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The Proud, the Free... the Chicopee!
Kylie Carson climbed on the camp bus and took a seat in a row by herself. She was excited about her first summer at sleepaway camp, but also nervous. She'd never been away from home for six weeks.
"You'll love Camp Chicopee," her dad insisted. "Your old man went there a few years back, and I had a blast!"
"A few years?" Her mom chuckled. "Try thirty years ago!"
"Who's counting?" her father replied. "Besides, I looked at the website and everything looks exactly the same. Right down to the giant rooster sculpture on the front lawn."
He turned to Kylie and patted her on the back. "Just be your smiley Kylie self, and you'll make tons of new friends."
It hadn't been easy for Kylie to make friends at Blakely Elementary when she was a new student in third grade. What she did make easily were enemies, namely one Meredith Mitchell who still couldn't stand her. But now, two years later, she had three fabulous BFFs: Lexi Poole, Jenna Medina, and Sadie Harris. Together, they'd formed Peace, Love, and Cupcakes, a cupcake club that had turned into a booming baking business. She was sad to leave the girls behind for the summer, but the club's advisor, Juliette Dubois, thought it would be good for all the girls to take some time off, relax, and regroup.
So while Lexi went to NYC to study art, Jenna went to Ecuador to visit her grandma, and Sadie headed to basketball camp in North Carolina, Kylie was on her way to Camp Chicopee in Massachusetts.
"Is this seat taken?" a voice interrupted her thoughts. A girl with strawberry blond hair pulled back in two loose braids smiled at her. "If I don't sit in the front of the bus, I get carsick."
Kylie wrinkled her nose. "You won't puke on me, will you?"
The girl shook her head. "Nah. I only puke at midnight when there's a full moon..."
Kylie giggled. "Kind of like a werewolf without the hair and claws?"
The girl raised the sleeve on her hoodie. "Yup. Fur-free...for now!" She gave an evil, mad-scientist chuckle and settled into the seat next to Kylie.
"I'm Delaney Noonan," the girl said. Kylie glanced out the window. A mom and dad were holding up a sign that read, "We love you, Delaney! XOXO!"
"I guess those are your parents," Kylie said, pointing. "The ones in the Camp Chicopee baseball hats?"
Delaney covered her eyes with her hand. "So embarrassing!"
"Not any more than mine!" Kylie motioned at her parents who were waving wildly at the bus window and blowing kisses. Her dad was wearing his old Chicopee T-shirt that he had dug out of a trunk in the attic. Instead of white, it was now a strange yellow-brown, but you could still see the rooster mascot and the camp slogan, "Proud, Free, Chicopee!" across the chest. "I'm Kylie, by the way," she said.
"Nice to meet you, Kylie By-the-Way," Delaney joked. "That's an interesting last name."
Kylie rolled her eyes. Delaney reminded her of her friend Jenna. She was always making jokes.
"What cabin are you in?" Delaney asked. "I'm in G2."
"G2? Me too!" Kylie answered. "Cool!"
That was how their friendship began.
Delaney remembered how she and Kylie had talked all the way on the two-hour bus ride to camp. They had so much in common! Delaney love, love, loved vampire movies-especially Twilight and Dracula. The spookier, the better! And Kylie knew even more about them than she did.
"Did you know that there have been more than two hundred movies made with Dracula in them?" she asked Delaney.
"Wow. That's a ton!" Delaney gasped. "Have you seen them all?"
Kylie thought hard. "Well, not all-but a lot. I'm checking them off as I go along."
"And did you know there are about a gazillion songs with monster names in the title?" Delaney pointed out. "I'm not even counting Lady Gaga's album. I'm talking about ‘Monster Mash,' ‘Werewolves of London,' ‘Zombie Dance'..."
Kylie was wowed. "I don't think I've ever met anyone who could name monster music," she said.
"And I don't think I ever met anyone who knew how to make fake blood out of corn syrup!" Delaney replied.
"Oh, I am a master at it," Kylie bragged. "What's really cool is how you can make it taste good so you can use it to fill Halloween cupcakes. You take a bite and the blood oozes out."
Delaney made a face. "Oh, that is disgusting. I have got to try it!" They both laughed.
They decided that at the first marshmallow roast, when everyone gathered around the campfire at night to tell ghost stories, their vampire tale would be the best and the creepiest in all of Camp Chicopee.