Stanley yelnats survival.., p.1
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       Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake, p.1

         Part #1.50 of Holes series by Louis Sachar
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Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake


  1. If I Can Do it, So Can You

  2. How the System Works

  3. Don’t Complain

  Survival Test One

  4. Armpit’s Suggestion

  5. Scorpions

  Survival Test Two

  6. Zigzag’s Tv Guide

  7. Tarantulas (and Other Spiders)

  Survival Test Three

  8. How to Dig a Hole

  9. The Road to Freedom

  Survival Test Four

  10. Rattlesnakes

  11. Twitch

  12. Yellow-Spotted Lizards

  Survival Test Five

  13. X-ray and the B-tent Boys

  Final Survival Test


  Also by Louis Sachar


  If I Can Do it, So Can You

  If you’re reading this book, chances are you’ve been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to the Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility or someplace similar. Maybe you’re innocent – more likely not.

  You’re probably scared. If you’re not scared, you’re in big trouble. Fear keeps you alert. But don’t give in to your fear. You can’t let it cloud your mind. You don’t want to be so overcome with fear that you can’t think straight.

  You probably feel all alone. You are. There are six counselors and thirty-four other campers at Green Lake, but you are still alone. Nobody cares about you. Nobody is interested in making your life better.

  Don’t go looking for friends. You have to let friendships develop very slowly. You don’t know who the other campers are or what crimes they committed.

  The guards, or counselors, as they like to be called, are not there to protect you. They are there to see that the routine is not disturbed. If another camper punches you in the face and breaks your nose, you will get in trouble for having a broken nose.

  Don’t get me wrong. Most of the other boys are not bad guys. In most cases, they just made some bad choices. Maybe they just hung out with the wrong crowd and ended up in a no-win situation. You don’t know, and you don’t ask. If you’re going to survive Camp Green Lake, one of the first things you have to learn is not to ask too many questions.

  From here on in, you cannot afford to make any more bad choices. You can’t even let anyone else tell you what your choices are. You have to figure that out for yourself.

  Look, I’m not a tough guy. In fact, I’m probably the last guy in the world you’d expect to be able to survive Camp Green Lake. My name is Stanley Yelnats. Before I was sent to Camp Green Lake, you might say I was a total loser. (Everyone else said it, why not you?) At school, kids half my size used to pick on me. I had no friends. I was overweight. Everything in life seemed to conspire against me.

  If you want, you can read about what happened to me in a book called Holes. But this is not about me anymore. It’s about you now. And I don’t care how mean and tough you are, remember this: There’s always somebody meaner and tougher than you are. And one of these days, you’re going to find him.

  Even more dangerous than the mean, tough guys are the ones who are crazy. You never know what’s going to set them off or what they’re liable to do. There was a kid in C tent who ripped apart a mattress because somebody put his hat on the bed.

  It’s not about being tough. It’s about being smart. It’s about staying alert. If I can do it, so can you.


  How the System Works

  Camp Green Lake is located in a giant dried-up lake bed deep in the heart of Texas. When I was there, it hadn’t rained for over a hundred years. It rained the day I was released, but it is still very hot and very dry.

  The camp closed shortly after I left, and I thought that was the end of it. But then Holes was published, and lots of law enforcement officials and politicians read it. They all thought, “Wow, what a great idea!” And they reopened Camp Green Lake. That is why I decided to write this survival guide.

  When I was at Camp Green Lake, it was only for boys. Now there is a sister camp about a hundred miles away exclusively for girls. While I can only tell you about Camp Green Lake, I hope my lessons and survival tips will help you at whichever institution you are attending.

  The Warden is still the boss of Camp Green Lake. She owns all the land. She speaks in a gentle voice, but don’t be fooled. She’s as mean as a rattlesnake. She comes from what was once a very prominent and wealthy family. The family fortune was wiped out during the hundred-year drought, but she still has a few connections in the state legislature in Austin. She used those connections to establish the Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility. Its mission was to turn bad boys into good boys through hard work and discipline. The State pays her to run the facility.

  The idea was this: Digging holes builds character. But here’s the first thing you need to understand. The Warden doesn’t care about your character. It’s just about digging holes. She’s obsessed. Every day, you will dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter. As long as you dig your hole, the Warden will leave you alone.

  Mr. Sir is the head counselor. He seems like he belongs in prison, instead of being in charge of one. Mr. Pendanski is the counselor of D tent, where I stayed. He will try to be your friend. He’s not. In many ways, he’s worse than Mr. Sir. At least Mr. Sir doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. Mr. Sir acts tough, and Mr. Pendanski pretends to be understanding, but really they both have the same objective: to keep everyone in line; to keep everyone digging their holes.

  You will be fed three meals a day, because you need energy to dig holes. Water will be brought out to the holes every two hours. Why? So you can keep digging. You are given time off for relaxation so your body will have the strength to dig another hole.

  Don’t expect too much in the way of food or water, or entertainment. Remember that any money the Warden doesn’t have to spend on you, she gets to keep for herself.


