"Since I was a little kid, I look forward to it all year! It's great! Don't even worry about the bears!"
But Quinn was worried about the bears and all the animals with big teeth, like wolves. And what about all the bugs? What about being a new boy trying to fit in? What about girls, who might talk you into doing things that you've never done before!
"Are you really saying you've never water-skied before? Or ridden a horse?"
It's all part of The Camp Crowfeather Mystery! Why are these weird things happening? Are those really wolf legs? What happened to the scrambled eggs? Are there really giant squids in the lake?
Quinn and the kids have got to do something! It's going to get exciting at The Camp Crowfeather Mystery!
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The Camp Crowfeather Mystery
By Rick Hughes
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Rick Hughes
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAnimals with Big Teeth
Quinn Compton sat at the back of the yellow bus, trying not to worry. He was on his way to summer camp for the first time and he'd been told that he was going to have a great time and there was nothing to worry about. The thing was that all he could think about were things to worry about, so it was getting really hard not to worry about any of them.
He looked out the window of the bus at all the trees on the side of the road and tried not to worry about all the animals with big teeth that were probably living in there. Especially bears. He was really trying not to worry about bears.
He remembered seeing this huge bear on TV that was really mad for some reason, protecting its young, he thought it was. The bear had reared up on its hind legs, sticking its head way out with its mouth wide open so that you could see all its big teeth. Then it had let out this mighty roar that was so loud that he'd reached for the remote to turn the sound down. It had been amazingly scary. Bears in these woods probably had young to protect too, and he didn't think that the remote would be much use here.
And what about all the bugs?
He tried to think back to all the pep talks he'd got to try to convince him that going away to camp was a good idea. His mother had mostly focused on making sure that he didn't feel that sending him to camp was a way to try to get rid of him. He didn't really think that anyway, so it was fair to say that her pep talk had worked. It just wasn't very helpful when it came to animals with big teeth. So he went back to worrying.
And what about all the kids? They'd probably all been to camp lots of times and there'd be no one else like him, the only one who'd never been to any kind of camp in his entire life. How was he ever going to fit in?
And what about all the bugs?
He reached into his jacket pocket and put his hand on the thing inside. He was tempted to take it out, but he didn't want anybody else to see it. His tutor OnTime had given it to him when he'd told him how worried he was going to camp for the first time.
OnTime was a great guy. Quinn's Mom had hired him to try to stop Quinn from being late for everything all the time, which had been a real problem. OnTime had lived up to his nickname on that one; Quinn was never late any more and his marks had gone way up. But OnTime had shown Quinn a lot of other cool stuff too and one thing about him was that he never seemed to worry about anything.
Quinn wanted to know why that was, especially at a time like this. So the day before he left for camp, he asked him. What was his secret? Why didn't OnTime ever worry?
"I don't know. I just don't think about it."
That was what he said and he realized right away that it wasn't the answer that Quinn was looking for. He tried repeating it. "Seriously. Just don't think about it."
Quinn just didn't think that this was going to work for him. He always thought about things like that. "But what about bears?"
"Just don't think about them. If you start thinking about them, just stop."
"Okay," said Quinn. He was thinking that this was going to be a lot easier said than done. "But did you ever go to camp? Did you ever see ..." He was going to say 'bears' but he stopped himself.
"Yeah, I went to camp every summer and I had a great time. I loved it." He gave Quinn a look. "And I never saw any ..." Then he laughed and he reached into his backpack and fished around for a while. He always had a lot of stuff in his backpack. When he found what he was looking for he took it out and handed it to Quinn. "This guy is going to help you a lot."
Quinn looked at what he was now holding in his hand. It was a bobblehead.
"Do you know who that is?" Quinn shook his head. "That's Satchel Paige. Do you know who he is?" Quinn shook his head again. "Google him. You'll find out. Do you know what he knows?" Quinn shook his head one more time. He was starting to feel a little like a bobblehead himself. "He knows not to worry. He knows that people spend way too much time worrying about things that are never going to happen anyway. He knows just not to think about it." OnTime pointed. "You see? He's smiling, because he knows. He's not worrying about anything. Quinn looked at the bobblehead. He did have a smile painted on his face. "If you start to worry about something, just ask Satchel the question." He laughed a little. "And then tap his head. Sideways. It's important to tap sideways." He laughed again. "Go ahead. Try it."
Quinn looked down at the bobblehead and then he held him up a little so that his head could move. Then he said, "Should I worry about going to camp?" Then he tapped his head, sideways. Satchel Paige kept smiling as his head shook from side to side.
"You see? There's your answer! Satchel knows!" OnTime was laughing really loud now. "Now try it about the 'you know what'."
