The bus ground to a halt in front of a small, one-story brick building that looked like it was older than
the dirt it was built on. A hastily painted sign on the front window read “Everywhere Travel”.
The bus driver opened the door and stood up. “Okay, folks, please exit the bus in an orderly
fashion. No pushing, no shoving, no causing a ruckus.”
“Wait a minute. What are you trying to pull?” Georgia Velasco stood up and glared at the driver. “My
parents paid good money for me to have a good summer at camp and you’re dumping us off at a
warehouse for the summer?”
“Wrong, your grandparents paid for you and your brother to go to camp to keep you out of trouble for
the summer.” The driver peered at Georgia over his glasses and waited for a response.
The whole bus was silent. No one was sure what Georgia would do. She and her brother had beaten
up kids a lot bigger than the bus driver for saying less than that. However, all Georgia could manage
to do was stand there with her mouth open.
“Thought so.” The bus driver pointed to two kids in the front row by the door and said, “You first. Let’s
go. Line up by the glass door of the building.”
No one else said a word as all of the children filed off the bus and lined up in front of the tiny brick
building. The driver pulled all of the suitcases out of the storage space under the bus and lined it up
along the sidewalk. “Don’t worry about your bags, someone will carry them in right quick. For now, go
ahead and go in. I’ll be right behind you.”
Andrea, who was used to being the last all the time, watched from the back of the line as the
campers went into the building. When it was her turn to go in, Andrea could hardly believe her eyes.
The building looked much different on the inside than it did from the outside. For starters, despite its
small, square, squatty appearance from the street, the inside was round and looked as big as the city
library. She figured this must be an optical illusion done with mirrors.
It was difficult to tell north from south and east from west as the campers gathered in the middle of
the room because the curved walls had no beginning and no end. The walls made no corners and
had no flat surfaces. She wasn’t the only one who was shocked. None of the children said a word
while they waited for the bus driver to come in and give them instructions.
Andrea turned in a circle taking it all in. There were doors along the walls every couple of feet. She
wondered if the doors were actually wallpaper. They certainly couldn’t lead to any other rooms. The
building simply wasn’t that big.
There was very little furniture in the room. A few chairs were stationed around the perimeter and
several filing cabinets were stashed along the walls between some of the fake doors. By far, the
largest piece of furniture in the room was a large, wooden desk that looked like it could have
belonged to her great-great-great-great-great grandfather. It was covered with stacks of file folders, a
phone, a computer monitor and several pens and pencils.
Andrea turned to peer out the large plate-glass front window, wondering if she could slip out and run
home. The bus driver had finished setting out the last of the suitcases and was closing up doors of
the storage bays. He wiped his brow with a handkerchief before coming into the building. A swath of
warm air blew across her arms as he opened the door and came in.
“Alrighty kids. Let’s get this show on the road.” He walked around the huddle of children to the desk
and started searching for something among the piles of papers. “Hmmmm. I know that bell’s around
here somewhere. Ah, here it is.”
He picked up a small brass bell and gave it a quick shake. Almost immediately, a very petite woman
with bright red hair popped out from under the desk as if she had been sleeping and unaware there
was a room full of people. “Oh! Hi! I didn’t hear you come in. Welcome to Everywhere Travel.”
“Hi Fern. I’ve got twenty here for the mountains.” The bus driver handed the woman a clipboard with
several papers on it. She thumbed through them quickly and smiled at the children.
“Good morning,” she said to the group. Andrea had never seen anyone quite like Fern. She was no
taller than any of the children and twice as wide. Her bright green eyes were only out shone by her
short, vibrant red hair that made her head look as if it were on fire. Light brown freckles dusted her
nose and cheeks, making it look like she had fairy powder on her face. “Is everyone ready for an
Some kids nodded, some mumbled “sure” or “yes,” but most just stood in place staring at the funny
little woman who looked too happy to be real.
“Good, let me get your backpacks.” Fern turned quickly and walked to one of the doors behind and
to the left of the desk. Andrea was stunned to see that it was a real door with a working handle and
everything. Fern grasped the handle, turned it and pushed. A cold wind whipped through the office,
blowing some of the papers off the desk. Small snowflakes fluttered out of the doorway and swirled
around the room. Fern slammed the door shut with a bashful grin.
“Oops. Wrong one.” She walked one door to the right. Andrea flinched as Fern open the door.