  Don’t Complain

  What’s the matter? It’s too hot? You’re tired of digging? Your muscles ache? Your hands have blisters? Your feet have blisters? Your blisters have blisters? The shovels are too long? The showers are too short? Your cot is hard and lumpy? The food is hard and lumpy?

  Well, guess what? Everyone else has been there longer than you have. They were sleeping on their hard, lumpy cots, getting up at four-thirty in the morning, and digging five-foot holes under a blazing sun while you were lying on a couch, watching cartoons, and eating Froot Loops. No one wants to hear your complaints. No one likes a whiner.

  After a while your hands will harden. Your muscles will harden. Your head will harden. Your soul will harden.

  Everyone suffers equally. You’re all in this together. Race, skin color, the grades you got at school, whether you were one of the popular kids; none of that matters. You will earn the respect of the others by doing your job without grumbling. No it’s-not-fair’s. No I-don’t-belong-here’s. But don’t go overboard the other way, either. You don’t want to wake up every morning singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

  Survival Test One

  You have finished digging your hole and are returning to the camp compound when you hear a rattling noise. You look down to see a large snake coiled in front of you. Its forked tongue darts in and out between two large fangs as its cold eyes stare at you. You should:

  A: Say, “It isn’t fair. This question comes after section three, and the part on rattlesnakes isn’t until section ten.”

  B: Carefully study the snake, making note of its markings and the shape of its head. Measure its width and length. This is important because when you report it to the proper autho
rities, you will know what you are talking about and won’t sound like a blubbering idiot.

  C: Hit it with your shovel, or, better yet, put down your shovel and fight it bare-handed. After all, you’re the meanest and toughest kid at Camp Green Lake, and no overgrown worm is going to disrespect you!

  D: Pretend it isn’t there and just keep walking as you whistle “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

  E: Try to make friends with the snake, and explain in a soothing voice that you have no intention of harming it. Gently pat its head as you tell it that even though you are a criminal, you have a good heart.

  answer to test one

  A is incorrect. While at Camp Green Lake, you will have to make all kinds of life-or-death decisions, ready or not.

  B is incorrect. There are no proper authorities at Camp Green Lake.

  C is incorrect. There is always someone meaner and tougher than you are.

  D is incorrect. You can pretend the snake isn’t there, but the snake will not pretend you’re not there. You will not survive Camp Green Lake by ignoring danger.

  E is incorrect. This isn’t a Disney movie.

  The correct answer is Q, as in: Quickly, get away from the snake. Walk, don’t run.

  This wasn’t really a test on rattlesnakes. It was a test on making choices. You can’t let anybody else tell you what your choices are. Sometimes they won’t give you the right choice. If you’re going to survive Camp Green Lake, you must always make the right choice, whether it’s given to you or not.

  In fact, sometimes it’s best not to answer anyone’s questions. Zero knew that. He was a kid in D tent who hardly spoke, so a lot of people thought he was stupid. Zero wasn’t stupid. He only spoke when he wanted to say something.

  Do you remember what the police officer said to you when you were arrested? You have the right to remain silent. Most people talk way too much.


  Armpit’s Suggestion

  Mr. Pendanski keeps a suggestion box just outside the office door. A pencil hangs on a string, and there’s a pad of paper. On each sheet of paper is a place to put your name, your tent, and your suggestion.

  “We’re all looking for ways we can improve,” he told us. “You, me, the Warden. We’re all in this together, and if anybody has any ideas that could have a positive effect on our lives, it will be greatly appreciated.”

  Most of the suggestions were what you’d expect, and I can’t repeat them here. Other suggestions just had no chance. “Get pizza delivered for dinner.” Even if pizza didn’t cost too much, the nearest pizza parlor was over a hundred miles away. “Friday-night dances with a Girl Scout camp.” As if parents would let their daughters hang out with us. “Why don’t the counselors dig one day a week, to see what it’s like?” Yeah, right.

  Squid once wrote, “Get a pencil that doesn’t break.” Then he broke the pencil. Somehow, he got caught and had to wash pots and pans for a week.

  A lot of the guys believed that the Warden watched us on hidden cameras, so she might have seen Squid break the pencil. I don’t think so. I don’t think the Warden cares about Mr. Pendanski’s pencil.

  I once made a suggestion. It was a way to save paper. “Get rid of the suggestion box.” I didn’t give my name.

  Magnet once wrote: “How about letting us listen to music while we dig?” He even signed his name. Magnet, D tent. He thought it would be a good idea because the rhythm might help us dig faster, but Mr. Pendanski never even commented on it.

  “He never even reads the suggestions,” X-Ray insisted. “It’s just a way to let the campers blow off steam.”

  But then Armpit came up with a suggestion. You could tell he’d been thinking about it a long time, which surprised me because I’d never realized Armpit thought about much. It had to do with the showers.

  Water was very scarce. It was expensive to bring water into Camp Green Lake. We were allowed only a four-minute shower every day. After four minutes, the shower shut off automatically.

