Chapter 1: First Day at Camp!
1 First Day at Camp!
We miss you already! Hope you’re having the best time ever. Here are a few things we think will make you smile. Can’t wait to hear all about your camp adventures!!!
Comet, Twilight, and Shamrock
Sapphire tossed her long blue braids over her shoulder as she read the note from her very best friends. On the table in front of her was a big package wrapped in crinkled brown paper, waiting to be opened.
But she stopped just before tearing off the paper, her hoof hanging in midair.
It felt like someone—or something!—was watching her. The “ghost” she and her friends had met at Sapphire’s seaside sleepover had turned out to be a friendly narwhal named Ned, but could the cabin at her summer camp be haunted for real?
Sapphire heard a creak and a whisper, and she looked around the small cabin to see if anyone was there. But all she could see were the wide wooden floorboards and walls made of big tree logs. There were signs that her cabinmates had already arrived, like the towel hanging from one of the hooks and the stack of magazines on the table, but she was the only unicorn in the cabin. Smiling at herself, Sapphire shrugged and brushed it off. It’s probably the wind whistling through the trees, she thought. Maybe I’m not used to being in the woods!
Sapphire had just arrived at Camp Explore in the Great Green Forest of Sunshine Springs, which was far from her home by the ocean. Sapphire was used to the sounds of crashing waves and the salty air of the beach. Here the sounds of birds chirping and the smells of pine trees filled the air. It felt like she was in a different world.
Sapphire had wanted to go to Camp Explore because her hero, Amelia Hoofheart, had gone here when she’d been just a filly. Amelia Hoofheart was a famous unicorn explorer known for her brave adventures. Sapphire wanted to be a famous explorer just like her. I might be standing just where Amelia Hoofheart once stood! Sapphire thought. She couldn’t help but do a little happy dance on her hooves.
Amelia Hoofheart had flown a hot-air balloon all over the five kingdoms. She had disappeared on her flight to visit the Arctic Foxes, and no one had seen her, or her hot-air balloon, for more than twenty years. Sapphire always hoped the explorer would turn up with a grand story to tell. And sometimes Sapphire dreamed of being the unicorn to find Amelia Hoofheart. Then she would be a famous explorer and a hero too.
A well-loved copy of Amelia Hoofheart’s autobiography peeked out from Sapphire’s overstuffed bag. The cover was peeling at the corners, and the pages were crinkly and brown. But Sapphire still thought the book was perfect.
She carefully pulled it out and flipped to the first chapter. She read the first lines for the one millionth time.
Camp Explore was the site of my first adventure. My cabinmates and I were kindred spirits and fast friends. Every day we would try something new. We broke swimming records and ran in the relay races. Every day was a new adventure. We loved planning and playing pranks on each other, other campers, and sometimes even the counselors.
One day one of us—we can never remember who—decided to hike to the top of Mount Cliff, so named for its high peaks and rocky terrain. It was said that no camper had made it to the top. We decided to plant our camp flag on the top so everyone would know that Camp Explore had been there first.
We woke up before sunrise, when the rest of the camp was still slumbering. We trekked up the mountainside, helping each other along the way. When we arrived, sweaty and happy, we cheered as we pulled out our flag to plant. But all of a sudden there was a noise from behind us, a small musical voice saying, “Now, just what do you think you’re doing?”
Sapphire knew the story by heart. A fairy had come to explain that lots of creatures traveled through the mountains, and many more called the top of the mountain their home. There wasn’t a flag planted because the mountaintop belonged to everyone. Amelia Hoofheart said that this was when she’d first learned what it meant to be an explorer.
Sapphire loved the story for two reasons.
One, it reminded her of when she’d met Fairy Green. It was at school, at Unicorn University, and she’d helped find the fairy’s lost magical dust. That day Sapphire had discovered her magical ability. It wasn’t like her friends’ magic—she couldn’t fly or turn invisible—but Fairy Green had told her that magic came in many forms, and Sapphire’s magic was her curiosity and good heart.
