Elves and Fairies of Namanu
Early one morning in June, Brian the Camp Director walked up Robin Hill and turned right, heading for the Guardian Fir,
his thoughts a mixture of uncertainty and anticipation. Would Mr. Skriggleboggle answer his letter? Would the Elves
and Fairies of Namanu accept his invitation to a meeting at the Loft? He arrived at the base of the tallest tree in
Camp Namanu and reached into the mailbox. It felt empty -- no, wait, there was one folded piece of paper inside.
He pulled it out and stared down at the outside of the note where 'Brian the Boss' was written in old-fashioned
script. He opened it and read:
On behalf of the Elves and Fairies of Namanu, I accept your invitation.
We will see you at twilight.
As evening drew nearer, Brian began pacing nervously on the Loft porch. What did fairies like to eat? Were the
benches on the porch too tall for elves? He heaved a sigh and noticed that the shadows had grown tall across the
meadow. He heard the whisper of footsteps on the path and then around the corner came the most unusual assortment
of beings he had ever seen. They walked and fluttered their way onto the porch. Brian realized that his mouth was
hanging open. "Welcome", he squeaked. He swallowed twice. "Uh, welcome", he repeated in a lower voice, "Please
come in and sit down."
Everyone sat on the benches or lit gently on the porch railings. Brian offered bloom juice all around, in small
paper cups for the elves and in thimbles for the fairies, while stealing glances at Mr. Skriggleboggle. There was
a bit of a mist floating about the elf and as Brian handed him his drink he could smell a hint of woodsmoke. His
clothes looked like soft flannel -- or was it brown and green moss? His tall boots looked like some kind of leather
-- or was it tree bark? His skin was wrinkled, but his eyes were ageless and merry.
"Well," said Skrig, "I guess you want to meet us all and hear about what we do here at Camp Namanu."
Brian could only nod his head speechlessly.
"I'll start with myself. You may know that my good friend Uncle Toby was a writer and a traveler. He brought
me to life in one of his books and then took me on his adventures all over the world. When he grew old, he moved
to Oregon and brought me here to Camp Namanu. The campers loved to sit around the campfire at night and listen
to his wonderful stories. He built a little house for me at the top of the Guardian Fir where I still live today.
Campers can come up and leave questions about Camp Namanu in my mailbox and I will do my best to answer them by
the next day." There was a brief silence, then Brian picked up a tray of tiny chocolate chip cookies and passed
Mr. Skriggleboggle took a bite and then said, "I'll let Gertrude tell her story next," and looked up at a wood
fairy sitting on the back of the bench. She was wearing hiking boots and a brightly colored scarf around her neck.
Her wings were thin and fuzzy brown, like a moth's.
"I used to live out in the woods," she began. "The old Raker Lodge at Namanu had a ceiling with open beams.
During the war years, my friend Dolly disliked the powdered scrambled eggs so much that she would douse them with
Worcestershire Sauce every morning at breakfast. Then she would stow the bottle in the rafters until the next day.
When the bottle was empty she left it up there, where I found it and thought it would make a good home. I've lived
in it ever since, and I watch over all the campers in the dining hall as they eat to make sure they don't eat too
much or too fast. I watch the counselors and see if they are teaching good manners to their kids."
Next to Gertrude was a fluttering crowd of tiny fairies with gossamer wings. One of them flew over and settled
on Brian's shoulder. He fought off an urge to sneeze. "I'm the Head Table Fairy," came a small musical voice.
"All of us table fairies live on the edges of the tables in Raker Lodge in order to remind the campers to have
good manners and keep their elbows off the table." She flew back to the group of table fairies as Brian nodded
"If I may interrupt for a minute," said Mr. Skriggleboggle, "We'd just like to say how glad we are that you're
the boss now. You're doing a great job."
Brian, who had never received a compliment from an elf before, said, "Why, thank you Mr. Skriggleboggle."
Sitting quietly in a corner was a pensive-looking elf holding a small woven basket. He cleared his throat and
began speaking. "My name is Hoophoopawalla and I live in Uncle Toby's Story House. My job at camp is to gather
all the lost hours each week and store them in the Den of Shutter Confusion. I usually give them back out on Friday
night, so that the evening can go on as long as possible. I love to watch skits and listen to the campers sing in
Next to Hoophoopawalla sat a mischievous looking fairy with curly brown hair and sparkling eyes. "Hi Brian," she
laughed, "My name is Wawatassi and I'm the flashlight fairy. I try to remind everyone at Camp Namanu to not shine
their flashlights in other people's eyes. If campers are careful about this, I'll make their batteries last as long
as I can. My job takes me all over camp and even up to the Ranch. I love to see the campers having fun and making
new friends at Namanu."
As the strange assembly talked, darkness had fallen over Camp Namanu, and they all listened to the song of the
crickets for a moment. Wawatassi motioned to an old elf sitting beside her on the bench. "This is Humyak. He's
been here forever, or at least since they put up the first flagpole in the meadow in 1924." She smiled at him
affectionately and said, "Your turn, Humyak."
Humyak sat up very straight and turned toward Brian in a dignified manner. "I'm from the old school, you know,
and I spend most of my time at the top of the flagpole. I like to see the flag go up in the morning and down every
evening. I like to hear the bugle blowing. I try to remind campers to keep a sweatshirt handy because mornings and
evenings can be a little cold at times here at Camp Namanu. Uncle Toby was a great friend of mine and I could
always spot him at flag raising by the red gypsy bandana that he wore on his head."
Humyak sat back and Brian looked around the assortment of elves and fairies on his porch. He offered everyone
more bloom juice as Mr. Skriggleboggle said, "We're almost finished with our introductions. I told the Giant I
would wake him up when it was his turn."
Skrig walked over to the porch railing and began to call out, "Giant, hey, Mr. Underhill, time to wake up please."
Brian moved to stand next to Mr. Skrig to watch. He heard the rumble of shifting earth and all the frogs in the
pond went suddenly silent. Searching the darkness, he saw a huge figure coming toward him. The Giant looked as
old as the hills; in fact he looked like the hills, all gray and brown and dusty. The Giant stooped down carefully
and peered into the porch. As bits of dirt spattered the railing, the crowd of table fairies rose hastily and flew
to the opposite end.
"Sorry," he said in a deep gravelly voice. He looked at Brian. "Hello, my name is Mr. Underhill, but most people
just call me the Giant. I have lived under Robin Hill for as long as I can remember. I'm getting mighty old, and
what I like to do best is sleep. Robin Hill is steep in places, so I like to remind campers not to run down the
hill, because I want them to be safe. I also want to tell everyone at Camp Namanu to tread gently and respect the
forest,” ...he interrupted himself with a giant yawn, "Nice to meet you Brian, I think I'll head back to bed."
With that, he lumbered back up the hill and disappeared into the darkness.
There was silence, then a single brave frog began to croak, then two more, then all the crickets and frogs joined
in the symphony again.
Mr. Skriggleboggle turned to Brian and said, "Now you've met us all. If you look carefully, you might catch a
glimpse or two of us this summer at camp doing our jobs." With that, all the elves and fairies said their
good-byes and walked or flew off into the night. Last to leave was Skrig. "Thank you,” said Brian, "It was an
honor to meet you."
Mr. Skriggleboggle smiled, ...then he winked, ...then he was gone, ...leaving only the smell of woodsmoke
lingering in the air.