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  • Jennifer Z. Major

The quarter.

Author's mother's photo.




Years ago, my brother-let's call him Mr. Clean- and I worked at the most beautiful camp in the history of camps, Keats Island Baptist Camp, on Keats Island, BC. 

Back in those days, before the Interwebs, or cell phones, or glasses so thick that they'd retask satellites if my brother sneezed into the sun, the camp planted a row of rhododendrons along a boring rope fence to beautify the boundary of the official camp property.

Ya see, even though the rope itself was about 3 inches across, and ran for hundreds of feet along the boundary, the fence was jumpable. Unless you were the un-athletic type. Then it was trip-able. 

The Powers That Be At Camp had hard and fast rules about jumping that fence, and the punishment was a solid 25 cents.

One whole quarter. 

Don't laugh! At the time? A chocolate bar cost 10-15 cents!! That fine was hefty! 

So, back to the rhododendrons...those things ain't cheap, but they do form a lovely hedge and they're hardy to the climate of Canada's West Coast. When the rhodos were first planted, they needed a lot of care. During the summer months when the camp operated, that care fell to a highly trained core group of horticulturalists. That's right, the camp staff.  

And not the senior staff, noooo. Rhodo maintenance fell to the younger staff. What many camps call "counselors in training." CITs.

But Keats had a nautical theme, so CITs were called The Crew. 

And unless one was working in the kitchen, Crew duty was outside. And you guessed it, one of the jobs was weeding the rhododendrons.

Somebody got the brilliant idea to use rhodo weeding as a punishment for naughty campers.

First infraction, a quarter.

Second, weeding. 

I'll never forget babysitting one kid who spent more time weeding than doing anything else at camp. I wonder if his parents knew that they paid the camp to let their son spend HOURS pulling weeds? Honestly, he was a super nice kid, who just couldn't control his desire to shove and/or punch his cabin mates. Yes, I vaguely remember him telling me how much he loved Jesus, and loved coming to camp.

My mature 15 year old Crew Member In Charge of Weeding response? "Really? Because you do not show it!" 

He smiled, and kept weeding.

I bet he owns a massively successful landscaping business, and a posh cottage in full view of that rhodo hedge, which is about 10 feet high now. 

Now, because my brother and I both had to deal with that rope fence, and then the hedge, we knew ALL about that quarter. I have a vaporous memory to maybe perhaps chatting with him while he was weeding the fence line, and then maaaaaaybe stepping right over it.

 OR!!??

Maybe it was him stepping over my weeding job??

We'll never know, will we, Mr. Clean??

But, for the last four decades, my highly intelligent, utterly hilarious, and occasionally adequate Scrabble player of a brother have bugged each other over the enormous debt each has accrued to the other.

That's right. 

HE owes ME 25 cents.

Pay up, Mr. Clean.

Ahhh, I love waxing melodic about camp....but I want my money!!


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