Disclaimer and A/N: I own nothing about this show. It is property of Nickelodeon and I own no characters except for the new ones that are made up. Thank you and please read and if you could review, I'd appreciate it. Any kind of feedback, including criticism, is welcome.
For at least a generation, Camp Anawanna had been known to many people, including the administration, as the "happiest place in the universe," and there was always plenty of evidence to back that up. Every year from late June until mid-August, campers, who only during these months had the opportunity to see each other or communicate at all, were delighted to see their friends and consider themselves family. Even though there were always some rifts every now and then, just about everyone in camp knew each other and got along. The sense of camaraderie near the end of every summer was the best thing you could imagine.
And for parents, it was the place their kids were to learn the concept of tough love. All of the counselors knew how to handle all kids, from the easygoing to the rebellious. With their college degrees in adolescent development, they were all specialized and prepared for the obstacles their kids threw their way. Dr, Kahn, the headmaster since the camp's founding, was no dumb cookie or pushover. He was the mind and heart of camp and every parent (not so much camper or counselor) appreciated him.
Camp Anawanna was, in short, a good investment for parents and a great experience for kids.
This summer, however, the nasty and deadly SARS epidemic spread through much of the area of the state. This included the land that camp was situated. Luckily, the outbreak occurred during the school year so no one was affected. But it meant that Camp Anawanna would have to close for the year while the place was fumigated and cleaned up.
Dr. Kahn took the opportunity to transfer his campers to another camp while the place was being refurbished. The place was known as Camp Watson-Driscoll and it was in the southern portion of the state that was not hit by the epidemic. While all the campers from Anawanna were relocated to Watson-Driscoll, some of the counselors, including Ug, opted to stay at their other job for the year and return to camp when the time was right. Ug was a gym teacher at the town high school in Corvallis, Oregon. And to help boost his pay, he decided to take on the short-term task of helping to rebuild the basketball courts and hockey rinks over the summer. While he wasn't going to camp this year, he promised to send a letter on occasion.
And so, Camp Anawanna's people, for one summer, were in a different place. This is their story and their occurrences.
"So when we actually get to this new place is it going to be different than our regular camp?" the pessimistic Dina Alexander asked her friends as they were nervously on the long car ride with her mom to their new summer home.
"As long as it has plenty of sports activities, I'll be all set," replied her eager comrade, Telly Radford. She wasn't too nervous about the new placement.
"How do you not wear yourself out with those programs? It must get exhausting after a while," Dina asked her as she applied blush to her cheeks. She felt mandated to do this. If she were to go anyplace new, she was almost always certain to put any kind of makeup on to turn any cute guys' attention to her.
The only gesture to this Telly could make in response was a disgusted glare. "The question is how can you put that stuff on and think you will attract a guy your first day?"
"It worked for me before, so why shouldn't it again?"
"That was three years ago. History doesn't always repeat itself, you know."
While the two of them were having a conversation that was starting to escalate into an argument, their other close friend was busy writing ideas down on her notepad to bring to this new camp. Always conscious of how the environment is affected by various sources, Zoe Zinaida Ziff (known to everyone including her family and friends as Z.Z. to make it easier) couldn't help but notice in the brochure that the place didn't exactly pride itself on either cleanliness or environmental issues. They were acknowledged, but hardly detailed.
"Hey guys, which do you think is a better idea?" she asked her pals sitting next to her, "a club about nature's animal friends or the importance of cleaning out the air to maintain natural beauty?"
"Z.Z., don't you think it's time that the government worries about stuff like that and you go ahead with your normal life?" Telly asked after rolling her eyes.
"In case you haven't noticed, nature's wellbeing is a big part of my life. You've known me for a long time and you should be aware of that."
Telly thought about a comeback, but instead turned back to the brochure that she brought with her and continued to read about the details of the new camp.
Dina was still antsy about the whole thing and wanted the car ride to be over. "Mom, how much longer until we're there? We've been driving for over an hour now."
"Not much longer, dear," her equally diva-like mother replied. "Only a few more exits and we'll be there."
"What have you heard about this camp, Mrs. Alexander?" Telly couldn't help but ask, looking up from the brochure.
