I wish I had a few million bucks. You know what I’d do with it? I’d buy a piece of land, way out in the middle of the country and build bunkhouses for kids who are having rough childhoods. Kids without parents, or kids who are neglected, or orphaned. I would call it Camp Okie Dokie.
Camp Okie Dokie would also be a shelter to many, many stray dogs and rescue animals. We would have the largest collection of cats, dogs, horses, pigs, zebras, and giraffes this side of the Mississippi River.
So you’d have a bunch of kids and dogs and livestock living together in one enormous summer camp. Therefore you would also need lots of Glade plug-ins.
Oh, and the library. Our library would be ridiculously big. Monumentally big. Existentially big. The building itself would be about the size of a medium Midwestern city.
Children would have access to a lot more than just books at this library. With their library cards they would be allowed to rent baseball gloves, Louisville sluggers, bicycles, guitars, water guns, camping gear, and fishing rods.
Fishing will be a big deal at Camp Okie Dokie. There will always be a full-time fishing guide employed by the camp, perpetually on standby, who will take kids fishing whenever the heck they feel like going. Day or night.
There will be 42 ponds on Camp Okie Dokie’s property, which will all be stocked with so much bream, bass and crappie that all you have to do is sneeze, and fish will start jumping into your boat. Kids will be encouraged to catch as many as they can since there will be a fish fry every Friday evening with hushpuppies and four metric tons of cheese grits.
At the fish fry, live music will be provided by musicians who don’t suck.
Nightly, there will be an old movie played on the massive theater screen erected on the lawn near the waterslides and roller coasters. No modern movies will be shown at Camp Okie Dokie. Only Herbie movies, old Disney cartoons, “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” “The Ghost and Mister Chicken,” and reruns of the “Andy Griffith Show.”
There will be free ice cream every weekday from 6 a.m. to midnight. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. See Marge at the front desk about our complimentary insulin pumps.
There will be a lottery every week for residents. Numbers will be drawn on Saturday night. Every kid gets a chance to win, but there’s a catch. He or she will be paid in Werther’s Original caramel candies. And he or she will be required to share with everyone.
Free dental care will be provided at Camp Okie Dokie.
Monday nights will be game night. Game night will consist of all the classics: Battleship, Twister, Monopoly, Scrabble and all other games under the Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers labels except Operation, which is dumb. I never liked Operation. I grew up with an Operation game that had a broken buzzer, so we had to use the honor system.
Baseball will be played nightly among residents at Camp Okie Dokie. The score doesn’t matter. And trophies will be given only to those who wore the best chicken costumes.
At night, there will be a strolling mariachi band walking around to each cabin, singing songs to help get children into the proper mood for sleep. Also we will have an on-staff magician.
There will be free therapy for all kids, so that kids won’t grow up to be afraid of mental-health therapists like I was. Therapy will be fun and exciting and normalized. All our therapists will be dressed like comic superheroes because that’s what many of them are. Kids will learn that “depression” and “anxiety” are not dirty words, but terms just as ordinary as, say, “sprained ankle” and “lower back pain.”
Camp Okie Dokie will also employ adult men who will act as surrogate fathers to fatherless kids, just like I was. These staff members will be trained to teach boys that not every male conversation or activity has to be reduced to a contest of one-upmanship.
The camp will also have a full staff of women who will serve as surrogate mothers, teaching all children that a positive body-image has nothing to do with adipose tissue.
Camp Okie Dokie will have a squadron of old women and old men whose sole task will be to go around acting like grandparents to kids who have never known the privilege of the elderly.
Old women will wear aprons stained in grease and flour. Old men will wear their trousers up to their armpits. These old people will tell all wounded children that they are perfect just the way they are, and that just because bad things happen in life, it doesn’t mean that life itself is bad.
They will tell the kids that just because you don’t feel loved, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t. And they will remind kids that, when you’re older, just because you don’t have a few million bucks in the bank doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to a hurting child and change their life.
Because you can.