Quinn knew what he meant. He grinned. "Should I worry about ... bears?" He tapped again, sideways. When Satchel's head started to shake, OnTime started to laugh so hard that he had to lean on Quinn's shoulder to stop from falling over. Quinn had to laugh too. It was just so stupid. Satchel Paige didn't laugh; he just kept smiling.
"Now there's something else that he knows. It's something that he's famous for saying." OnTime touched the bobblehead. "You'll notice that Satchel's head can't turn all the way backwards. That's because of the thing that Satchel Paige always said."
"What was that?" Quinn could tell that OnTime wanted him to ask.
"Never look back; something might be gaining on you."
OnTime slapped him on the back. "Now put Satchel in your pocket and take him to camp with you."
Quinn smiled now, sitting on the bus with his hand on Satchel Paige in his jacket pocket. He decided to take it out. He didn't care how stupid it was. He held the bobblehead up so that his head could move. He didn't say anything out loud. He just tapped Satchel's head sideways and smiled as his head shook from side to side.
In the seat next to him, Keenan hadn't noticed. Keenan was his best friend. He lived right around the corner and he was in the same class, so they were together a lot. He was the one who had talked Quinn into going to camp. He'd been going ever since he was a little kid and he loved it. It was the thing he looked forward to most in the year. He was so enthusiastic about it that he had finally convinced Quinn that it might not be that bad. Right now he was leaning across the aisle talking to a kid who had his hat on sideways. The kid seemed even more excited about camp than Keenan was and that was really saying something.
Quinn put Satchel Paige back in his pocket, glad in a way that Keenan hadn't noticed it. He decided not to ask him about the animals with big teeth. He looked back out the window. There sure were a lot of rocks and trees and he was absolutely not going to think about anything that might be living in those woods, teeth or not.
Then the bus made a turn and Quinn could feel the energy on the bus start to rise. The scenery didn't look any different to him, but all the kids around him were starting to point like they recognized things. Keenan turned and leaned across him to point out the window.
"Look!" he said and Quinn did, but all he saw were more rocks and trees. Then the kids at the front of the bus started yelling and Quinn stuck his face against the glass. Now he could see that they were coming up to a big sign with 'Camp Crowfeather' painted on it in red. There was a huge wooden feather hanging over the road and when the bus passed under it, a huge cheer went up all through the bus. Keenan and the kid with his hat on sideways yelled as loud as anybody and did some 'high-fives.'
Quinn didn't cheer. He just put his hand in his pocket around Satchel Paige.
Everybody was jumping up out of their seats, getting down their stuff, really excited to be getting off the bus.
Quinn figured that of all the kids getting off the bus, he was probably the only one who wanted to stay on.
Chapter TwoThe Bluebirds
The bus rattled to a stop and everybody started to push toward the front to get off. Just about all of them had their stuff down from the storage racks already, so when Quinn slid over into the aisle and stood up to look for his bag, it was easy to spot. There it was, with the yellow sleeping bag tied to it. He hoisted it down and slung it over his shoulder.
He was a little worried about the sleeping bag. For one thing he didn't like it being pink, but when he'd gone with his Mom to buy it, it was the only one they had left. But mainly he was worried that he'd never slept in one before. He thought that maybe he should have practiced, but they'd bought it the night before, so there hadn't been time. It seemed pretty stupid anyway, practising sleeping.
He was pretty sure he had all the stuff you were supposed to bring; they'd marked off everything on the checklist. There was stuff you weren't supposed to bring too, like cell phones. Keenan said they didn't want kids phoning home all the time, complaining about how homesick they were. It kind of made sense, but he already missed his phone. He was used to having it in his pocket all the time.
He looked over at Keenan. He had this huge grin stuck on his face. He was straining his neck, trying to see if the front door was open. He turned to Quinn. "This is going to be so great!" He'd been telling him that for days now, weeks really. It was hard not to feel a little of the excitement too. Then the front door finally opened and a cheer went up. "Here we go!" said Keenan, and Quinn followed behind.
As they piled off the bus, another one was rolling up beside them and soon kids were pouring out of that one too. There were kids everywhere. It was hard to figure out which way to go. Luckily, Keenan seemed to know, so he just followed him. Keenan was busy waving and yelling to kids he knew who were getting off the other bus. Just about everybody was yelling at somebody. Quinn didn't have anybody to wave to. He was just making sure that Keenan didn't get out of his sight.
"We're "Bluebirds!" yelled Keenan, pointing at a cardboard sign that had been stuck on a wooden post. Quinn looked and saw "Bluebirds" written on it along with the names of some other birds. There was an arrow pointing down the path on their left. "It's the name of our cabin!"
"How come everything is birds?" Quinn wanted to know.
