The Camp Of The Willows
by Barbara Lynn Terry
"Get up, dear." Mom had said in a very sing song voice. I am going on thirteen, so why is she talking to me, like she would my sister. I opened my eyes, and swung my feet out from under the blankets.
"Your bubble bath is ready, dear, and I want you to use the body powder on the sink when you are finished. I will lay out your clothes."
Bubble bath, body powder. I have never taken a bubble bath and I never use body powder. But mom said in such an angelic tone, who could refuse? I went in the bathroom, and took off my pajamas and got in the tub. I used the oversized sponge to make sure the water cascaded over me. I grabbed mom's berry berry shampoo and washed my hair, which was shoulder length. I had no idea what mom was on about, but I knew that I probably wouldn't like it too much. When I was finished with my bath, I dried off with the softest towel I had even touched. I wrapped it around my waist and went to my bedroom. Mom just smiled.
"Dear, girls cover their breasts when all they have is a towel."
Girls? Did she just refer to me as a girl? I looked at my bed and what I saw almost gave me a massive coronary. On the bed were soft blue panties and bra, a soft blue half slip, a sky blue skirt, and a matching shirt. Next to them were a pair of tan, stay up nylon stockings. I walked to the bed and looked at the clothes.
"Get dressed, dear, and come downstairs, your aunt Caroline will be here in a few minutes."
"Mom, why do I have to..." I turned around and she was gone. I had seen my sister, who is sixteen, put on her stockings, so I basically knew what to do. I put on the panties and the bra, which to say almost took me forever. So I just hooked it together in the front and twisted it around. I balled up a couple of pairs of socks, and put them in the cups. I put on the half slip, and then the skirt and shirt. After I made sure the shirt was tucked in, I sat down and put on the stockings. After that I saw a pair of soft blue Mary Jane's on the floor. They must be for me, so I stepped in to them, and sat down and buckled the strap.
I went downstairs, not sure what was going on, and my dad was the first one to see me.
"Come here, girl, and let me look at you."
I went over and he walked around me, going "uhhuh, yep, good, good, beautiful". Then he sat down.
"I see our youngest daughter is going to fit right in.
"Excue me, dad, but fit in where, and who is your youngest daughter?"
"You are, and you will fit in nicely at camp. Your sister is going to summer camp this year as a junior counselor, and she said it was a shame you couldn't go with. We talked about it, and decided you have the frame, the looks, and the attitude. Your mother is taking you for a makeover at her salon, and since you have no body hair, a waxing is out. But from what I can see, you make a fine girl. Would you like to pick a girl's name or do you want us to do it for you?"
"Why would I need a girl's name?"
"So you don't stand out at camp. You can't go to a girls camp and have a name like Roger.
"So, why am I going to a girl's camp?"
"Because your sister thought it would so cute to have you there, so you can see how the girls live with each other."
"But, again, why do I want to do that?"
"Because Rachel, dear, if you don't go to this camp with your sister, you will be going to school in skirts and dresses. To be honest, Rachel, we have had enough of you and your sister fighting all the time. We are tired of the jokes you play on her, which are not even funny. We are tired of the way you talk to your friends over the phone about girls in general. Either do as we say, or wear skirts and dresses full time until we say you have had enough."
"Mom, dad, that isn't fair. She starts everything knowing you will take her side. She teases me in ways you haven't seen, because I'm a man I don't cry about every little thing she does. But man o' man, let me pull something on her and she cries to you knowing you will be all over me. I don't cry about that either. Why can't you punish her for a change?"
"Because like you said, you're the man and you don't cry about spilt milk. By the same token, young lady, you don't play tricks on your sister just because she plays a harmless prank on you. Men have to take what women do with a grain of salt, laugh it off and get on with the day. If one of your friends did something like that and you got even that is one thing, but you don't get even just because a girl played a harmless prank on you.
"For the next two weeks before camp starts, you will dress completely as a female, night and day. You will go to summer camp for eight weeks with your sister. We already talked to the camp owner and counselors. You will be accepted there without an argument, and you are to conduct yourself as a young lady at all times. Do you understand the rules that we just laid down?"
"Yes, sir," I said in a dejected tone. I wonder what made them flip this time.
"Good! The name of this camp is the Camp of the Willows and is run by a nice lady and her two daughters. You will be assigned a cabin with five other girls. Now, your mother and sister will train you in how to act, and they will make sure you are ready to leave for camp on time. So, mother, she is all yours."
I didn't know what to expect now, but dad had laid down the rules, and the only way I could get out from under them was to run away. But I had no idea where to go. Looks like I am going to a girls camp.
"I just have one question?"
"What would that be?"
"What made you decide this now?"
"You left a bag of feces in front of your sister's bedroom door, and when she got up this morning, she stepped right in it. That was solely uncalled for. So you will obey the rules we set down for you. Is that clear?"
