One of Camp Paddlehard's cabins.
Amber stepped off the bus, dropped her bulging backpack on the hard packed dirt, and looked up at the familiar wooden sign: Camp Paddlehard.
After the bright red rustic style letters that named the summer camp there were three pictures. One was of a Native American girl with her hair done in plaits and wearing a brightly beaded headband with a bird feather stuck in it. There two crossed paddles and the last picture was of an open wigwam.
The ends of Amber’s mouth quirked up in a smile as she studied the sign. The three images looked rather generic, that was until you examined them closely. The girl in the first one was crying, she wasn’t squinting, her eyes were screwed up in pain. The crossed paddles were not oars for a canoe, they were paddles, but you wouldn’t use them to steer a boat of any kind. In the dimness of the wigwam’s interior a flash of red could be seen and that belonged to the tent’s inhabitant.
Amber had been thirteen the first time she came to Camp Paddlehard, her grin broadened as she remembered how naïve she had been then. She had actually believed that the name was some sort of Native American word.
The camp itself was little different to many similar establishments. It had all the activities, games and outings. The setting was in a thickly wooded area and it had the obligatory lake. There were a number of log cabins dotted around it. The smaller ones were where the campers slept and the bigger ones were the infirmary, administration (where the staff, aside from the cabin counselors, lived) and the mess hall. Camp Paddlehard was a female only zone. It wasn’t a private business as many other summer camps were, it was run by a charity and it mainly existed to give under privileged or disadvantaged girls between the ages of 12 – 17 somewhere to have a relatively normal summer holiday.
Amber’s mother had a drug problem and a fatal overdose had taken the woman’s life when her daughter was 12 years old. No one, not even her mother, knew who her father was, and there were no other known living relatives, so the girl became a ward of the state. They had tried to foster her out, but she had a difficult life and was determined to be a high maintenance charge. Two fosterings had failed miserably and she was in state care when Camp Paddlehard entered her life.
A lot of summer camps let the cabins sort themselves out, you often ended up with the bigger, older kids forming alliances and the younger, smaller ones also banded together. Camp Paddlehard wasn’t like that. They worked out their cabin assignments carefully. There were at least two experienced campers in every cabin, so they could show the new girls the ropes and help them get used to how things were done at the camp.
The new girls had all lined up and the counselors, who looked to be girls in their late teens or early twenties consulted clipboards and the names that had been pinned on the girl’s clothing in the bus on the journey to the camp and called out their cabin assignments. The names of each cabin were printed clearly on the entrance so the girls knew where to go.
A thirteen-year old Amber had looked around the clean, but stark cabin and the bunk beds. “You can have that one,” a slender, freckle faced redhead had said to the young teen, pointing at a lower bunk on one side. “I’m Robin. I’m in the bed above you.”
“Charlie,” a brunette laying on another bed, said raising a hand, but did not look up from the entertainment magazine she was reading.
“What tribe is the camp’s name from?” Amber asked as she set her small bag on the indicated bunk.
“What tribe?” Charlie asked, lowering her magazine and sitting. Now Amber could see that she had painted her lips with scarlet lipstick and her fingernails were the same colour. Amber didn’t know the girl’s exact age, but she would have put her at seventeen if pressed.
“Oh my God!” Robin giggled. “You are a fresh fish!”
“The redbutt tribe, kiddo,” Charlie said with a laugh.
“You’ll find out why they were called redskins here,” Robin followed up.
“Are you hellions terrorizing the new girl?” A voice asked and a tall, slim brunette walked in with her arm around another newbie, this one was small and looked nervous.
“Hey, squirt!” a voice startled Amber out of her memory.
Amber turned and looked into the sparkling black eyes of Nicola Charlesworth. Nicola had been her counselor in her first year at CP as the girls called the camp in lieu of its full name. Nicola had become the lost adolescent’s mentor.
Amber’s first year at CP had been Nicola’s first as a counselor, but like many of the camp’s staff she was a seasoned camper at the place. Most of the counselors and many of the staff were actually graduates of the camp. That first year under Nicola’s guidance had really straightened Amber out.
