#LiteraryFiction: Happy Campers
by David E. Shaolian
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am an experienced high school English teacher. I am an alumnus of Tel Aviv University (Overseas Student Program), Carleton University, and the University of Windsor. Happy Campers, my debut novel, was inspired by my experience as camp photographer at one camp, issues of alcohol and drug abuse at overnight camps generally, and classic works of literature. I live in Toronto with my wife and two children.
Imagine being secluded in the wilderness, in an unfamiliar environment, with individuals half your age, whose core values and lifestyle are diametrically opposed to your own. How is one to react if a deluge of inappropriate behaviour, creating a highly perilous environment, rages, uncontrolled, due to ineffective leadership? What if your concerns about said conduct go unheard? And what if some are outwardly antagonistic to anyone threatening the perpetuation of the hedonistic status quo?
These are the issues faced by Simon Green, a high school English teacher and photography enthusiast, who enters this environment as the new photographer for Camp Black Pines, an overnight camp attended by campers from mostly wealthy families in one of the most prestigious cottage areas in Canada. Following a thorny period in his life, Simon accepts the position, attempting to escape his woes by immersing himself in his passion for photography. However, the natural beauty of this locale masks weighty issues: a prevalence of an ‘anything goes’ attitude concerning widespread drinking, illicit drug consumption, and promiscuous sexual activity among staff, eclipsing concern for the safety and well-being of the children attending the camp. It's a volatile recipe for disaster, where anything can happen at any moment.
How long will this situation persist before everything boils over and disaster strikes? Will Simon, an innate procrastinator with a commitment phobia, act altruistically, or will his reluctant nature prove an impediment? And how would such a situation impact on him and others?
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