I Want to Go Home

Infobox Book
name = I Want To Go Home
author = Gordon Korman
cover_artist = Rodrigo Moreno
(2004 version)
country = Canada flagicon|Canada
language = English|English
series = Non-series
genre = Adventure
publisher = Scholastic Canada Ltd.
release_date = 1981, 2004
media_type = Print (Paperback)
pages = 176
isbn = ISBN 0-439-96915-8

"I Want To go Home" is a novel by Gordon Korman published first in 1981. It was republished, as with most of Korman's older books, in 2004 with a new cover look and updated text. The image of the cabin is courtesy of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and the Cover photo was done by Rodrigo Moreno.The book is dedicated to those who can tell the difference between what's “fun,” and what's fun.

Plot

The novel revolves around its central character, Rudy Miller, who on the advice of the guidance department at his school is sent to an athletic camp (which is situated on an island) against his wishes, and his attempts to escape it. While there, he befriends Mike, who has similar views and attitudes of camp and sports.

During Rudy's stay at camp, he and Mike participate in nothing (saying every time “I don't [anything accompanied with a verb] ”) but arts and crafts, where they are left alone to think and formulate plans of escape. At one point, they attempt to build a dam to flood out the camp, but abandon the project unaware that a beaver then takes up residence to continue its construction. Otherwise, they'll spend the day playing chess.

Most nights are dedicated to escaping the island, but every attempt fails. These constant attempts of escape are eventually noticed by the counselors, who try to stop the two. When Rudy and Mike continue to find ways of escape, they soon end up having to be watched by a counselor everywhere they go, constantly being scrutinized. When the counselors force Rudy and Mike to participate in an extensive sports program one day, they find out that Rudy is extremely proficient at every athletic activity they challenge him with, leaving all the counselors to wonder why Rudy hates sports so much when he virtually wins everything he plays. This leads the head counselor of cabin 3, Ralph Deacon, to challenge Rudy to a game of chess, which Rudy ultimately wins. His reward is being camp director for the day and he runs the counselors ragged in various antics that the other kids take delight in.

Eventually on visiting day (which ends with a flood caused by the dam the beaver built) all the parents are brought to the island for an outdoor buffet and to see how they're kids are doing. In the face of this disaster and Rudy's form letters home, which vary only in the number of days until the end of the camp period, his parents ask if he'd like to come home early. Realizing that all his adventures at the camp have been much more entertaining than staying home could ever be, he adamantly says no. Regardless of his statement, he and Mike continue to try to escape the Island afterwards, only to return voluntarily when they succeed and score themselves a point for a personal tally of attempts. For their part, the counselors, although they still chase the pair, learn to tolerate this considering Rudy is also willing to earn sporting championships between attempts.

Rudy's letter

On Letter writing day, Rudy writes his first letter completely based on his attutude of camp so far:

Dear mom and dad,

This place is terrible. Each day I am subjected to countless atrocities. The food is spoiled and poisonous, and the drinking water is contaminated so there is an outbeak of typhoid. Our cabin collapsed last night in a typhoon, but don't worry. Only one guy got killed.It's not all bad. I do have one friend, named Mike. He's the one who pulled me out of the quicksand. I have to haul garbage everyday, but there aren't too many wild animals at the dump and I've only been bitten twice.Mr. Warden, the director, is very nice, and he has a real social conscience. He hires only desperate criminals as counselors. Our bunk counselor, whose name is Chip, is a reformed axe-murdurer on parole. He has red eyes and yells a lot and keeps an axe under his mattress.Tonight is really going to be fun. Our cabin hasn't been fixed yet, so we get to sleep in trees. I sure hope the typhoon doesn't start up again.I'll be safe and sound so long as Algonkian Island doesn't sink any further. Your son, Rudy PS: If this letter looks messy it's because I'm writing it while been chased by a bear. [I Want To Go Home. Gordon Korman. pg. 23-24. ISBN 0-439-96915-8]

Rudy's escape attempts

Here is a list detailing Rudy and Mike's many escape attempts: (Or attempts in making the Island "unlivable", bringing in conditions that are such that justifies that campers have to vacate the island).

* Attempts to build a dam with hope it will flood the island (this idea is abandoned but the dam is finished by a beaver throughout the novel thus causing a flood on visiting day.)
* Attempts to utilize a motorboat to get to the mainland, however they are stopped by an OPP cruiser who prohibits them from continuing unless they get a bailing bucket which is too late to do.
* Attempts to escape using a sail boat the next night. This fails when both Rudy and Mike fall asleep and the boat gets turned around back to the island by the current.
*Attempts to escape during the night again using a motorboat (with a bailing bucket) but has to return when Chip, their counselor, falls into the lake trying to get after them.
* Attempts to leave during the night once again, but this fails when Chip intercepts them while on they're way out of the cabin
* Attempts to leave after the Head Chef proclaims "Well, if you don't like it, why don't you just take a boat and leave?" They left like this in broad daylight by using the Chef's suggestion as the reason, due to being forced to promise they wouldn't take a boat again without permission. The attempt failed when Chip caught the boat line and ended up being dragged by their boat through the water.
*Attempts to escape by hitching a ride on the supply boat. The counselors quickly figure this out and they catch them.
*Attempts to escape using the beached sailboat again. This is almost successful as they manage to get to the mainland until the counselors catch up with them in a lumber yard.
*Attempts to escape by agreeing to play a soccer game on the mainland against another camp by kicking the ball into the woods and pretending to get it (but really running off with Mike).
*Attempts to escape a girls' camp on the mainland during a dance there. This barely works as Pierre, another counselor, stops them out the door. Nevertheless, all the other counselors think they've escaped and miss them (by inches) sitting with Pierre in the dark, to go on a wild manhunt resulting in many various catastrophes for the other counselors. (Except Pierre).
*Attempts to escape by running a track meet on the mainland (and kept running).

