Kyla is the camp administrator.

Reese is the board member who threatened Kyla and the camp if she didn't get spirit fired. Silver is the camp director,

Pepper is the assistant camp director.

Spike is the program director (those three are the administrative staff at camp)

Crew and Pax work as lifeguards (crew is the one who spirit gave such grief to)

Spirit is the camp counselor (evil lol) who is about to get fired.

Jo is the cook

Tex is the maintenance assistant

Pony is the riding director (works with shadow)

Chapter Fourteen

Relief and regret washed over Kyla as she said goodbye to Silver. They now had enough evidence to fire Spirit for violating personnel policies that applied to discrimination. That was the good news. Unfortunately, Silver had taken the news hard. She felt that the abuse Crew suffered could have been avoided if Silver had been more attentive.

Kyla replayed the conversation with her camp director. She had assured Silver that even the most experienced administrator might have missed the signs. Crew should have stepped forward sooner and told someone that she was being harassed. Staff Training week was stressful enough and Silver couldn’t be everywhere at once. However, nothing could assuage Silver’s guilt.

Once Spirit gets off site and things settle down, Silver will see that Spirit was responsible for her own actions; no one else.

Silver's telephone call had also set into motion another staffing change. Kyla decided to resign. Although Reese was right about Spirit, Kyla refused to allow the board member to intimidate her.

She padded into her bedroom and slid into bed, careful not to wake her partner. Kyla would write the letter in the morning and submit it to the Executive Director when she arrived at work. Then she would just let the chips fall where they may.

“You’re in bed early.” Lori slid her arm around Kyla’s waist.

“I didn’t mean to wake you, Babe.”

“You didn’t. I figured something was happening at camp. Everything alright?”

Kyla snuggled closer to her partner. “Yes and no. We’ll talk in the morning, okay?”

Lori ran her fingers through Kyla’s hair. “I love you.”

A small smile flitted across the camp administrator’s face. “I love you, too. Sweet dreams.”


Silver sat in her office still holding the telephone. The line had long since gone dead. Kyla's reassurances had left her slightly comforted that she was doing the right thing.

She put the phone into its cradle and steeled herself for the task ahead. Silver took a deep breath to clear her thoughts, stood up, and headed out of the office.

The old wooden door slammed behind her. The noise echoed off the hills across the lake.

Here goes nothing.

Silver glanced at her schedule as she walked across the lawn. Squishy. Gotta ask Ranger Bill to cut back on the watering. Okay, good. The rest of the staff will be going up to the campfire program. Better now than later.

The lights in the kitchen were still on.

Hope Jo’s here.

Silver climbed the stairs to the Lodge and began walking down the breezeway. She stepped to the side of the hallway avoiding the still wet, newly mopped floor.

“Hi, Silver". Tex’s voice carried across the inside of the building.

Perfect. I can use his help, too.

“Howdy, Tex. Do me a favor and come with me.”

Silver walked into the kitchen and turned off the radio that was blaring country music.

Jo faced the Camp Director and the Assistant Ranger while wiping her wet hands on her white apron. “Hey guys, what’s up?”

“I need your help for an hour or so.”

Silver filled them in on their job. They were to escort Spirit to her unit to gather her belongings and then make sure that she left the camp property.

“Once I relieve her of her position on staff, you need to stick to her like glue. Any problems, you radio me or Pepper for help.”

“Aw”. Tex stood, coming to his full 6’2” height. “She won’t give us any trouble.”

Silver couldn’t help but smile. “Good to know I can count on you. Wait here until I talk with Spirit. I’ll radio you when to come down to the infirmary. I figure it’s more private there than it is in the office.”

“You bet." Jo took off her apron and hung it on the hook. “We’ll be ready. Good luck, Silver. I’m sure this won’t be easy for you.”

“Thanks you guys. You’re right; this is the part of my job I hate the most. You don't know how much I appreciate your willingness to step up to the plate. It won’t be long.”



“Mind if we sit next to you?” The wrangling staff waited at the end of the wooden bench.

“Not at all. Move you guys.” Pax slid down the bench. Scooter and Crew followed suit until there was room for the other three to sit beside them.

“Why the blankets?” Shadow noted the fleece material that many of the staff had wrapped around themselves.

“Once the sun goes down it gets chilly sitting here and singing songs. You’re gonna get cold in just your sweatshirt.”

“Oh, I’m sure someone here won’t mind sharing her blanket to help keep me warm.” Blue eyes teased Shadow's favorite lifeguard.

“Sure, laugh now. But when you are a frozen wrangler on a log don’t come crying to me.” Scooter shot back. “Maybe Spirit will share with you.”

Spike stood at the bottom of the amphitheater as a large campfire crackled and popped in the fire ring. “Glad you all made it here on time. Campfire programs are one of the most memorable parts of the camp experience. Tonight we’ll do some nosebag skits and learn a few more songs. Under the bench you will find a numbered piece of paper taped to the wood. That number is your group number for your skit.”

Crew glanced at the number 1 and then scanned the group. “Where is Spirit? I haven’t seen her since dinner.”

“Let’s just say,” Pax leaned closer to Crew to whisper, “that you don’t need to worry about her anymore.”