Mom and dad can't be around all the time, and when I can I will get even with her. So they want me to be a girl hey. Well, I am going to be the best girl I can be. Yesterday was the last day of school for the summer. Camp starts on July first and for the next two weeks mom and Sharon were going to teach me how to act like a girl. So I had better pay attention. I wonder what would happen if I let the girls at camp know that one of their junior counselors is a perv? Well anyway, there was no getting out of this now, so I had to bide my time. I would see what I could do when I got to camp.
"Rachel, come with me."
We went up to Sharon's room, and mom had me sit down in front of her makeup table, vanity, dressing table, whatever you want to call it. I sat down on the French provincial bench and mother told me to stand up. She said a lady always smooths out her skirt or dress as she sits down. She showed me what she meant. I copied her and got a smile that I did it right. Sharon was rummaging in her closet for something, and then an 'aha, I found it'. She had what looked like a small over night case, and she set it down on her bed.
"You look very pretty, sis, but mom and I are going to make you stunning. I see you washed your hair. That's good because now we can set it until tomorrow when we take you to the salon for your makeover. So come over here, girlfriend, and get used to what we girls go through to look pretty for the men."
"I don't want to look pretty for men. I'm a ..."
"Sister of mine, I don't know how you see yourself, but even in your own clothes you look pretty. Why do you think everybody at school keeps calling you a butch dyke? Because you look like one. Even the girls tell me to get mom and dad to get you out of your tomboy phase. Everybody at school thinks you are a girl, and that is why I went to mom and dad because of your latest gross prank. The Camp of the Willows accepts boys who can pass as girls as long as they act like ladies.
"Now, let me put this towel around you and clip it so you don't get your clothes dirty. I am going to set your hair like some of the girls at school have theirs. I will brush it out, and you will see a whole new you. When I put each roller in your hair, I am going to put what is called a setting solution to hold the curl. While your hair is drying, I am going to work on your fingernails, while mom works on your toes. Then we are going to put a little makeup on you, and then you can see what you look like to the others at school without makeup. Are you ready, sis? Here we go."
She started at the top of my head and took roller after roller and rolled my hair into curls. Everytime she put that foul smelling setting stuff on, I wanted to gag. I endured it though, and mom and Sharon both did my nails, and then Sharon put my makeup on. The dryer cap was taken off after about thirty minutes, and Sharon brushed my hair out. She had me stand in front of her full length mirror that was on her closet door.
"Well, sis, tell me what you see."
"I see a beautiful girl, and if I didn't know that girl was me, I'd ask her out on a date."
"So you see, dear sister, that you are a beautiful girl. The makeup we used is very minimal. We only used a little face powder, and mascara, and look at the results. With a nice hairdo and proper clothes, you look very pretty. So pretty in fact, that any guy would be proud to take you on a date."
"But I don't want to date boys. I don't even want to look like this."
"Yes, well sis, the alternative is be my sister until mom and dad say you have had enough. So what is it going to be, a summer and school as a girl, or go to summer camp with me as my sister? It is your choice. Either way, you are stuck as a girl at least for the summer."
"I will go to camp."
"Good, but also, for the next two weeks, dear, you will not hide in this house. We plan to take you shopping for a new wardrobe from the skin out. Your boy clothes will be packed away until you get back from camp. So you will go shopping with us, you will go out to eat with us, you will go to movies with your sister, but with a male date she will arrange for you. You will go out and hang with your friends if you wish. I am sure that from what Sharon has said, that they already think you are a girl, so there wouldn't be any problems. Is that understood, young lady?"
This was news to me, I mean, this is my first year in high school, and everyone thinks I'm a girl. That is just unreal. I mean, I haven't given them any reason to think I was. Why would they think that? Maybe hanging around with the crowd at White Tower would prove interesting. We will see. So anyway, I was told to go and do what I normally would do on a day like this. It was sunny out and the temperature was seventy one degrees, so I said I would go to the White Tower and hang with the crowd. Sharon winked at me, and said she would be by later to see if I needed any help. Sharon gave me a handbag that I could carry on my shoulder or across my arm. I decided the shoulder would be best, since all the girls had shoulder bags. I made sure my school ID was in my purse, and mom had put in some makeup, a few sanitary pads, and a little money to get something while I was there.
I went downstairs and gave daddy a hug and whispered in his ear; 'you have no idea what you have done'. Then I left for the White Tower on the corner of thirteenth and Mitchell streets. I took the route eighty to Mitchell street, and then the route fifty four to eleventh and Mitchell. I walked the one block to the restaurant. White Tower was owned by the same company as White Castle but was just called a different name here.
When I walked in Marie smiled and said it was about time I shed that tomboy image. Marie had been working at this White Tower since she graduated from South Division four years earlier. She was maybe five foot, five inches and had sun yellow blonde hair. The only other employee there was Irene, and she was the manager for two White Towers. This one and the one on Wells street. It seemed she was at this one most of the time.
My parents had called me Rachel just before I left the house. So I figured I would make an entrance with that name. Andy Prichard came over and started his "cool" talk as he called it.
"Say baby, I knew you'd come around sooner or later."