Main characters

Rudy Miller The novel's protagonist, he is a loner who is sent to camp against his wishes by his school's guidance department. Exceptional at virtually everything, he hates everything about camp and anything that has to do with sports. Very literal and logical, he, with his new friend Mike Webster, attempt to escape the island in an effort to return home, an action they both fail at everytime.

Mike Webster Rudy's best friend at camp. He shares much of the same attitude toward camp and sports in particular as Rudy does and laughs at all of Rudy's witty remarks. Consequently, his laugh is very infectious and usually ends up making whole crowds laugh. He was sent to camp for getting high marks in school and considers that if this was his parents' idea of a reward, than he would've probably gotten into a lot more serious trouble if he had failed.

Chip Rudy and Mike's bunk counselor. He easily gets fed up with all of Rudy's constant remarks and escape attempts. He's usually the one who captures or foils Rudy and Mike's escape attempts or is the first one to figure them out. Despite Chip's constant vows to kill the two and fear of sounding like them, he is the only counselor who appears the most worried about them when they get lost and defends Rudy from all the other counselors (including Head Counselor Frank) when they want to force Rudy to play on their teams in order to win camp championships against other camps due to his extreme proficiency.

Harold Greene Rudy and Mike's enemy. Sneering and smart-mouthed, Harold constantly puts down, makes remarks, or makes fun of both Rudy and Mike for not participating in anything and generally being different. Harold refers to both Rudy and Mike as "Nuts." In return, Mike refers to Harold as a "twit." While Rudy was the original target of Harold's snide comments, the verbal fights that ensue between them are really Harold making a comment and Mike standing up for Rudy, while Rudy maintains a neutral presence and simply adds in neutral observations or requests. As a result of Harold's verbal hostility he's a target for Rudy's retaliation (such as filling his shoes with garbage, then spilling it into his pillow when he's ordered to spill the waste out, or removing the wooden slats that support his mattress to build a box, and then capatilizing his resulting fall on top of Adan Willis below him as the catalyst for a major pillow fight (to be blamed on him for "Jumping on Adam for no reason at all").

Frank The Head Counselor. He is in charge of all the counselors and is the first one at the beginning to ask the Warden, "Is there any last problems that we should know about?" foreshadowing the major problem Rudy becomes for the entire staff.

Mr. Warden The Camp Director. His grandfather, Elias Warden, founded the camp thirty years prior to the present in the book and usually states, every time something unusual or not normal happens, "This is Camp Algonkian Island. It was founded thirty-one years ago by my grandfather, Elias Warden, and never once, before today, has [anything not normal happened] ."A middle-aged man with bow legs who apparently doesn't like kids, he strictly lives by the time in which his grandfather was director of the camp, meaning nothing to him can be different now from then. This stern belief usually blinds him from current problems or preventing future problems, and he remains completely oblivious to virtually any of the actions or events that take place in the novel. He's the first to find out that a newcomer to the camp, Rudy Miller, could potentially become a problem, but forgets about that due to kids never being a problem and always loving camp in his grandfather's age. He lives by this one rule: That's the way it was then, that's the way it is now.

Notes

* Totalled, the aproximate number of work details Rudy and Mike get are forty-two and forty-one, respectively. Combined, that's eighty-three days of work detail, or about three months. Rudy and Mike are both enrolled for only the first month of camp, which would make their work details longer than their time at camp.
* When Rudy becomes Camp Director for the day, it is revealed that most of the counselors, while employed at an athletic sports camp, are not really that athletic themselves.
* When Rudy and Mike attempt to escape, they never appear to pack up their baggage or take anything with them. On visiting day, however, they pack everything up in wait for their parents. It is acceptable to assume that their first priority is getting escaping home first, even if it means leaving all of their stuff behind, and on visiting day, with their parents there, they can pack up their stuff knowing that their parents are allowed to take them home "then" and don't have to escape quickly without anything.
* Other than Frank, Rudy and Mike's counselor, Chip, is the only counselor who appears to only have one name. Whether this is a nickname or a camp name is unknown. Frank's last name is never revealed.

Quotes

"We got off work so we could serve our work detail. Isn't camp fun?"

"What do you want me to be when I come out of the lake? "Dry?"

"I didn't think you'd want me to write about how you kicked in the cabin and broke the table and threw spaghetti at Harold Greene and jumped in the lake - twice."

"But last night I asked Mike if I could take a boat and he said yes. So I have permission. And I gave him my permission to come along with me."

"Why don't they just take our food and throw it straight into the garbage? That would eliminate the middle man."

"The food around here is bad enough without having to worry about dirt."

"Never, since the days of our beloved founder, Elias Warden, has a counselor disobeyed the camp director. Shape up, or you don't eat."

"What have you got for us?" "A thousand volleyballs." "You may stick flaming bamboo under my fingernails, but i'll never tell."

"I bet that's my pillow case too." "Ah, you recognized it. Very good."

References


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