And two, Sapphire had always loved the phrase “kindred spirits” that Amelia Hoofheart used. Sapphire had never heard the phrase before reading this book, but she figured it meant “unicorns who felt like friends even if you had never met them before.” Her friends back at Unicorn University were kindred spirits, and the four of them had been friends since their very first day at school. And now Sapphire couldn’t wait to meet her cabinmates on her very first day of camp!
Sapphire smiled as she turned back to the package her friends had sent. First she pulled out a big white box tied with a yellow ribbon. The sticker on the box said “Curley’s Confections.” Sapphire knew this must be from Comet, who was spending the summer studying baking with her uncle Curley at his famous bakery right in Celestial City, the capital of Sunshine Springs. He baked cookies for the king and queen! Sapphire opened the box to find a pile of beautiful sugar cookies that almost looked too good to eat. They looked like little yellow stars, with sugar crystals blinking in the sunlight.
Munching on a cookie, next Sapphire pulled out a painting of the Crystal Library, her favorite place at Unicorn University. It looked like a glittering castle and was filled with books on every subject. Sapphire could tell that Twilight had painted this, which made it even more of a treasure.
A pair of big black sunglasses rolled out of some green tissue paper. Sapphire read the note and was surprised to discover that they were from Shamrock. He was always very studious, so she would have expected him to send a book on bugs or stars or rocks. But glamorous sunglasses? She opened his note and read, “Dear Sapphire—Don’t forget to protect your eyes! You’re going to be out on the lake all day swimming and high up in the mountains hiking. It’s important to wear sunglasses. I’ve been reading about this inventor…” The note went on to describe the inventor of sunglasses, but Sapphire put it aside, thinking she would finish it later. She admired the big, dark glasses—and she was happy to find that they looked more like something a movie star would wear than a scientist.
Sapphire hung up Twilight’s painting on the cabin wall and had that weird feeling again. Like she was being watched. She looked around and this time spotted three horns bobbing outside one of the cabin windows. Sapphire had little sisters, so she was used to being spied on. She cleared her throat. “I can see you, you know,” she said, laughing. Maybe her fellow campers were playing a prank on her!
But before Sapphire could find out, she heard a whistle blow. “All campers to the mess hall steps,” a voice boomed over a loudspeaker.
Not wanting to miss out on anything, Sapphire rushed toward the door, forgetting about the horns she’d seen through the window. Seeing Shamrock’s sunglasses on the table, she decided to put them on before heading out, and pushed them over her nose with her hoof.
Other campers smiled at her as she joined the crowd of unicorns in front of the big wooden cabin with a wide front porch. She saw a sign swinging above the doors that read MESS HALL.
Sapphire found a place on the grass where she could see the older unicorns lined up on the porch, as if it were a stage. Sapphire was a little shorter than most unicorns her age, so she stood apart a little, up on the hill so she could see. Most of the counselors were teenagers, and they all looked cool with their colorful lanyards and whistles hanging around their necks. One unicorn wore a baseball hat, one wore a bandanna, and one wore black sunglasses, kind of like Sapphire’s. Sapphire instantly felt cooler and made a mental note to thank Shamrock for thinking of them, even if glamour wasn’t quite what he’d had in mind.
“Welcome to the mess hall! That’s what we call the dining hall here at camp. It’s where we’ll eat all our meals and gather at the start of each day. I know you’ve all met your cabinmates….”
Sapphire realized that all the other campers were standing in groups. Everyone must be standing with their cabinmates, she thought, feeling a little worried. She hadn’t even met her cabinmates yet! Now she was the only one standing alone. Did I arrive too late? Sapphire couldn’t help but feel like she was starting off on the wrong hoof. She hoped she hadn’t already messed up her chances of being the next Amelia Hoofheart.
Sapphire was surprised when the whistle blew once more, announcing the end of the welcome meeting. The counselors dismissed them and said for everyone to go back to their cabins to get unpacked. She had been so busy worrying about doing things wrong that she hadn’t focused on anything the counselor was saying! Sapphire took a deep breath and hoped her cabinmates would be there when she got back. She was determined to make a good first impression.