"Andrew Prichard, you just don't turn me on. Sorry, but you will have to go down to fifth and Wisconsin for a date."
"Oh baby, that hurts. I just wanted to buy you a burger."
"For your information, Andrew, I didn't come in here for a burger, I came in here to talk to my friends, and you aren't one of them."
"Oh baby, please. Let me buy you a burger."
"Save it, Andrew. You don't impress me with your "cool" talk as you call it, and you are not God's gift to women. By the way, my name isn't baby, it's Rachel."
"Well okay, Rach, let me buy you a burger and get to know you a little better."
"Get away from me creep."
"Hey Andy, are you bothering this girl?"
"Hey Doug. No, I was just asking her if I could buy her a burger."
"What did she say?"
"She said no."
"Then why are you still bothering her?"
"Well, I, uhm, just ..."
"I thought so. Leave her alone."
"Yeah, uhm, okay Doug."
I went over by where Joanne and the girls were sitting, and asked if I could sit down. They made a place for me, and I ordered a coke and fries.
"I heard you tell Andy your name is really Rachel?"
"Yes, Lou, it is." Louise Stark was five foot, four inches tall and had fiery red hair. But she was as gentle as a lamb. Her sky blue eyes sparkled when she smiled. She never liked her name, so she told us all to call her Lou.
"Well, then I'm confused. Why have the teachers been calling you Roger?"
"That is a good question, one they have never answered, even when I asked them. But I am sure that when school starts again they will have it corrected."
"Well, I guess, but it is still a mystery why they would call a girl by a boy's name. Well, never mind, you're here and that is what counts. Okay, so tell us why you were always coming to school like a tomboy. I mean, it is one thing to act like a tomboy, but to have a boy's haircut and dress like a boy is kinda carrying it a bit too far. Don't you think?"
"Yeah, you should have seen my parents when I came down this morning. They thought I was somebody else. My mom didn't recognize me at first, and my dad is so clueless most of the time."
"Yeah, I know, my dad is clueless all the time." We all giggled.
"Anyway Lou, mom told me to go and enjoy myself because I would just be underfoot at the house. So, here I am."
"Ta-da." We giggled more because Lou was being funny.
"What are your plans for the summer, Rachel?"
"I'm going to summer camp at the Camp of the Willows. My sister Sharon is going to be a junior counselor there."
"That sounds more fun than what I will have. My dad has to tour his company's plants all over the country this summer, to make sure they're operating on schedule. I have to go with."
"Why don't you see if your parents can get you in at camp? It is a lot of fun there." I thougt it was anyway, even though I had never been there.
"When does camp start?"
"July first, and they still have openings from what my sister said."
"I will talk to them, because I don't need to be going from town to town looking at paper plants. Besides then my parents will know where I am at so they won't worry."
"I will be in Cabin 3 I was told, or cabin Bambi, as my sister said, because it has a deer above the door."
"Where is this camp located?"
"Right here in Michigan, Lou. It is in the U.P."
"I will have dad check and see. I will let you know if I can get in."
"That would be great, then we can do things together. I was told my cabin was full with me being the last. But maybe you can get a cabin near me."
"I will let you know what my parents say tomorrow. Maybe getting me out of their hair for a summer they won't be so stressed."
"Who knows, Lou. Hey what do you want to do today?"
"I don't know, can't sit here forever."
"Maybe we can." We both giggled.
"Hey why don't we go down Mitchell street and do a little window shopping?"
"Sounds great, we could leave the guys here and they won't even know we're gone."
"For sure, because all they're interested in is talking about girls and cars."
We stood up to leave when Lou's boyfriend Ken Wilde asked where she was going. She said she was going to the ladies room, and he said okay. I thought that was so funny. We went outside and started walking down Mitchell street. We looked in the windows of the bridal shoppes, and we went in a few smaller stores, and we looked around. We ended up at Goldman's department store on the corner of South 10th and West Mitchell Streets. They had a lot of good things in this store, they even still sold penny candy. We looked around, and by the time we were done, we had been gone from the White Tower almost three hours. So we went back. When we walked in, Ken was the first to say something.
"I thought you said you were going to the ladies room."
"I did, at Goldman's because this one was being used."
"Oh, sorry." We just giggled. He was so easy to handle.
We sat at the counter because the booth we were in was taken. Irene was making her last rounds, and counting the money before going to the Mitchell State Bank just a few blocks down the street. As soon as Irene left, we started breathing a little better.
See Irene was the manager, and she had red hair and a temper to match and the will to use it too. And she did, often. That is why whenever she was there, we behaved ourselves, and when she told us we had to leave, because this wasn't a hang out, we left. That was because we didn't want to get Marie in trouble. But when she left with the bank bag, that meant that her next stop was Wells street and we could breathe a little better, because after Wells street, she went home.
I sipped my Sprite, and picked at my fries which the girls helped me eat. After we were finished nibbling, we all said we had to get home for dinner. We said we would meet back here tomorrow, and then we left for home.
Continued in chapter two ... Sharon and Rachel bond.
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