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The packing list for Impact was in our church bulletin the last Sunday on April, printed on a half-sheet of bright yellow paper and stuffed between a pink flier announcing a canned food drive, and a notice from the women’s league that Saturday’s canasta game had been canceled. My sister Naomi, who had been scanning the bulletin for any scrap of information about summer camp since our parents signed us up months ago, found it first. She squealed happily and did a little jumping dance, right there in the sanctuary. A couple of the blue-haired ladies who sat in the back and spent the sermons alternately sleeping and opening the loudest hard candy wrappers known to man, looked up at us and frowned.
The confusion on their faces was plain. They looked from Naomi to me and back again, apparently unable to believe that Naomi was the one making such an unholy ruckus. Then they flipped their bulletins open and found the yellow sheet of paper. The scanned it with their huge coke-bottle glasses perched on the ends of their noses. Then they all smiled and nodded at one another.
Naomi, the golden twin, was excited about church camp. That was all right. If there was a list somewhere of acceptable reason for getting carried away in church, Impact was probably on there, right underneath new brothers and sisters in Christ. Besides, if it wasn’t all right, Naomi would sort it out with Jesus. They two of them were down like a flat tire.
“Did you see?” Naomi said, thrusting the paper in my face. “It’s finally here!”
“I saw,” I said, taking her by the arm and steering her out of the way of the people streaming into the sanctuary from their Sunday School classes. “You know it’s probably the same list as every other year.”
“But we’re counselors this year, Ruth.”
“We’re junior counselors.”
Naomi frowned at me. “I promised Mom and Dad you were going to take Impact seriously this summer.”
I laughed and stuffed the bulletin into my bible, right beside the fruits of the spirit bookmark (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness) Naomi had given me for our seventh birthday. “Exactly how seriously is summer camp meant to be taken?”
“We’re counselors this year,” she said again, as though I could forget. Like she hadn’t been telling me this nine or ten times a day for the past six months. If Leviticus hadn’t specifically prohibited her from it she might have had it tattooed on her forearm so she could thrust it in my face whenever the situation dictated. “The kids there are going to be looking up to us. We could influence their walks, Ruth. That’s a serious thing.”
“I think we’re going to be more likely to influence whether or not they pee in the lake.”
Naomi scowled and jerked her arm out of mine. “Don’t ruin this for me,” she said. “You know I’m really excited about this.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry.” I pulled Naomi into a quick hug and buried my face in her fluffy blond hair. I hated when she was mad at me, and not just because she was the undisputed queen of the freeze out. “Forgive me?”
She sighed and stepped out of the circle of my arms. She waved the packing list in my face “Are you going to take camp seriously?”
I wanted to tell her I wasn’t even going to take packing for camp seriously, but there wasn’t any point.