Crew’s blue eyes opened wide with understanding. “Tonight?”

“Right now".

Crew released a breath that she didn’t realize she was holding and felt the tension leave her shoulders and her neck. Wow, she’s actually getting fired. For the first time in days, Crew allowed herself to relax and enjoy the moment.

“Okay", Spike’s voice interrupted, “Group 1 come on down".

Crew couldn’t stop smiling as she walked down the amphitheater’s uneven wooden stairs.


“You can’t fire me!”

“Spirit, unless you want the entire staff to know that you are being released, I recommend you keep your voice down.” Silver’s voice shook as she tried to control her mix of anger and nervousness.

“On what grounds?”

“I’ve explained it to you twice. You've violated the camp's anti-discrimination policy. We have collected documentation from several sources. Both staff and parents have complained about your behavior.”

“You’re one of them, aren’t you? I should have known you were a dyke.”

“Okay, that’s enough! You are released from your position here. You will be escorted to collect your personal belongings. You have thirty minutes to get off camp property.”

“Or what?”

“Or I will contact the Sheriff and have you arrested for trespassing. And don’t even think about testing me on this. I have absolutely no qualms about sending your ass to jail.”

“Fuck you.” Spirit snarled.

“No thanks. We’ll mail you your paycheck within seven days.” Silver pushed the ‘talk’ button on her radio. “Okay, Spirit's ready to get her gear.”

“I’m going to fight this, you know.”

“I honestly don’t care, Spirit. Now get out and let me run my camp.”

The Director left as Jo and Tex entered the building. “Sorry guys, I wish it could be more pleasant.”

“What? And not give us a good story to tell?” Jo smiled. “We’ll take it from here, Silver.”

“Thank you so much.” Tears brimmed at Silver's eyes. “ She gets thirty minutes. Not a second more. Call me…”

“Yeah, we know,” Tex drawled. “Call ya if we need ya. Don’t worry; we’ll take good care of her. Trust us. She’ll be out of here in less than a half an hour.”

Silver slowly crossed the lawn and headed towards Sky Meadow Hill. I just love the smell of wood smoke.

Listening to the laughter coming from the amphitheater she felt the weight of firing Spirit lift from her mind.

Glad that’s over.

She sat down just as Spike and Pepper broke into a verse of Princess Pat.

Silver caught Pax’s eye. After giving the lifeguard a small smile and “thumbs up”, she wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and allowed herself to relax.

Princess Pat did NOT live in a tree. Why do they insist on this version? Despite her objections, Silver began to sing along.


By the time most of the staff returned to their units, swirling white smoke and sounds of sizzling were all that was left of the campfire.

Silver returned and watched as three women separated the logs, which occasionally flared with small flames.

“Everything go alright tonight?” Spike used a metal poker to beat one defiant log that continued to smolder.

“Good as can be expected.”

Silver tossed a small twig into the campfire ring. It promptly caught fire before Pony was able to extinguish it.

Pepper poured a sparing amount of water onto another eruption and watched as the fire was defeated by the stronger element. “Do we need to worry about her coming back on property?”

“No, I don’t think so. Ranger Bill will handle it if she returns.” The director pitched another twig into the ring.

“Hey, we’re not trying to start another fire here.” Pony used her stick to pummel the twig until it was burned out.

“Oh, sorry.” Silver threw another twig away from the campfire.

“So, do we need to let the staff know?” Pepper sat across from the director.

“I’ve already done that. That’s where I went when the program was over.”

“How did they take it?”

“Really well, actually. Except for Berry. I think she’s worried that she’s next.”

“Should she be?”

“I don’t believe so. She strikes me as a follower. I think she just buddied up with the wrong person. Let’s see how it goes the next couple days before we make any decisions.” Silver stood and subtly motioned for her assistant to follow her.

“You guys have this campfire under control?” Pepper stood to leave.

“Yeah, if someone would quit throwing more fuel on it. Then the mighty fire crew will be victorious.” Spike teased.

“Goofball". The director laughed. “If you need either of us, we’ll be in the office. Goodnight.”


The hinge of the office door squeaked just before the door slammed shut against the wooden building.

Pepper sat in her old metal office chair as Silver perched on the edge of Pepper’s desk.

“So, what really happened?” Pepper leaned forward.

“It wasn’t pretty.” Silver began to give the details of firing Spirit.

“Wow, she seems a bit off the deep end.”

The phone rang and Pepper reached over to grab the receiver.

“Camp Echo, this is Carrie.”

Silver waited, gauging the conversation by her assistant’s expressions.

“No, I’m sorry, you will have to call the main office in the morning and talk with Kyla.”

Holding the telephone away from her ear, Pepper mouthed the word “Spirit” to the director. She rolled her eyes as every attempt to interrupt the barrage was ignored by the caller.

“Yes, I understand, but…”

“No, you need to call the office…”

“No, we don’t have that information…”

“We can’t help you with that…”

“Look!” Pepper finally lost her patience. “I can’t help you; you need to call the office tomorrow and talk with Kyla. Goodbye". She hung up the phone even as Spirit continued her onslaught.

