Camp Switchblade


The police met with all the parents, in small groups, and at the end of the week it was decided that the juvenile delinquency problem could only be solved in one way. All the teens were told to pack their bags because they were going to spend three weeks this summer at camp.

The teens, of course, argued and wept. Clothes were thrown. Doors were slammed. Meals cooled on kitchen table tops and were later fished out of refrigerators by sulking teens under cover of darkness, muttering darkly to themselves in the kitchen as cold chicken is finally, resentfully, eaten.

The trees were green and the cabins were drafty. All was in readiness for the town’s teens and here they came, bangs covering their eyes, feet dragging, hands gripping crime paperbacks or romances, cellular phones playing music or pinging with the sounds of video game success, one teen in the back already on the ground, stabbed with a switchblade for showing too much enthusiasm for the wonders the camp had on offer.

The camp counselors have one job: to so encourage delinquency during the weeks at camp so as to brand any such activities permanently un-hip.

Sign-up stations collect names. Every morning, we’re going to get up and pick a free-standing building to burn down as part of Arson Club. Merit badges are available for those who prove their facility with gasoline. Lunch is either fast food or cigarettes and then we’re off to carve our names in things (for those who sign up for Graffiti Team) or sleep the afternoon away with the Recreational Drug Squad. Merit badges are available for those who can forget the most of their personal troubles. Finally, don’t forget to gather at nightfall at the camp’s bonfire, where we’ll be distributing flick knives to those unfortunates who didn’t bring their own, or have already had them stolen. We’ll give a few craft lessons for how to customize one’s knife hilt, how to select a lighter that reflects one’s “true self,” how to roll cigarette boxes into one’s shirt sleeve, and then we’ll break so that teens can disappear into the woods and thin the ranks. Each morning’s decreasing headcount will let us know what sort of progress we’re making.

Every Saturday is a dance party in the rec center. The nurse’s poison cabinet will be unlocked all night for those couples whose parents would never agree to their union. We’ve got Romeo and Juliet costumes in limited supply for those interested, purchased secondhand from the town’s theater troupe, but still in great shape for dancing or for burial.

All teens will be provided with flyers outlining the virtues of unprotected sex. The sooner they get knocked up, the sooner they can move on to the next phase in their life, taking over vacant job roles in town. We still need two new gas station attendants to replace those two boys who got beaten up by a gang in a dispute over the pricing of dried meat sticks. The postal service is hoping to get some new hires from our pool of dangerous teens as well. Since there’s nothing like the need to keep a new baby in diapers to motivate a teen to go straight, we hope that no one at the dance will show any interest in the uncool prophylactics that we keep locked in the Head Administrator’s office.

And as a final note, Camp Counselor Ken would like to remind you teens that the merit badge offered in previous years for “sick burns” has been discontinued, so remarks about Ken’s weird pear-shaped body, his book-centric hobbies, or his fictional girlfriend who lives far away are no longer welcome or rewarded.

Too bad there’s no merit badge for Crying in Public, huh, Ken?

Maybe next year.