Nancy Borski scrunches next to one of the disciplinary piles she found in her Waldron Woods back yards. Her book about them is being taught at the Laconia High School. (Laconia Daily Sun/Gail Ober)
Local author’s back yard discovery leads to young adult novel, ‘Disciplinary Piles’
By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Nancy Borski's first book was inspired by clearing brush in her back yard.
Borski, a Laconia High School paraprofessional and author who lives in Waldron Bay on Lake Winnisquam in the Chemung section of town, noticed piles of granite quarry stones. She said some were big piles, some were smaller piles but, regardless of size, the piles of stones were all over her newly cleared land.
"I just didn't have any idea what they could be," she said.
She began researching the area where her home is built and learned it was a former boys camp named Camp Waldron and was run by the Boston Missionary School Society, which owned hundreds of acres on the north side of Lake Winnisquam. The society also operated Camp Andover for girls on the other side of the cove.
Borski said that from what she learned, the summer camps likely began operating just after the turn of the century and stopped sometime in the early 1970s. She said the camps were for poor children from the Boston area and were meant to give them a taste of the outdoors.
"But what were those piles of stones?" she kept asking herself.
She learned they were likely a form of discipline for those students who behaved poorly, at least in the eyes of the counselors of the camps. And she said her research and her own daughters' experiences at camp led her to
imagine children from ages 10 to 16, digging with their hands to find the granite stones and put them in individual piles.
"I've worked with children all my life," she said. "So I came up with a young adult story about camp."
"Disciplinary Piles" took Borski 13 years to research and write. She said worked on it in fits and spurts but was able to come up with the final product earlier this year.
"I could fill a bookcase with all the notes and papers I have," said said with a laugh.
Called "Disciplinary Piles," Borski's coming-of-age story centers around a group of imaginary city boys who attend Camp W, which is somewhere in the woods.
Its protagonist is Kelvin, it's his first summer at the camp, and he is one of the youngest and smallest boys in his cabin.
The entire story is told from Kelvin's point of view, and during the three weeks at camp he and some of his newfound friends, including a rather large older boy named Robert, get into and out of some scrapes, fights, sports and challenges boys at camp usually get into at one point or another.
"Robert is kind of a bully," said Borski, who said the story is based on Kelvin's growing friendship with him and how each relates to each other and the other boys in camp.
One passage in the book from the communal laundry room reads:
While I was in the washroom, three kids from another cabin walked in.
One boy said, "Did you catch sight of that fat, ugly camper with the greasy, black hair today, down at the beach?"
I wasn't sure if the kid they were saying smutty things about was Robert, until they said his name.
"Yeah, probably smells like a swine rolling in the sludge," the other kid said.
"His gut is so big he can't even see his toes," the other boy continued.
They knew I was there and they still continued. I told them I was a friend of Robert's and asked them to stop talking in front of me. They grabbed my clothes and started throwing them around the washroom. My temper was fueled.
I said, "Stop acting like babies."
Kelvin does make a few unwise decisions in his three weeks at camp and at least one of them meant making his own pile.
I had been digging and stacking for what seemed like hours and my pile didn't even come close to the other boys. Counselor Claude looked at me with pitiful eyes because he knew I needed more practice looking for the special quarry rocks. It's not that I couldn't find them, it's just they are buried too deep in the forest's carpet and too heavy for me to pull them out and pick them up.
I had just enough energy to pick up one more rock and toss it on to my insignificant pile, when I looked down into the hole; I noticed two Indian Head pennies faces staring up at me. I dropped to my knees like an archeologist looking for treasure.
Pennies in hand, Kelvin's luck begins to turn, especially when the boys go over to the girls camp for a visit.
At that moment her name was the beautiful name I had ever heard. She had long, blonde hair, pulled back in a braid behind her skinny shoulders. Her eyes were bluer than the sky, and she had freckles all over her nose and cheeks. She was beautiful. I did notice I was definitely taller than her by at least an inch. She stood looking at me as I stood looking at her.
Published in September, not only did her book get some rave reviews, including one from best-selling Christian author J.J. Hebert, but Laconia High School special education teacher Chris Cook is now using "Disciplinary Piles" as an education tool for her class.
"We use it in reading class," said Cook, adding that she has lesson plans for each of the short chapters and that vocabulary and comprehension are her two primary goals.
She said her class, where Borski is a paraprofessional, consists of students from all four high school grades, and the students are enjoying the book a lot.
"These kids know Nancy, so it's been very exciting for them to be reading her book," said said.
Cook said book's vocabulary is "high level," so she picks out the hardest words and the students learn them as part of their vocabulary. She also uses the book by creating comprehension questions about who is who and who did what.
She recalled one chapter in which all the boys learn how to make acorn whistles. That week, Borski brought in some acorn tops to the classroom and they all learned how to make acorn whistles.
Cook also said that by completing and publishing her book, Borski has shown by example how it really pays off when someone who starts a project competes it.
When asked about other uses, Cook said that while she teaches special education, "Disciplinary Piles" would be an appropriate book for middle school teachers and could also be used by them as a local history lesson.
"We are all so proud of Nancy," she said.
This plaque is in Waldron Woods in the old Camp Waldron. It's not known exactly who William Belton was, but he was clearly an important part of the camp on Lake Winnisquam. (Courtesy photo)
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 1447