"Not a heck of a lot, Telly. But my husband checked it out during one of his days off and he says it is a lot more modern than most camps."
"What does that mean? Better quality of everything?" Z.Z. chimed in.
"Somewhat. He described it as something like a college campus except near the woods and that the facilities aren't made of timber."
"Sounds fascinating. I hope it's run well too."
About six minutes later, the ladies arrived at Camp Watson-Driscoll. It was exactly as Dina's dad had described it. It was basically a college setting, complete with dormitories as bunks and a library for computer wizards. The girls hopped out of the car, grabbed their bags and moved to a picnic bench near the parking lot. Stiff from sitting in the car so long, they decided to stretch and get some fresh air.
"Mom, are you sure this new place is going to be okay?" Dina asked her mom again. Telly and Z.Z. in the background sighed and murmured under their breath. They had heard these types of questions all car ride long and were sick of it.
"Of course, honey. And remember, Daddy and I are only a phone call away if anything comes up," her mother responded.
"Although it's an awfully long ride."
"Dina, get over it already," Telly whispered to her annoyed.
"Hey you athlete, us divas need more assurance because our nerves become easily fragile."
"Dina, be nice now," her mother lectured. "You've known Telly and Z.Z. a long time. Your guy friends will also be here later on."
"Okay, Mom. Thank you." Dina hugged her mom as she was preparing to make the long car ride back home.
"Good bye, baby. Remember, we are a phone call away. Have fun, girls," her mom said to Z.Z. and Telly.
"Bye, Mrs. Alexander," the girls said in unison. "Thank you for the ride."
"Anytime," she replied. "So long, honey." She walked back toward her car and blew kisses to Dina as she got her keys out.
Speaking of the guy friends, they were on a school bus on their way to camp. There were a few loads of buses taking Anawanna's kids to this camp. Of the four of Ug's men group, only one of them was having real butterflies about the new scenario. The others were busy contemplating delicious opportunities and liking the prospect of a looser run camp that what they were used to. Now that they were in their teenage years, they desired more freedom.
"You know anybody who's gone here before?" the group's most outgoing member, Ronnie Pinsky asked his friends.
"No, but I heard there's a lot more action here than at Anawanna," the more hardcore and rebellious Bobby Budnick responded.
"And the quality of the food is much better," the somewhat oblivious friend Eddie Gelfen added. Since the beginning of his time with these people, he had been known to everyone as Donkeylips due to his distinct speech impediment.
"And they're better prepared for any wild animals that maybe looking for food," Budnick said.
"What about cute girls?" Pinsky couldn't resist asking.
"Let's hope there are plenty," Budnick said.
"And some within my league," Donkeylips chimed in.
They were about to get off the exit to Camp Watson-Driscoll when they noticed what their computer geek comrade Sponge Harris was up to. His real name is Sean, but due to his inhuman and archival memory, he earned the nickname Sponge because he could soak it up and keep it in.
"Spongey, what are you up to?" Pinsky inquired.
"Just checking up on the electronic clubs that they have there," he said looking up from his brochure copy. "I hope to add something like that to my resume."
"What's your main concern about it?" his pal Donkeylips asked.
"Basically just how I'm going to fit in socially. It's been a while since I switched from anywhere outside my comfort zone."
"It's not like we had a choice here."
"True, but it doesn't make me feel any less nervous. I hope Anawanna is ready by October. And I hope to catch an update from Ug."
Soon after, the buses pulled and parked into the driveway of Watson-Driscoll and the campers that had been log-jammed on them for so long finally got out and walked around with their bags and explored the site.
"This place is distinctly more college-like than what we're used to, you know," Sponge observed.
"So does that mean it's a detriment to you Spongy?" Pinsky asked in response to this.
"No, but it's just different."
"Well," Budnick started, "all I'm hoping for are just nicer people in authority and better things to do."
"You'd probably want a music group or something," Donkeylips added.
"Nail on the head, dude."