“My God, doesn’t that woman understand the word ‘no’?”

“Apparently not. Kyla is ready to deal with her in the morning. In the meantime, I think we need to worry about the fact that our campers arrive in two days.”

Silver and Pepper began to look at the paperwork for the rest of the training schedule.

After about an hour, Silver asked, “So, even with a Taps off tomorrow night, we should still be able to fit everything in before the campers get here, right?”

Pepper reviewed the list again, making sure that the schedule was complete.

“Yeah, we will let the staff go at six p.m. but they have to be back by midnight. That means you and I will stay up late to check them in and make sure they are on time. We also need to get a head count of those who will be staying on site and eating dinner in the dining room. Jo needs that number by lunch tomorrow so that she and her crew can have stuff ready and leave for their taps, too.” Silver made a note on her pad so she wouldn’t forget to ask at breakfast.

“Okay, I think that’s it.”

The phone rang again as the women looked at each other and silently decided to ignore it. After the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up.

Curiosity got the better of them as they waited.

Within microseconds of the message ending, Silver and Pepper heard the familiar voice.

“Pick up, damn it, I know you’re there. I swear I’ll call back a hundred times tonight if I need to.”

The slamming of the door was their only response.

Crossing the lawn, the directors made two detours. One went to the kitchen and other to the nurse’s office. Each time they turned off the phone’s ringer and left a note of explanation.

Silver taped the note to the kitchen wall phone. “Let her call a hundred times. I for one, plan to get a very good night’s sleep.”


The next morning, Kyla dropped her briefcase on her office desk before approaching the closed wooden door at the end of the hallway.

The metal nameplate simply read Carol Cooke, Executive Director. Kyla touched it, allowing her fingers to run over the engraved letters in hopes that the inanimate object could give her courage. She and Carol had a good working relationship that had turned into a friendship. Kyla knew her resignation would change that.

She recognized the muffled voices of Carol and the head of the board of directors from the other side of the door. Kyla went back to her own office so as not to interrupt her supervisor’s meeting.

Seventeen voice mails? Shit, I’ll never get anything else done. Kyla sat her coffee mug down and pressed the # key. She began writing on the memo pad as the electronic voice recited, “Message one, delivered at 11:45 p.m.”

There was a slight pause before the caller began. “Kyla, this is Brandy.”

Brandy? Brandy? Who is…? Ah, Spirit. She jotted down the highlights of the call, ignoring the cursing and name-calling. Okay, hit 3 to save.

“Message two, delivered at 12:15 a.m.”

“Kyla, this is Brandy again.”

Kyla pushed the number 3 button again to save the second message.

“Message three, received at 12:45 p.m.”


She recognized the voice and hit 3. Kyla repeated the process fourteen more times when she heard Spirit’s voice.

Messages received at half-hour intervals throughout the entire night. Just a tad obsessive.

Kyla sent an e-mail to the IT Director asking that he copy her telephone messages and give her the tape. This would enable her to keep the documentation, but still use her voice mailbox, which was currently full and unable to take additional messages.

The phone rang as Kyla clicked the ‘send’ button on the e-mail. She glanced at the clock on the wall and braced herself for Spirit’s attack. 8:15, three guesses who’s calling.

“Good morning, this is Kyla.”

Good morning, this is Reese. Before you say anything, please let me apologize.”

Kyla’s eyes widened with surprise.

“I realize I was way out of line yesterday. I had no right to threaten you or the camp. Once I calmed down, I, well… I know that you’ll do what is best for the camp and for the campers. I’m sorry.” The usually fiery woman’s voice was soft.

“Thank you, Reese. I appreciate your apology.”

“I plan to quit the board of directors. I talked to Martie last night and tendered my resignation.”

Realization hit. So that’s why the board president is in Carol’s office this morning.

“Reese, if you’re resigning because of this…. Don't. You’re a good board member board and you were right when you said you’re a big advocate for Camp Echo.”

“No, it’s not just this incident. Work has become very busy for me. My company is involved in designing the new downtown convention center. Between that and my family, I can’t do justice to the board anymore.”

“I honestly hate to see you go. I hope you will find someway to stay involved in Camp Echo.”

“Thanks, I hope so, too. Well, my next client is here, I need to go. Thanks for your time.”

“Thank you, Reese. And just so you know, that counselor was fired last night. It would have happened eventually…”

“I know it would have. I should have trusted you to run your camp without threatening you. Keep in touch, Kyla. If there’s anything I can do to help Camp Echo, let me know.”

Thoughts of the architect helping to design new sleeping cabins swirled through Kyla’s head. “If you’re serious, I do have a project you could lend your expertise to.”

“I’m serious. Call me next week and we’ll talk. Bye”

No sooner had Kyla hung up the phone that it rang again.


“Good morning, this is Kyla.”

The executive director’s voice boomed over the static from her cell phone. “Kyla, I have my Lion’s Club meeting I need to attend, but when I get back to the office this morning, I’d like to have a chat with you.”

“Okay, I’ll keep later this morning free.”

Kyla hung up the phone and took another sip of coffee. It’s only 8:20 and I already want this day to be over.



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