very long time to answer. When she did she told us a real ghost story.

“I work at this camp every year so that I can see them one more time. They only come at this time of year, to relive the end of their lives and to have their final campfire. The campfire they never got when alive. The campfire I never had. The girl with the braids is my sister. We came to camp together that year. She and her friends had met some boys they liked. It happens every year. But that year they went too far. They agreed to meet the boys for a midnight swim. I’ve learned from watching the ghosts that the boys decided to play a joke on the girls and waited secretly in the water. When the girls swam out, the boys surprised them by pulling them under water. No one knows how all six of them drown that night, but none of them surfaced alive. Instead of a final campfire that year we held a funeral. Here on this spot. I had a very hard time accepting my sister’s death. I had to come back to camp the next year just to try to accept that she really wasn’t with me anymore. But I found her here anyway. I’ve been coming back every year since.”

We placed our bouquets on the graves of the six kids who had only made it to their early teens. The five of us held hands while our counselor said goodbye, yet again, to her sister. We walked back to camp, arm-in-arm singing, Rocky Mountain High.

It seems like a different person will be going home to you. It’s hard to explain, but it feels like I’ve changed. Now I know what it’s like to have to say goodbye. A real goodbye. I can’t wait to see you guys. Maybe we can hang out tomorrow. All of us. As a family.

I love you.

Emily Anne

About the Author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.

For more middle grade fun by Kai, read her book, BEWARE OF THE WHITE:

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Buy it: MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or look for it on iTunes. Add it to Goodreads

5 comments:

  1. Love the device of using letters to tell the story. Great fun and scary!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ellis. It's that fun & scary time of year :)

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  2. Great story, Kai! Gave me goosebumps!

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  3. I late reading this but loved it. Ghost stories are some of my favorites. That's one camp the kids will always remember. :)

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