Meanwhile, the girls had been walking around with their stuff and saw their guy counterparts by the auditorium. Z.Z. suggested they go say hi. Dina and Telly reluctantly agreed even though they had wanted to mingle with the crowd that had been making its way into the camp grounds in hopes of finding new mates.
"Hi, guys!" Z.Z. greeted. "How do you like the new place so far in the very short time we've been here?"
"I guess you could say I still have some concerns, but they should go away once we get settled in," Sponge replied.
"You're not going to try any of those silly nature promotions like you did last year, are you?" Donkeylips asked her out of left field.
"I might," she said. "I do hope to convince them to improve their stance on the environment. It seems deplorable based on what I've read in the brochure."
"Anything new happen with you guys," Pinsky asked them.
"Not much," Telly said. "Just keeping up in school, that's all."
"I hope to meet new young men who will grow to adore me," Dina said in a cutesy manner, showing off her made-up face.
If there is anyone, I'll pound them into the cement, Donkeylips thought to himself. He was still not truly over his crush on her and it had resurfaced over the school year. At a Valentine's Dance, he was not only rejected by a few girls as dates, but one of them even went as far as to frame him for harassment to the principal. He was cleared of any wrongdoing because the girl who did that was known to be manipulative. If there was a girl that ever really understood him, it was Dina. Every now and then, his heart would still palpitate from him dancing with her at the social.
"I think we'll have fun here but I am uneasy about not being in Anawanna," Budnick said. "So, whatever happens, we'll stick together, the seven of us and make the best of it."
And right on cue, a rather husky but good-looking young man with bleach blond hair and a light blue camp shirt approached the crew, situated himself between Pinsky and Telly and threw his arm around them.
"Well, if it isn't some new campers," he said cheerily. "Or just transfers from the old camp."
"We're transfers, pal," Telly disgustedly replied, trying to break free of his grasp.
"Yeah? Well, allow me to introduce myself." He walked towards the middle of the group and continued with a smirk on his face throughout. "My name is Bob, Bob Kelly. And my role here is the unofficial welcomer to new campers here."
Budnick knew that sounded familiar, but he was too preoccupied with the new setting. He couldn't get over how nicer the dorm bunks were compared to the cabin bunks.
"So," Bob continued. "My pals and I here wish you a terrific time here and we hope you love it." He walked away towards his gang who were watching nearby.
"Gee, thanks," they all said. As they were walking to an information board near the auditorium, Budnick made an unwise choice to leave his bag with his laundry in it where it was. He did carry his bag with his valuable items.
"So, the lake nearby looks clean," Z.Z. said as she saw it over some rocks and beyond some trees.
"And the gym looks five-star," Telly said, looking the other way.
"I didn't know they had a library," Sponge exclaimed. "I'll be able to read all about becoming a computer guy."
"And, Budnick," Pinsky added looking towards the entrance, "check out the babes that are here."
"Yeah, they are mighty cute. Should we go try our luck right now?"
"Hey, Budnick," Donkeylips called out. "Isn't that your bag those guys are running with?"
"What bag?" He then remembered that he left the bag with the laundry in it where they met Bob and realized something seemed off with him. He turned around and saw Bob with his friends running with his bag towards an unoccupied flag pole.
"Oh no, they don't, those little slime-wipes!" He sprinted towards them as fast as his legs could carry him. But by the time he caught up to them, they had raised something up the pole and once it reached the top, it flapped in the breeze and waved to the left.
"Yeah, pal, this is how we initiate," Bob said as he passed by. Then he called out: "Hey, everyone, a new camper's underwear is up the flagpole! You know what to do!"
As everyone passed it, they saluted. Budnick had done this to so many new campers in his life, he didn't care to think what it would be like if he were ever the subject of one of them. Now that he was, he turned beat red in the face and wanted to go pound Bob.
"That big slime ball!" he exclaimed.
"Well, I guess we know what it's like to be on the other side of this, now do we, Robert?" Dina taunted once she came up to him.
"Zip it!" was all he could say in response. When he regained his composure somewhat, he spat out, "When I see that punk next time, I'll…"
Before he could finish, a man over the loudspeaker started talking: "Attention all, welcome to Camp Watson-Driscoll. This year, we want to welcome campers from our friends at Camp Anawanna and assure them that they are more than welcome here while their place gets renovated and we want to make them feel right at home. Would all campers from that group as well as newcomers please report to the auditorium for a brief orientation and room assignments. Thank you."