  Those four minutes were the best part of the day. Four minutes of heaven in a day of hell. The water wasn’t artificially heated, but with the sun beating down on it all day, it was just warm enough to be comfortable.

  “I was thinking about putting a suggestion in Mom’s suggestion box,” Armpit said.

  In case you haven’t noticed, we all had nicknames. I was Caveman. Mom was our nickname for Mr. Pendanski.

  It was about eight-thirty at night. We were all lying in our cots, but no one was asleep yet.

  “This I gotta hear,” said Squid.

  “Wouldn’t it better if we could break up our shower time?” asked Armpit.

  “What are you talking about?” asked X-Ray.

  “You waste water when you put on soap,” Armpit said. “What if the water only went for forty-five seconds, then turned off? Just long enough to get you wet all over. Then you could take as much time as you need to get the soap on. Then turn the water back on for three minutes and fifteen seconds.”

  He’d even done the math.

  “So what do you think?” he asked. “It’s still a four-minute shower, so it doesn’t use any more water. But we get to enjoy it for a longer time.”

  I was surprised. It really did make sense.

  For a moment nobody said anything. We just stared at him.

  “You amaze me, Armpit,” X-Ray finally said.

  “Brains, and good looks.”

  Armpit didn’t know if X-Ray was making fun of him.

  “That’s really smart!” said Zigzag.

  “We’d get cleaner, too,” said Squid, “’cause sometimes I don’t have time to get the soap all over me.”

  “Yeah, I’ve noticed,” said Magnet, holding his nose.

  “What do you think, Caveman?” Armpit asked me. He knew I’d give him a straight answer.

  “I think it’s a really great idea, Armpit,” I told him.

  Once he realized we weren’t making fun of him, Armpit beamed a great big smile.

  We all helped Armpit put his suggestion down on paper. There was a lot of discussion on how much time it takes to get wet, and to put soap on, but we decided the simpler, the better. This is what we finally came up with.


  It’s a waste of water to apply soap while the shower water is running. So, instead of a four-minute shower, why not split it up? First, the shower should run for one minute to allow the person to get wet. Then it should turn off for one minute, while the person applies soap. Then back on for three minutes to rinse the soap off. This will use no more water but will allow all campers to get cleaner and smell better.


  D tent

  We all watched Armpit proudly sign his name and drop the suggestion in the box. Three days later I saw Mr. Sir working on the showers.

  The guys from D tent gathered around. X-Ray asked, “Whatcha doin’, Mr. Sir?”

  “Adjusting the mechanism,” Mr. Sir replied. “So that the showers can stop and start.”

  Magnet patted Armpit on the back.

  That evening after dinner, Mr. Pendanski stood up and made an announcement.

  “There will be a change in the shower procedure,” he said. “It is a waste of water to apply soap while the shower is running. Don’t worry. The showers will still last four minutes. But first they will run for one minute to allow you to get wet. Then the shower will shut off and remain off for exactly one minute. During that time you will apply the soap. Then the shower will come back on for the remaining two minutes. This will give you plenty of time to rinse off the soap. Remember, a clean body is a healthy body.”

  I couldn’t believe it. Maybe I hadn’t heard right.

  “Did Mom just say two minutes?” asked Armpit.

  I’d heard correctly. We still had a four-minute shower, but only three minutes of water.

  “Great idea, Armpit,” grumbled Zigzag.

  “Do us all a favor, Armpit,” said X-Ray, “and don’t get any more smart ideas.”

  Squid told
Armpit where to stick his next suggestion, and it wasn’t in the suggestion box.

  They didn’t have to worry. Armpit didn’t get any more ideas. At least, none that he told us.

  The suggestion box isn’t about making your life better. It’s about making the Warden’s life better. Thanks to Armpit’s suggestion, the Warden was able to save water.



  I should warn you. My knowledge of scorpions and the other wildlife at Camp Green Lake is based on my personal observations and is not scientific. I came across two types of scorpions at Camp Green Lake: big ones and little ones. Actually, they came across me.

  Habitat: Scorpions live in shoes, hats, sheets, pillows, and piles of old clothes. It makes you wonder how they survived before people came along. Always check each article of clothing before getting dressed, whether in the tent or after you shower. Always check your bed and pillow before lying down.

  How to recognize a scorpion: They are really ugly. The good thing about scorpions is that they are so ugly, you can’t help jumping back when you see one. But don’t scream. It’s never a good idea to scream at Camp Green Lake.

  The big ones are about four inches long, an inch wide, and a quarter of an inch thick. The little ones are about an inch and a half long, and the rest of their measurements are proportional to that.

  Scorpions have two claws, six very skinny legs, and a segmented tail. They have no face, so it is difficult to tell one scorpion from another.

  The legs: Scorpion legs are extremely skinny legs and are capable of very quick movement, but you don’t have to worry about being chased by a scorpion. They would be very fast runners, but fortunately they’re not smart enough to get their legs to work together. It’s like each leg doesn’t know what the other legs are doing. The legs go in different directions at different speeds, so mostly they just move around in uneven loops.

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