Photography As Narrative

The Little Boy and his Lanyard

It's another sunny summer in Santa Cruz, California and the jolly team of Resident Assistants are back to take on  another crew of smarty pants tweens and teens. Jack returns for the third consecutive year along with rookie staff members Joe, Alex, Tanya and Dylan.

Today is the first day of activities and Jack and Alex teamed up (as is the tradition of the program, 2 staff members to an assignment) to take on the most popular field activity: ultimate frisbee. 

Ultimate Frisbee is a success. Students are having the time of their lives as the sun is shining over the field, sitting atop a beautiful hill overlooking the bay. The time is now 5:15 and Jack & Alex must wrap up the game and round the kids up for dinner at 6. As they proceed to do a headcount, they notice one of the students is missing their lanyard. 

Jack gently asks, "Where is your lanyard, kiddo?"

He nervously respond, "I'm not sure. I remember it being on my neck. It must've fell somewhere on the field during ultimate."

He and Jack began to scan the field together while Alex and the rest of the gang waited patiently on the sideline. Luckily, the students' lanyards are pink and easily seen, very distinguishable from staff lanyards. They continue searching. 

Jack: "Hey guys! Let's play a game. It's called....Find the lanyard...NOW!"

The kids on the sideline were not interested at all. There faces read as uninterested and bodies fatigued, but that was only true for all but three: the mighty, ever-so-fabulous trio -- Kelly, Alesandara, Toni; they were inseparable and hardly ever leave each other's side. 

They all scan the field in different parts. 5 minutes pass and Kelly screams, "Found it!" 

Jack deeply exhales and round the kiddos up for dinner. He turns to Alex, in the most comedic voice, saying "Let's get this show on the road...onward and upward." While walking up the hill towards the cafeteria, the winning team decided to stop for a selfie 'photo-op.' Jack stops to take the photo for the girls to help move them along the road as quickly as possible. 


Walking to dinner with a group of enthusiastic youth is one the most challenging things ever. Jack and Alex are pros at this point of the game. Their strategy is to take walking paths that are super cool, nature like and away from traffic. This day would be their lucky day. While walking, the group ran into a deer. Some of the kids freaked out. Some pulled out their phones. Some were just stuck, mouth agape in awe, and trying to make out what was in front of them. 

"Look, it's a deer!" exclaimed the little kiddo that lost his lanyard earlier on the field, "I want to play it with it."

Trying his hardest to the gain the attention of the deer, he takes his lanyard off of his neck and start to swing it in circular motion. Not only is he violating camp rules and community standards, but he's taunting the deer. Consequently, the deer closely approached the little boy, coming in closer--as he continue to swing the lanyard--and scaring the little boy causing him to drop the lanyard. That was last of it. The deer pranced off with the lanyard in its mouth. Tragedy!

Jack is very frustrated at this point. He had to take the little boy to the office to fill out an incident report while the others continued on to dinner with Alex. Additionally, Jack is very hungry and thinking about the 2 hour span to get dinner and how food goes really fast.

He asks, again, "Why can't you keep your lanyard around your neck. You are now inconveniencing me and my time. That is not okay!"

Little boy responds, "I'm sorry, Mr. Jack. I know we're not supposed to take them off, but sometimes mine really itch and it irritate my skin."

Jack: "What a perfect time to tell me that it itch. Why didn't you say something about this earlier."

Little boy: "I was afraid. Am I in trouble?"

Jack fills out report and after taking the little boy to see the nurse, they finally made it to the cafeteria just in time to enjoy their meal and the camp favorite: sesame chicken and rice. Jack leaves the kid and join his coworkers to debrief. They all began to share tidbits about their day and bounced ideas around as to what folks would do during the evening break when the kids returned to class. Some folks said they'd watch a movie while others had more organized work to do for their committee. The upcoming weekend would be the camp's notorious casino night where students get a taste of vegas for one night. Jack is on that committee, later having complicated feelings about it all -- he was torn; He wanted to watch a movie but he also had obligations to his committee and also a report to finish regarding the little boy and his lanyard. 

Jack decided that he'd just watch a movie with Joe, Alex and Dylan. He left Tanya all alone to prepare for the casino night. He decided that watching a movie would help to calm his nerves and that he would go to finish the incident report before the evening post class student pick-up.

The night would end on an anti-climatic note. Jack was able to get the kid a new lanyard and watch a movie but he abandoned his committee obligation.

Tanya yells across the yard to Jack very angry and tired, "Jack! I am very upset with you! Where were you?"

Jack responds, "My apologies Tanya! Blame it on The Little Boy and his Lanyard."