The girl had been fostered out to a good family after her summer at Camp Paddlehard. She had fitted in well and worked hard to be part of her foster family. They had formally adopted her after two years with them and she had gained entrance to a good college, where she would start as a freshman after the summer.
“Maybe I should make you call me Miss Nicola,” the other girl said with a laugh.
“I’m a counselor now,” Amber reminded her older friend.
“Not yet, you aren’t, squirt,” Nicola said. “You still need to pass this week’s entrance into the ranks of counselors.”
“We do?” Amber asked her eyes widening. “I thought it was a formality…” her voice trailed off as she saw Nicola’s wide grin and shining eyes.
“You’re going to have to work on that gullibility, Amber. I still remember that first morning with Robin and Charlie laughing because you thought Paddlehard was a real Native American word!”
With her friend’s arm around her shoulder Amber’s thoughts again drifted to that first morning at the camp.
“We were just having a bit of fun with the newbie. She asked us what tribe the word Paddlehard was from,” Robin explained.
The older girl laughed and said to Amber, “You’ve got some learning to do, honey. Never mind, there’s a mandatory induction for all our first timers in a few minutes,” her eyes then fell on Charlie and they flashed. “Is that lipstick?”
Charlie paled a little and she said, “Oh c’mon Nic! I’m seventeen now.”
“It’s Miss Nicola!” the other girl snapped. “You should know better. Hands on the wall.”
“On the first morning?” Charlie asked incredulously, but even as she said it she placed her hands on the wall and bent slightly from the waist so that her bottom in the tight shorts was sticking out.
“Hand me the paddle, please Robin,” Nicola ordered, holding out a hand.
Amber watched as the redhead lifted a thick, rectangular paddle from where it hung on a hook above one of the beds, this one had no upper bunk and Amber assumed it belonged to the cabin’s counselor, who was obviously the tall brunette.
Once Robin had given the paddle to Nicola she started to sidle out of the room. “Stay here,” Nicola said. “Sit with the other two on the bed. It will be good for them to see how things work here early on.”
The two younger girls, eyes as wide as saucers, sank down on a bunk either side of the redhead. Robin put an arm around each of them. Nicola, paddle held high, stepped up behind Charlie. Four loud pops sounded around the cabin as the length of wood impacted firmly on the seat of Charlie’s shorts.
The tall girl lowered the paddle and told Charlie to turn around. Amber had to give credit to the girl with the red lips. She hadn’t cried out during the paddling, only grunted once with the final swat. Her eyes were set, but she refused to cry. Amber thought if that had been done to her she would have been a mess. “I want your face scrubbed and your nails clean by lunch,” Nicola told Charlie. “You can see Miss Tessa if it isn’t done.”
Charlie swallowed hard and said softly, “Yes, Miss Nicola.”
Nicola retained her grip on the paddle. She smiled at the two younger girls sitting either side of Robin and invited, “Come on, we better get you two to induction. I’ll get in trouble if you’re late and we don’t want that.”
“Home sweet home,” Nicola said, pointing Amber at a cabin.
Amber’s hazel eyes went wide and she exclaimed, “No way!”
“Yes way,” Nicola confirmed.
“This is my first cabin.”
“It’s a total accident. The numbers were picked out at random.”
“That’s so cool!” Amber enthused, throwing her arms around her friend. “Is Tessa running things this year?”
“No,” Nicola answered. “She’s running the new camp.”
“So who is looking after us?”
“That would be me,” Nicola admitted with a blush.
“You’re the commandant?”
“I don’t like being called that, squirt. It always reminds me of Colonel Klink.”
Amber laughed at the comparison. “So if you’re running the show, who is the discipline mistress? Robin?”
“No, Robin is actually Tessa’s discipline mistress at the new camp. I’ve got a dual role this year. That’s going to put extra pressure on you and the other counselors.”
From Spanking Dollars. A recently paddled camper poses with the paddle used to spank her.