“Buddies for Ben,” Friend, June 2010, 8–9
KJ was excited. It was Monday, but he wasn’t going to school. It was summer vacation and the first day of Cub Scout day camp.
“Look at how many people there are!” Jorge said, pointing at the grassy field that was crowded with Scouts.
Suddenly, Mike said, “Look who decided to show up. Late, as usual.”
KJ looked up to see Ben running toward them. His brown hair was damp and he was sweating by the time he got to the group.
“Hello! Hello! Hello!” Ben said shrilly as he hopped up and down. Ben always seemed to have more energy than his body knew what to do with.
A few of the boys rolled their eyes and turned away. KJ felt a little guilty as he ignored Ben and looked down at his shoes.
By the second day of camp, KJ had shot arrows, identified forest plants, and painted a picture. Now he was sanding wood for a birdhouse. Even though he was having fun, KJ knew that something wasn’t quite right.
The other boys made fun of Ben and never picked him to be on their team. Sure, Ben had trouble remembering things and paying attention, but KJ knew he was a nice kid. But KJ worried that if he started being nice to Ben, the other boys might make fun of him too.
As KJ got ready for bed, he thought about all the times Ben sat alone. After saying his prayers, KJ thought of the words to one of his favorite Primary songs: “Jesus walked away from none. He gave his love to ev’ryone. So I will! I will!”*
The next day when the boys were making crafts, KJ took a deep breath and sat down next to Ben. He knew that Jesus would want him to be nice to Ben, no matter what the other boys thought.
“Hey, look at me!” Ben said loudly. “I’m a slimy creature from the lagoon!” He raised both hands and wiggled his fingers to show that they were covered in glue. With a laugh, Ben wiped a glob of glue on KJ’s arm.
Some of the other boys shook their heads. KJ felt his face turn red, and he knew the boys were watching to see how he would react.
“You’re right about the slimy part, Ben,” KJ said, wiping off the sticky mess with a chuckle. “Are you going to decorate your picture frame with sea creatures? That’d be pretty cool.”
Ben looked at him and a grin spread across his face. “Great idea!” he said.
At the end of craft time, KJ felt good when a few of the other boys said hi to Ben.
Soon the whole group was heading to the water sports area.
“OK, everyone, pick a partner for the water balloon toss!” a camp volunteer said.
“Ben, do you want to be my partner?” KJ asked.
“You bet! You bet!” Ben said, giving KJ a big high five. As they grabbed their water balloons, Jorge wished KJ good luck.
“Good luck to you too, Ben!” Jorge said.
The days passed quickly, and soon it was the last day of camp.
“What was your favorite part of camp?” Dad asked KJ on the way home.
KJ looked down at his Cub Scout manual and thought about the belt loops he had earned. Then he pulled out a picture tucked between the pages of the book. It showed the boys crowded around a table after a soccer game. Every one of them, including Ben, had a huge smile on his face. By the end of the week, almost all of the boys were treating Ben like a friend.
“It was fun to make some new friends,” KJ said with a smile.