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Minutes of the Winter 2002 meeting of the Camp Namanu Elves & Fairies

Gertrude leaned down to retie one of her hiking boots on the front steps of Raker Lodge as the screen door banged behind her. A cloud of table fairies rose around her. They watched together as Hoophoopawalla came out of Uncle Toby's and across the walkway to meet them. The winter sun shone weakly through high clouds. The group walked over the muddy ground to the crossroads where Wawatassi and Humyak stood waiting.

"Hello, everybody," hailed Wawatassi. She and Humyak had just returned from a cruise to Figi, so they were looking relaxed and tanned.

"Are those your pictures from your trip?,'' asked Gertrude, pointing to the envelope Humyak held.

"Yep, and there's a great one of Wawa dancing on the beach with an apple in her mouth," laughed Humyak. "I'll show them to you after the meeting's over. We'd better all get on up there, Mr. Scriggleboggle is waiting for us."

Laughing and talking, they continued up the hill. During the winter, the Giant slept like a bear in hibernation, so they left him snoring peacefully. They would catch him up on the meeting when he awoke in the spring.

Scrig sat beside the warm fire as everyone crowded into his cozy cabin at the top of the Guardian Fir. They admired the view and then settled in for the winter meeting of Elves and Fairies of Namanu United, or EFNU for short.

"Welcome everyone, we have a lot to talk about today," began Mr. Scriggleboggle. "As you all know, for the last several years our reputations have become tarnished by rumors and our very jobs have been threatened. We need to do some creative problem solving and see if we can't work something out with the new boss. I don't think he's a bad guy, he's just never had any dealings with Elves and Fairies before us and probably has some inborn prejudices. Ok, table fairies, let's start with you."

The table fairies all rose and fluttered around a bit until the Head Table Fairy cleared her throat, "Well, we seem to be the victims of vicious rumors. Someone said that after we are squished by elbows in the dining hall that we die and turn into mosquitoes and bite the campers. This is patently false. We all know that when campers squish fairies by putting their elbows on the table, that said fairies are merely flattened temporarily. Rendered unable to fly by this, they have to glide around like Frisbees for a while until they plump out again. It has never been our intention to threaten campers in any way, but merely to help teach them good manners. And anyone who has eaten in Raker lately has got to agree that the campers need better manners! Surely the boss can see this. Tell him we're on his side. And if it's our name that bothers him, we'd be willing to be called Little Table Beings or Table Wee Folk or whatever."

There was a moment or two of silence as Scrig wrote this all down. Then he looked up and said, "Hoophoopawalla, what do you think?"

"As you all know, my job as gatherer of lost hours at Camp Namanu has continued. I store them all in the Den of Shutter Confusion. Back when campers still used the Den as a darkroom, I used to give out the extra time now and then to kids whose pictures weren't quite developed. For many years now, I've vigilantly gathered all the lost time that I could, and then given it out on Friday night, so the evening could go on as long as possible. I know the campers appreciate this. I guess my only problem is that no one ever talks about me or even knows my name. I get depressed about this, and it's hard to get up every morning and go do a job without ever getting any positive feedback." Hoophoopawalla sighed deeply and lapsed into silence.

Scriggleboggle did some more writing, looked sympathetically at Hoop for a moment and then said, "Gertrude, what do you want to tell the boss?"

Gertrude tapped her fingers thoughtfully on the lamp table and said. "They still let me keep my bottle hanging in Raker, but like the Table Fairies that new guy seems to think that I'm threatening to campers. I just want to watch out for everyone and remind them not to eat too fast or too much. With some of the cooks we've had lately, that hasn't been a problem."

Everyone laughed.

"Seriously though," continued Gertrude "I just want campers to know I'm watching out for them. Tell the boss I have only the best of intentions and that I'm willing to work with him, OK?"

"Before we go on, does anyone want some more tea?" asked Mr. Scriggleboggle. He refilled the cups from his antique Russian samovar, a long-ago present from his friend Uncle Toby.

Next, it was Humyak's turn to talk.

"I still get a lot of work in the spring and fall, because the Outdoor School kids have flag ceremonies. But you know me, I'm just a patriotic old guy, and I would love to see a flag ceremony or two each week during the summer. I would promise not to actually pinch anyone, but merely remind them to dress warmly on cold mornings. I didn't really pinch campers anyway, its just a figure of speech, you know, 'pinched by the cold', and has the whole world lost their sense of humor and their imagination and their patriotism, because if they have that's a sad state of affairs now, isn't it!"

Humyak had risen to his feet in excitement during his speech. He huffed a little longer and then Wawatassi said affectionately, "Ah, sit down you old codger, it's my turn now. Hey, I've got as idea," she continued. "We could change Elves and Fairies of Namanu United to Ageless Folk United at Namanu. Then we could say we're just a fun group. Get it, AFUN group?"

There was silence, then a collective groan from all present. This was classic Wawatassi humor.

She laughed and went on, "My job's easy because one way or another people's flashlight batteries go dead eventually. But it is rude to shine your flashlight into someone else's eyes and it hurts their eyes, so what is wrong with asking campers to please not do it? Can't I just be a polite and creative way to remind kids about this? Doesn't the boss know that cultivating a sense of imagination in children is not just a good idea, but an imperative?"

Scrig leaned over his notebook, writing furiously. "OK, we'll let him know how you feel Wawa," he said. "That leaves only myself and the Giant. We all know that the Giant is an old softy and that he has no wish to hurt anyone. I'll speak for him and say he just wants to be a benign reminder to campers to not run too fast down Robin Hill. I'm sure that the new guy will agree that safety is a top priority."

"As for my job, for now it's safe. The younger campers in particular still enjoy hiking up here and putting questions in my mailbox. I do my best to answer them all and I love to peek down and watch kids come get their notes. I hope everyone involved continues to see the value in this exchange unique to Camp Namanu. I still have lots of good years left in me!"

"I'll just say in closing, thank you all for coming up and sharing your thoughts. Personally, I feel that we all need to stand strong in this age of skepticism. We have a good 70 years of belief from old Namanu campers behind us. Never forget that. I'll type this up tonight and send it to the office right away. Meeting adjourned. Next meeting will be in the spring. Humyak, let's pass around those photos!"

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