By Christina Dotson
“OK, here’s the plan,” I whispered to Andy and Rachel. The three of us huddled outside the classroom door before school. “We need to get more kids to join Pathfinders, so we’re going to divide and conquer. Rachel, you take the second and third graders. Tell them Pathfinders is a really cool club for big kids, but if they’re good you’ll let them join. I’ll get the fourth and fifth graders by telling them stories of all the fun things we do in Pathfinders—”
“You mean all the fun things we did,” Andy corrected me.
“You’ll never get anywhere with that attitude, soldier!” I barked. “Now your job is to convince the other upper graders.”
“You mean Amy and Rebekah.”
“Yes. I think your best bet is to use guilt. Act like you’re all sad because your best friend moved away.”
“I am sad that my best friend moved away.”
“Yeah, just like that, only sadder. Talk about how much fun you and Todd used to have in Pathfinders and how you want to keep the club alive in his honor.”
“Todd moved to Oregon. He didn’t get lost at sea . . . I don’t think.”
“Now, we don’t have much time,” I went on, “so we have to make every moment count. Are you ready? On three!” I put my hand in the middle of the circle. The other two stared at me.
“Wait—are we soldiers or a football team?” Rachel asked.
“I thought we were a Pathfinder club,” said Andy.
“That’s right,” I agreed, pulling my hand back. “Now let’s go get more members!”
Five minutes later, I was right in the middle of a good Pathfinder camping story when Little Rachel—nicknamed so we wouldn’t confuse her with the older Rachel—interrupted me. “So you’re saying that if I join Pathfinders I get to go camping in the snow and use a stinky outhouse in the middle of the night?”
“Well, if you let me finish the story—”
“Oh, no, I’m convinced! Where do I sign up?”
“You know,” I told Little Rachel, “you were a lot cuter before you learned sarcasm.”
Across the room, Andy was meeting resistance. “I’d like to join your Pathfinder club,” I overheard Rebekah saying. “But we live so far away, I’d probably never be able to make it to the meetings.”
“My best friend moved far away,” said Andy, trying to look dejected.
“Yeah . . .” Rebekah was clearly confused. “And does he make it to the meetings?”
On the other side of the room, Rachel was having troubles of her own trying to convince the two Davids, both second graders, that Pathfinders was for big kids, and therefore cool.
“Usually kids your age aren’t allowed in the club,” she said, “but we’re going to let you in because you’re so special.”
“That’s not what I heard,” said one of the Davids.
“I heard you were desperate,” said the other David. “I heard your club only has three people in it.”
“Four,” Rachel corrected meekly.
“We’ll think about it,” said the first David.
“We’ll get back to you,” said the other.
Rachel plodded toward me, her eyes wide. “Did you hear that?” she whispered. “Desperate? What kind of vocabulary are they teaching on Sesame Street these days?”
By the time school began, we hadn’t convinced a single classmate to join our Pathfinder club. We did, however, have four solid “maybes.”
“Well, troops,” I told my friends, “it’s a start.”
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, February 28!
Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!