"I don't know. It just is." Keenan slung his duffle bag over his shoulder and started to hurry down the path. "We'd better hurry! It's almost dark!" He was walking so fast, he was almost running. "Look, there's Looey ahead of us!" Now he was running. "Hey Looey, wait up!"
Looey was the kid from the bus with his hat on sideways. "Come on, Keenan! Let's take the shortcut!" He turned off the path into the woods.
Keenan laughed and followed him. "We're not supposed to. It goes through girls' camp!"
Quinn couldn't figure out where they were going. There wasn't any path. They were just walking into the woods, and there was a huge hill.
"Watch out for the greasy tube!" yelled Looey and Keenan started to giggle. Quinn tried to look out, but he didn't have any idea what they were talking about.
"See! There it is! Make sure you don't step on it! It's greasy!" Keenan pointed to the ground and Quinn could make out a thick yellow rubber hose that went down the steep hill. "One night I stepped on it and I slid all the way to the bottom! It's greasy!" He started laughing so hard that Quinn thought he might slip and fall just from that. Quinn tried not to step on the yellow hose. It did look kind of greasy.
It was starting to get dark, especially in the middle of the woods like this. He kind of wished they'd just stayed on the path. He could hardly see where his feet were landing, which a lot of the time seemed to be on big tree roots. He was trying hard not to fall.
"Don't let any of those girls see you!" Keenan pointed down the hill. "They'll tell on us!"
Quinn squinted down the hill, trying to see where his friend was pointing. He didn't think that any girls could see him. He sure couldn't see any girls. He was too busy trying not to step on the greasy tube.
"Woo hoo!" Up ahead, Looey was sprinting the last few strides out of the woods on to path at the bottom of the hill. Keenan gave a 'woo-hoo!' of his own and followed him out. Quinn didn't 'woo-hoo' but he did feel happy to be able to see his feet again on the gravel path.
Keenan pointed. "At the end of this path is the home of the Bluebirds!"
They walked along a little and then Quinn could see the wooden cabin. He could tell how happy Keenan and Looey were to see it. He was happy to see it too. He just didn't think that he'd ever be able to find it again.
They climbed the two steps to the verandah, stepped past the wooden sign that had 'Bluebirds' painted on it, and swung open the door.
He walked in and saw bunk beds. The one in the far corner was occupied by two guys who were lying there listening to hip-hop. The music was unbelievably loud. Keenan said something to them but it didn't look like either one of them had heard him. He turned and gestured to the bunks just inside the door. "These are our bunks!" he yelled. Quinn could hear him, but only a little. The music was so loud. Luckily it was a song he liked.
Keenan threw his duffle bag on to the bottom bunk, so Quinn hoisted his up and put it on the top. Then he stood and watched as Keenan walked to the far corner and picked up an Ipod and clicked it off.
"Hey, what'd you do that for? That's my favourite song!" Looey had dropped his bag on a bunk and was doing a hip-hop dance in the middle of the cabin. He didn't stop when the music stopped. He didn't seem to need music for the moves he was doing.
"Hey, didn't hear you come in!" The guy on the top bunk sat up and then hopped down to the floor and gave Keenan a high-five handshake. The guy on the bottom bunk stood up and did the same.
"I wonder why!" laughed Keenan.
"Just got them last week." The guy patted one of the speakers sitting on the floor. "I brought one and Gerry brought the other." The other guy patted the other speaker. They didn't match.
"They sound great," said Keenan.
"They did!" wailed Looey. "Come on, Pat! Turn the music back on!" He was still dancing.
"Let's be meeting the new boy first," said the one called Pat, walking over to Quinn with the one called Gerry right behind him. "We want to be giving him a proper welcome." He put out his hand. "Tut, tut, tut, ta ta tut. Sure 'tis a pleasure to be making your acquaintance." He turned back to Gerry. "Is it not, Mr. O'Houlihan?"
"That it is, Mr. O'Reilly. That it is."
Quinn shook one guy's hand and then the other's. He was feeling a little confused. He'd never met Irish guys before. Pat pointed to the bunk in the corner beside them.
"And that corner bunk belongs to Matt, our trusty Counsellor, who takes such good care of us. At the moment, he's in the washroom, making terrible smells. Keenan, could you knock and tell him that the new boy is here?"
Keenan walked out to the verandah to the washroom door. When he got there, he noticed that the washroom door was open a little, so he pushed it the rest of the way. Then he turned from the door with a terrified look on his face. "Oh my God! He's not here!"
"What do you mean? I was sure he was in there! Those smells!" Pat rushed out to see. "Where can he be?" Gerry rushed out to join them. "We've got to go look for him!" He raced back in to the cabin. "Come on! There's no time to lose!"
Excerpted from The Camp Crowfeather Mystery by Rick Hughes Copyright © 2012 by Rick Hughes. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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