Chapter 5 Summary
There are six tents at Camp Green Lake, five for campers and one for counselors. Stanley is assigned to D tent. His counselor is named Mr. Pendanski. Mr. Pendanski, who is not as scary as Mr. Sir, explains that his name is easy to keep in mind if Stanley just remembers the words pen, dance, and key. He tells Stanley that Camp Green Lake has only one rule: “Don’t upset the Warden.”
Mr. Pendanski says he respects Stanley even though Stanley must have made mistakes if he is at Camp Green Lake. Mr. Pendanski explains that having done bad things does not make him a bad kid. Camp Green Lake can turn his life around if Stanley lets it. Stanley does not argue with anything Mr. Pendanski says. He figures there is no point trying to convince anyone that he is innocent.
Just then, two boys arrive. They are dripping with sweat and so filthy that it takes Stanley a moment to realize one of them is White and the other is Black. Mr. Pendanski introduces them to Stanley and makes them shake hands. Inside the tent, X-Ray points out Stanley’s cot, which used to belong to someone named Barf Bag. Stanley is also given a crate in which to store his backpack, towel, and extra clothes.
Soon four other boys arrive. They call themselves Magnet, Armpit, Zigzag, and Zero. Mr. Pendanski, whom the boys call Mom, says that he does not like it when the boys use nicknames. He uses their real names instead. However, Stanley notices that Mr. Pendanski calls the last boy Zero, just as everyone else does. Mr. Pendanski explains that Zero got this name because his head is empty. Zero does not show any reaction.
After Mr. Pendanski leaves, Stanley asks one of the boys where he can fill his canteen. When he does so, he makes the mistake of calling him by his real name, Theodore. The boy grows angry and shoves Stanley to the ground before demanding to be called Armpit instead. Stanley is terrified. Armpit explains where to get water, then he walks away.
Stanley has no idea why somebody would want to be called Armpit, but he reasons that he should not mind being assigned to a cot that used to belong to a boy called Barf Bag. Apparently, at Camp Green Lake, gross names are a sign of respect.