The rest of the week, the kids had a ball, late-night campfires, roasting hot dogs, and making smores. The adults had just as much fun as the kids. There were many photos taken, and all the kids who never swam learned how to swim. The fishing wasn’t as productive as the kids wanted, but they had fun. There was fresh fish every night, but the downside was that the kid who caught the fish could invite a fixed number of kids depending on the fish’s size to eat with him. Mario was a great cook; he could take a fish for four and stretch it to five. This resulted in non-fish dinners for the adults, but all of the kids could have a fish dinner. When I spoke to Mario later, he told me that Tony suspected this might happen, so he had frozen fish loaded into the kitchen’s freezer. The kids never knew, but it was a small white lie. Of course, adding a lot of other vegetables and salads cut down on the size of the fish. On the last full day, we had awards. Tony had blank award certificates. The ladies filled in the name, and I had to sign the certificate. They were simple; Sanctuary on the first line, Achievement Award was on the second line. The third line was where the kid’s name would be written, and the fourth line was the reason for the achievement.
The men met together to make sure each kid got an achievement award for something they accomplished on the trip. There were awards for learning how to swim, for catching fish from the dock and the boat, there were awards for singing, and of course for who could cook the best smores. There were awards for the girls as well as the boys.
At dinner the last night on the island, we had awards night. Upon getting their award, each child got a hug from Tony, Aaron, Murray, and his wife, O’Shea, and his wife. Even the lifeguards, security people, and the ship’s captain got into the festivities by hugging the kids. I gave each kid a hug and a kiss on the head when I gave them their certificate. When all of the certificates were handed out, the adults in concert clapped for them. I noticed some of the kids had tears in their eyes, and even Tony, Aaron, and I had tears. To see these kids having a good time was an achievement; they would remember these days for a long time.
The day we had to leave, there were a few tears in the kids’ eyes until I told them we might do this again next year. The other two boats showed up on time, and we were on our way home. Buses were there for us to get to the airport. Flying home was interesting to see the kids were chatting among themselves now that they were seasoned travelers. Tony and Aaron looked at me, and I knew what they were thinking. I just smiled back.
When we pulled into the back of Sanctuary, I think the kids were ready to go to bed until they smelled the delivered pizza. As they departed, I told them to take their cases and awards to their cocoons and then come down for pizza. I thanked the security people on-site, offering them to stay for pizza.
As Tony, Aaron, and I entered the dining hall, it looked like they finished the second floor, at least from the dining hall floor. I watched as the kids came into the dining hall and noticed the lower ceiling. Before they saw the additional tables and the hall’s rearrangement, they started to ask questions about what was happening and why the lower ceiling. Abe hadn’t installed the stairs, so there was no way for them to investigate above the ceiling. Two boys headed right for me, want to guess who. I heard a chorus, “Dad, what’s happening?”
“Well, Bubba, Pat, I thought we might need a room for hobbies. So while we were gone, I had a room built above the hall so you kids can work on your hobbies.”
“Hobbies, like model building?”
“Yes, but also room for painting pictures, special activities where you work alone rather than in a group. As soon as the room is finished and the stairs are installed, I’ll get some work tables and then the models you all picked out.”
Walking away with smiles on their faces, a few of the other kids asked the same question. I gave them the same answer. I could have made an announcement, but I wanted the kids to feel comfortable coming to me to ask their questions.
I don’t know how many pizzas there were. I noticed a stack behind Mrs. Jenkins and the delivery boy from Aldo’s Pizza. As soon as one box was emptied, another was put in its place. It seemed with 253 kids to be a continuous line. One of the kids at the table I was sitting brought me a piece, “Mrs. Jenkins said this was for you.” I knew it contained anchovies.
One of the kids sitting next to me; “What kind of pizza is that?”
“This pizza has anchovies on it. Do you want to try some Arno?”
“I don’t know. It has a different smell.”
“That’s the anchovies; here is a small piece with a small piece of anchovy on it. If you don’t like it, that’s ok; many people don’t like the taste of the anchovy.” I watched as Arno took the piece. He had a funny expression on his face. I wasn’t sure he’d like it or not. When he had finished eating what I gave him, he looked like he was thinking and then smile. “I do like it. It has a different flavor, but it tastes good.”
Ah, another anchovy lover. Of course, I told him to go and ask Mrs. Jenkins for a piece of my pizza. I watched as he asked Mrs. Jenkins for a piece with anchovies, she looked at me, and I nodded my head yes. As she put a piece on his plate, I watched as he turned around and smiled at me. A thought passed my mind, did he like the piece I gave him because he liked anchovy or to please me. There was no way I’d know the answer to that thought.
When he sat down, he smiled at me while he began to eat his slice of pizza; I smiled back with a wink. One of his friends from another table came over and asked him what kind of pizza he was eating. He proudly explained that it was anchovy, and only people who had a particular taste would enjoy it. I went over to Mrs. Jenkins and brought back two pieces of the anchovy pizza.
I sat down, and when I looked up, there were three more boys in front of me. “Arno said that if we wanted to try the anchovy pizza, we needed to ask you.” I gave each kid a piece with a little bit of anchovy on it and watched as they ate it. The looks on their faces caused me to laugh.
Butch asked me if he could have a piece. I told him to go and ask Mrs. Jenkins for a slice of the anchovy pizza. The next time we have pizza, I’m going to have Mario order more. If this keeps up, I’ll have some real competition. One of the kids came back from Mrs. Jenkins, “Mrs. Jenkins said to tell you there isn’t any more pizza with anchovies.”
“Don’t worry, Drew, the next time we’ll order more with anchovies when we have pizza”
You could tell the kids were getting tired as they began to leave the hall heading for their cocoons. Soon the hall was empty. Aaron, Tony, and I helped clean up the hall and carry stuff back to the cook shack. “It seems the kids had a great time.”
“They did and want to do it again. It was good to see them enjoy themselves without any worries or concerns.”
After everything was put away, and the hall was cleaned, Tony, Aaron, and I headed for our bedrooms. “Guys, before we go up, I want to check the construction on the lot.”
We walked to the fence behind the office building to see what has been done. I was surprised to see the ground floor garages were done and the floor of the first floor almost complete. The first floor walls were framed. And it looked like the elevator pit was dug and a concrete pad laid.
“Guys remind me tomorrow at breakfast to call Abe and get a schedule for the finishing of the floor in the dining hall and the new building on the lot.” Saying good night, I went to my room and went to sleep.