Budnick and the others complied with this message even as he was fuming with Bob about the prank. It was in his bones that this was going to be a long summer.
Soon after the gang entered the auditorium, it filled up with both Anawanna's campers and new ones for the first time. Sponge and Donkeylips were sitting next to each other and they were both surrounded by first-time campers, all of whom were as nervous as they were.
"Are you sure my parents made a good investment about coming here?" one asked Sponge.
"Your guess is as good mine," he answered. "We're new here as well."
"We were forced out of our camp, so we were moved over here," Donkeylips informed him.
After a minute or so more of talking, a middle-aged man dressed neatly with a tie and with dirty blond hair came out from behind a door and got everyone's attention. Once everyone stopped talking, he started:
"Thank you all for your patience and attention. On behalf of all the staff here, we want to welcome you to our domain, Camp Watson-Driscoll," he said. "This camp, founded in April 1969, used to be a college. Then in October 1983, it was converted into a camp. So if you said to yourself 'Hey, this place looks and feels like a college,' that is why. So, with that in mind, my name is Dr. Saniuk and I am the headmaster of the camp (equivalent to Dr. Kahn). I know this seems intimidating to all of you because you were either pushed out of your comfort zone, or are in camp for the first time. After about a week, you should feel comfortable."
"We'd better be," Dina whispered to her pals. "Remember it took us a while to get comfortable at Anawanna."
"We remember that well," Telly and Z.Z. whispered back.
"Now, I'd like to introduce you to your counselors," Dr. Saniuk continued. Four men stood up out of the crowd and took their place on either side of him. "Because of the larger-than-usual number of people attending this camp this year, we will split you along with the rest of the camp contingent into two groups and these four gentlemen, in teams of two, will be in charge of the group that you are assigned to. To my right are counselors, Mr. Santiago and Mr. Putney." The two of them acknowledged the crowd. "And to my left are Mr. Tavernese and Mr. Casey." Likewise, they acknowledged.
"These guys don't look too bad," Budnick murmured to himself.
"Let's hope they're not as rigid as Ug," Pinsky added, overhearing him.
"In addition to these men," Dr. Saniuk said, "We have Chef Dan Lasko who you'll see in the cafeteria everyday." He stood and made himself familiar to everyone. "And if you ever have any problems in your everyday life, we have a counseling department and the main man who could help you is Dr. Brian McKinley, Ph.D." He did the same. "And finally our nurse is Mrs. Mary Rosenstein." She did likewise.
"Looks like we're well taken care of," Sponge told Donkeylips.
"Yeah, but hopefully, we won't have to see any of those people."
"If you have to see anyone other than your counselors, that's trouble."
The rest of the informational update was basically a reinforcement of the activities and clubs that the brochure provided. Also the rules were dished out and Dr. Saniuk made it clear that they would be strictly enforced, no exceptions. Then it was time for bunk assignments.
"So, we have a list of assignments to your dorms and counselors. We know you're used to calling them bunks, but since this used to be a college, we'll call them dorms. The buildings in each section are supervised by the counselors. As such, the building that you're assigned to means that you are in that counselor's group for the summer."
"Oh, man," Z.Z. moaned. "That means we could be separated for the summer."
That was confirmed when they went up and got their assignments. Budnick, Dina, Sponge and Pinsky were assigned to Santiago and Putney's division, while Donkeylips, Telly and Z.Z. were drawn with Tavernese and Casey. Then the campers were let go and made their way to the dorms.
The two dorm buildings were each two stories high with 74 rooms, 37 in each floor in use. The guys were on the first floor while the girls resided above them. Sponge and Pinsky were roommates and they were assigned to Room 126. Sponge opened up the room and laid his stuff on one of the beds that was there.
"Seems clean for not having been in use for the rest of the year," he commented.
"We'll see how it turns out for the next seven weeks while we're here," his new roommate said back. With that, they began unloading their bags and turning the room into their own.
