As part of their punishment, the boys at Camp Green Lake are required to dig a five-foot circular hole each day in order to "build character." Despite the camp's name, there is no beautiful body of water, and the boys are forced to dig on an extremely dry lakebed in the hot sun. The boys start digging early in the morning before the sun rises and the heat becomes unbearable. They are only given several water breaks throughout the day, and the earlier they finish, the more free time they'll have to spend in the wreck room, which consists of broken furniture, a TV, and a pinball machine.
There are several incentives motivating the boys to dig their required five-foot holes. The first incentive is the intrinsic motivation to get out of the hot sun and relax at the camp for the remainder of the day. The second incentive is to receive a day off work. If anyone digs up anything the Warden finds interesting, they are given the rest of the day off.
When Stanley first arrives at the camp, he agrees to give anything he finds to a veteran named X-Ray, who hasn't had a day off since he arrived. Eventually, Stanley digs up a golden lipstick tube that belonged to the infamous Kissin' Kate Barlow. Stanley proceeds to give the strange tube to X-Ray, who takes credit for finding it and receives the rest of the day off.