Nothing strange happened this time. Fern went in to dark closet for a moment and then came out with
a cardboard box about the size of a computer monitor. Since there was no room on the desk, she
pulled up a chair and placed the box on the seat. “There now, if I can have everyone line up
alphabetically by last name please, this will go much quicker.”
Andrea walked directly to the back of the room, knowing that everyone would line up on front of her.
With the last name of Zimmerman, she was always last. There was a bit of commotion as the rest of
the children compared last names and sorted themselves out.
During the commotion, another door on the far side of the room opened. A crack of thunder and a
bolt of lightening announced the arrival of a pirate-like visitor who entered the room with a splash –
literally. A wave of water came crashing down over his head as he stepped over the threshold and
tromped over to Fern’s desk. He had left the door ajar and Andrea’s jaw dropped at what she saw.
Just beyond the doorway a huge sailing ship was bobbing right outside the building. Andrea could
see heavy rain falling from rolling black clouds that rumbled in the distance over a rough sea.
Fern’s perpetually cheerful smile drooped just a little as she saw the water dripping from the man’s
big, floppy black hat, long leather coat and knee-high boots. “Jack, we weren’t expecting your group
back for another two weeks.”
“Well if you don’t do something about this weather, I might drop everyone off right now. There’s not a
single one of ‘em that aint sea sick.” Thunder rumbled in the background like an exclamation point.
“I’ll talk to the boss and see what I can do, okay?” She swiped her hand across a puddle on the top
of one of the files on the desk, scattering little droplets of water onto the floor. “Just remember,
everything happens for a reason. Patience is a virtue.”
“Blah, blah, blah,” Jack grumbled and headed for the door. Just as he was about to step through, a
streak of color flashed through the door over his head. “Hey, get back here you coward. Don’t you
mutiny on me or I’ll have you roasted and served for dinner.”
At that, the streak of color slowed down enough for the children to see what it was. A parrot, his
feathers a riot of red, green, yellow and blue, extended his wings and soared around the room in a
“C’mon, Rascal,” he made a scooping motion in the air toward the door. “Let’s get back to it.”
The parrot squawked loudly before exiting the room. Jack took a giant step over the door jam to step
back onto the violently rocking boat and slammed the door behind him.
“Now then, where were we?” Fern grabbed the clipboard and squinted at the name on the top page
as if nothing unusual had just happened. She called, “Susan Ackler?”
“Here.” A girl, who looked older than Andrea, raised her hand.
Fern reached into the box, pulled out a navy blue backpack and handed it to Susan who looked
visibly shaken by what had just taken place. “If you’ll just wait by the door I’ll be right with you.”
Susan looked around with wide eyes.
“Well, girl, don’t just stand there. I’ve got nineteen other kids to deal with.”
Susan looked at Fern and, in a sheepish voice, asked, “Which door.”
“So sorry, dear,” Fern laughed. “Right this way.”
Fern led her to yet another door and returned to the cardboard box.
To Andrea’s amazement, Fern pulled another backpack out of the box. She didn’t understand how
that could be. The box barely looked big enough to hold one backpack, let alone two or three.
Fern looked at the clipboard again. “Kyle Dombrowski.”
Kyle stepped forward, grabbed his backpack and stood next to Susan Ackler. Fern repeated this three
more times until there were five children standing by the door.
“That’ll about do it for the first batch,” she said to no one in particular. Fern walked over to the five
children and smiled. “The backpacks I’ve given you contain everything you need to make your
summer a great learning experience.”
Andrea saw Kyle’s shoulders slump as he whispered, “I knew it. This is probably some tutoring
camp for stupid kids.”
All the children giggled, because even though he whispered, they could hear every word.
Fern cleared her throat loudly to regain their attention. “As I was saying…you’ll need everything in
your backpacks for the duration of the summer. However, please do not open them until you’re told to
do so, okay?”
Without waiting for an answer, she opened the door to reveal what looked like an empty closet. The
children stared at the small empty space.
“Well?” Fern said impatiently. “In you go.”
The children looked mildly alarmed as they filed into the room. Fern shut the door on their surprised
faces. When she opened the door a second later. The closet was empty.
Andrea Zimmerman expected to endure another boring summer at home,
until she goes to Camp Everywhere, a mystical 40-day camp where
anything can happen....and does!
This teen adventure is just begging to be published and shared with a
wide audience. Please enjoy this short excerpt from my newest project.