Meanwhile, Budnick's key opened up Room 117. He was so beat from the trip and the orientation that all he could do was open the door, plop down on the provided bed and close his eyes as he sighed and fell asleep.
"Hey, buddy, is this your room, too?" a curious voice said a few minutes later, waking him up.
"Yes, it is, what are you doing here?"
"My name is Ed. I was assigned here." He looked to be worlds different than Budnick with golf clothing and loads of books with him. His appearance seemed infinitely more mature than Budnick's.
"Well, that's your bed over there," Budnick pointed to the other end of the room.
"Thanks, Bobby," Ed said cheerily, reading his nametag. "I know we'll have such fun this year."
As Ed went to his bed and unloaded his stuff, Budnick felt his bed buckle under him and one of the legs came off, sending him to the floor. He knew Ed wasn't responsible; his heavy bags probably had something to do with it.
Man, is this going to be the longest summer ever, he moaned to himself on the floor.
Dina, on the second floor had Room 230. She opened the door and saw a redhead girl about her age unpacking and making her bed.
"Hi," she greeted.
"How are you?" Dina greeted back. She introduced herself and told her about her situation.
"Oh, that's a tough break," the girl said, cringing at the epidemic that plagued the other part of the state.
"So what's your name?"
"I'm Sue Ellen, I'm from Tampa, Florida. Where are you from?"
"New York. I come from a higher class family."
Sue Ellen did seem a little put of by that. She didn't think too highly of people in that class, having heard of stories of stuck up people.
The two continued to make the room their own with decorations while getting to know each other.
In the other building supervised by Tavernese and Casey, Donkeylips was given Room 112. His roommate, as he found out once he got in there, was the biggest slob you could ever imagine. He had gotten himself in early and had ordered two pizzas which he had eaten already. His unpacked laundry was sitting on the floor and his brown hair looked pretty greasy from the setting. He dressed silly too with a white dirty t-shirt and cut off jean shorts.
"This looks like it could be tidied up a bit," he told himself.
"No need to," the kid said. He looked to be a year or two younger. "It cleans itself up."
"Usually, it doesn't work like that."
The kid, whose name was Rick got up and went to shake his hand. "Say, Eddie," he started after reading his nametag. "You oughtta see a therapist or something about that speech impediment. It makes you sound like a donkey trying to talk."
Surprised and taken aback by this, all Donkeylips could do was let out a sarcastic laugh. "Very funny. So I must have 'donkey lips,' right?"
"I guess so. That could be your nickname."
"It should, I guess," he sighed. He proceeded to get his stuff out and get himself comfortable.
As for Z.Z. and Telly, they were assigned to Room 218. They felt lucky to have some familiarity. Their room had nothing special in it.
"I am so glad that ride is over," Telly sighed out of relief.
"Dina was so annoying with those questions and assurances," Z.Z. replied.
They were visited by a next door neighbor, who poked her head in the door.
"Are you new?" Telly asked her.
"No, I'm a veteran of this camp," the petite blond girl, Hannah replied. "This is my fifth year coming here. My twin sister, who's my roommate and I just wanted to welcome you here."
"Well, where is she?" Z.Z. asked.
"Hey, Molly, come on in!" Hannah called out. Her twin walked in with her hands in her pockets and an uninterested look in her face.
"Hello," she said softly.
"Hi," Z.Z. and Telly skeptically replied. Molly went back next door.
"Don't mind her," Hannah said. "She's incredibly shy and withdrawn. I'm trying to get her to open up."
"Have your parents helped her at all?"
"She's in special classes to help with that kind of problem. We think there might be some kind of social disability with her."
After talking and getting to know each other a little more, Hannah assured them they would like the camp and then went back to her room.
"She seems sweet," Z.Z. said. "I wonder how much she's interested in nature."
"Never mind that," Telly replied. "I wonder if she'll be someone to play sports with."
That night, the rules were flexed for one night to allow take out because the cafeteria wasn't ready for the large amount of campers yet. The campers all got to know their surroundings better and hoped that Watson-Driscoll was better than Anawanna. Little did they realize it was not much better.