The guard leads Stanley out of the bus into an air-conditioned building. There, Stanley meets the tattooed, sunflower seed eating Mr. Sir. The bus driver, the guard and Mr. Sir have sodas. Stanley hopes there will be one for him. No such luck. Mr. Sir is stern and seems fond of pointing out to Stanley that Camp Green Lake is not for Girl Scouts. He explains that Stanley will have two sets of orange clothing, a T-shirt and a jumpsuit that will be laundered, alternately, every three days. Stanley is also given a hat with a cloth flap for neck protection. Mr. Sir describes the routine of having breakfast at 4:30 a.m., then going into the desert to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across, every day. He laughingly points out to Stanley that there are no guard towers or fences, only the fatal heat of the desert to prevent escape. Then, mockingly, Mr. Sir tells Stanley to get used to being thirsty, as that is how it will be for the next eighteen months.
Notes: Stanley’s life will be hard at Camp Green Lake but Stanley is soft, as evidenced by the fact that he actually feels sorry for the guard and the bus driver who have to endure the scorching trip to Camp Green Lake and back. Now Stanley faces the cruel, strict authority of Mr. Sir, and the menacing environment of the desert. In addition to the curse of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, both man and nature are against Stanley.
Stanley is assigned to D tent. There he meets Mr. Pendanski, his counselor. Mr. Pendanski is not as threatening as Mr. Sir. He seems to have the good intention of genuinely helping the boys at Camp Green Lake. As the other boys from D tent return, tired and dirty from digging their holes, Mr. Pendanski introduces them to Stanley. The boys like to be called by unseemly nicknames, Armpit, Squid, X-Ray, Magnet, Zigzag and Zero, but Mr. Pendanski refers to them by their real names. That is, all except Zero, who Mr. Pendanski says is a zero and has “nothing inside his head.” The counselor either does not realize how cruel his comment is or else really believes it is true. The boys refer to Mr. Pendanski as “mom.”
Stanley is assigned to a cot formerly occupied by a boy called Barf Bag who Mr. Pendanski explains is in the hospital and will not be returning. As the counselor and the other boys leave the tent, Stanley asks Theodore where to get water. Theodore turns on Stanley threateningly, throws Stanley to the ground and insists on being called Armpit. He tells Stanley that there is a spigot in the shower stall. After Armpit leaves, Stanley thinks that if Armpit is so proud of that name, maybe the nicknames are terms of respect, and it will not be so bad to sleep on a cot that belonged to a Barf Bag.
Notes: The Yelnats hopefulness resurfaces in this chapter as Stanley is given a place that will be his home for the next year and a half. Mr. Pendanski is a sharp contrast to the stern Mr. Sir and seems to deserve his nickname, “mom.” However, his comment about Zero tells us that Mr. Pendanski has the potential to be mean spirited.