Mr. Pedanski says that digging holes is supposed to build character.
Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing a famous ball player’s shoes. They actually fell on his head. It was an accident, but he was given the option of jail or a juvenile rehabilitation camp.
The judge said that there was an opening at Camp Green Lake, and he suggested that the discipline of the camp might improve Stanley's character. It was either that or jail. (Ch. 6)
So off to Camp Green Lake Stanley went. He soon learned that there was no lake, nothing was green, and it certainly wasn’t a camp. The boys were given shovels and forced to dig holes all day in the desert. Mr. Pedanski, the “counselor,” tells them that digging holes is good for them.
What are we supposed to be looking for?" Stanley asked him.
"You're not looking for anything. You're digging to build character. It's just if you find anything, the Warden would like to know about it." (Ch. 7)
The boys have to dig a hole as deep and as wide as the shovel every day. Stanley finds it very hard to dig at first. He thinks his shovel is defective. It is really that he hasn't done manual labor before.
The fact that if they find anything they are supposed to tell the warden gives Stanley a hint that they actually are looking for something. When he finds a fossil, no one is interested. When he finds a tube, actually an old lipstick tube with the initials K.B., they are very interested. They move the search to where Stanley says he found it.
It turns out that the warden is a descendent of K.B. She is not interested in the boys. She is just looking for the lost buried treasure of Kissin’ Kate Barlow. Eventually, Stanley runs away from the camp but comes back in the middle of the night to dig where he actually found the tube. He finds the treasure, just in time to be released from the camp.