Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s set up a summer boy’s camp! There’s this great place in the mountains with a river flowing through it. There’s a little mountain lake for canoeing. It will be great!
There will be a bunch of boys, so we’ll need a good set of rules. You know how uncontrollable boys can be. We can work those all out and write them on a big poster so they will be easy to read. Let’s have some fun with the rule list poster. Most camps post their rules in an obvious place, so all the campers can know what’s expected of them, and comply. Let’s do it differently.
Let’s say if the first boy to arrive at camp breaks any of the rules, then the rule list will be posted in a secret place where none of the other boys can find it. That way, if the first boy breaks a rule, every other boy at camp will be unable to keep the rules. This won’t affect our ability to enforce the rules though. Responsibility for keeping the rules is determined by the fact there are rules, not by the fact the camper is able to keep them. Rules are rules! Punishments will be given out the last day of camp.
Now I know this probably all sounds pretty cruel initially. But I think you’ll really like the next part. This is where we give the campers a chance to receive a “pardon” for their rule breaking. We have to give Grace, our camp cook, credit for this one. She came up with the idea. In fact, we call it the “pardon by Grace” rule. Catchy, isn’t it? For a camper to participate in “pardon by Grace”, he has to hear Grace tell him her age. It won’t be good enough for him to find it out. She will have to say it to him. If the camper could find it out on his own, he wouldn’t appreciate how nice Grace is. He would be able to come up with his own way out of his punishment. Another great thing about this is Grace will be able to decide who gets pardoned and who doesn’t. Don’t worry about Grace picking favorites though. She assures us her selection will be entirely random and have nothing to do with anything any boy camper does all week. That way it will be fair.
Imagine how grateful each boy Grace pardons will be! Of course, we expect some complaints from the other boys that they are being treated unfairly by not being chosen. But who are they to complain? It’s our camp! Besides, they will all have broken rules by then, so none of them will have anything to complain about. The “pardon by Grace” rule is something we didn’t have to add, so nobody can complain if they’re left out.
There’s only one problem with our camp plan. If the first boy to arrive at camp doesn’t break any rules, then the other boys may never break any rules either, since they will have access to them. If that happened, Grace would never get the chance to show the boys just how nice she can be. That would be a pity. The boys would really miss out not knowing Grace better. Probably we should just hide the rules from the beginning so even the first boy won’t be able to prevent breaking the rules. We’ll have to work that one out. But wouldn’t it be a great camp? I bet the boys would remember this one for a long time!
1997 Kel Good, used by permission; this publication may be copied freely as long as no alteration is made to the text.