Shumer is found by the pool, leaning back on one elbow like some kind of Burt Reynolds, sweating macho in the 100-degree heat as he checks out the rays and collects kisses from the women.
He is 21 and just a shade over five feet tall, wearing a Hawaiian shirt-and-shorts combination with powder blue boxer shorts showing at his thigs, his trademark. Two leis circle his nect, and a straw hat shades a face that, well, as he says, "ain't one of this year's top 10."
"I'm an ugly person," David Shumer says, shooting gnats from the nose that has launched a thousand jokes in the 15 summers he has been coming to White Mountain, nestled among scrub pine and maple at the foot of North Mountain in the Shenandoahs."But I like me that way. If I was a big hunk of a man, I wouldn't be the same."
In many ways David Shumer is Camp White Mountain, a summer Never-Never Land for 270 children aged 6 to 16 and their 60 youthful counselors. Bethesda-born and West Virginia-wisened, Shumer was 6 when he came to this world for the children of the wealthy, frail and frightened and so pathetic that counselors thought him cute.
Bolstered by the attention, he slowly developed the personna they now call "The Shumes," a confident, cocky camp leader who last year dressed in a clown suit to register for the draft at Highview's general store.
But Shumer has grown up. In thefall, he'll be an intern at a Washington accounting firm before completing his last semester at college. "I often lay in bed at night and try to sum up the last 15 years," he says. "When I stop coming here it will be the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life." c
For Camp White Mountain is a comfortable wilderness resort where campers arrive on June from all over the country, their trunks loaded with fashion jeans and pocket video games, their minds tense with the pressures and expectations of affluence.
Fifteen-year-old campers say they are already worried about getting into graduate school. They agree that they need "to get away," sounding more like the parents who spend $2,000 to send them here for eight weeks than children. And the counselors -- some of whom began here as campers -- feel the pressures, too. Like Shumer, they know they will soon leave camp and step onto life's fast track in a flat-out dash toward the success for which they have been groomed.
Tonight, the 11 boys of Cabin No. 1 are setting up for a cookout just beyond the soccer field, between the gynmnasium and the six all-weather tennis courts. Their counselors had proposed a rustic setting on the bank of the Capon River, but the boys want the fire built in front of the cabin. A compromise is struck, and they straggle down to the edge of the woods where they are unloading the food when panic strikes.
"Hey, there's no charcoal or lighter fluid here," says Lenny Zangwell, 15, from Sarasota, Fla. "What do we do now?
"Great. They're always screwing up around here," complains Harry Korotki, 15, the son of a lawyer from Baltimore.
"Shut up, Kororki," says 15-year-old David Schleider, whose father is a caterer in Baltimore. "You're lucky you're not in a concentration camp. You'd be complaining that you wanted Apple Jacks."
A teepee fire that can be lighted without fluid is suggested, and the boys set out for wood. They return with green branches and are sent out again for dry wood. After it is piled and two matches fail to get it started, David, a young weightlifter with biceps nearly the size of his thighs, gets impatient.
"Look, enough of this pioneer stuff," David says and rips up a piece of cardboard box, lights it, piles the wood on top and the meal is under way.
Harry, who describes himself as "one of the more popular, good athletes" back home, says he's not taking the overnight canoe trip with the others.
"What's the matter, Harry, do we have to air condition the canoe for you?" jibes counselor Declan Bolger, whose alternative to summer camp was factory work in his native London.
"I'll bring my fan," counters Harry.
"Yea," says Bolger, "I can see you now, paddling down the river with your fan tied to the front, you hair dryer in the bottom and a 10-mile extension cord trailing behind."
Later that night, after a swim in the pool and milkshakes at the canteen, the boys are back at Cabin No. 1. They sit on bunk beds, with the extension cords that power their fans and portable cassette decks criss-crossing the walls and rafters above them. On the roof, Nike and Adidas tennis shoes have been set out for the night to dry.
The 11 teen-aged boys of Cabin No. 1 -- eight of whom say their parents are divorced or separated -- come to camp for the friendships and the sports, the horseback riding, canoeing, archery and, if they so choose, individual tennis lessons for $25 an hour. They also come, they all agree, "to get away."
At home, there is so much homework and tests and stuff," says Steven Chudnow, a thin 14-year-old whose father is a doctor. "You have to study hard to get into the college or graduate school of your choice. That's important because I want to earn enough money to have fun when I'm older."
"This is a really tough age," says Richard Pachino, 15, the Baltimore boy who is known as the camp's best athlete. "There is so much to learn about: drugs, people, girls."
"Yea," says Steven, from Plantation, Fla. "How do you explain to them that sometimes we still want to be kids?" It's not fun to have to act mature all the time."
"Uncle" Fred Greenberg is the owner of Camp White Mountain, the largest and oldest of three camps that comprise his 600-acre Timber Ridge Camping Reservation.
Greenberg, 51, began working as a counselor about 25 years ago. He was a full-time speech therapist for the Baltimore County school system in those days, a printer's son, who before coming to camp, augmented his yearly salary with summer jobs as a chicken plucker and a ladies' shoe salesman.
Today, he is a silver-haired millionaire with interests in office buildings and a nursing home in Baltimore. His goal: "To give every boy a father, every girl a mother."
Many of the privileged children of Camp White Mountain have it rough, he says. One girl has a mother who is anorexic and a father who just switched businesses. One kid came to camp three days after his brother died in a car accident. Another child's father is serving a three-year jail sentence.
A brother and his sister are in the middle of a custody battle; their father has threatened to kidnap them and take them to Europe. Another brother and sister live with separate parents.
"They don't know who they're going to live with after camp," Greenberg says.
He tells of the mother who called to ask her son whether he would consider gray carpet for his room at home, rather than the beige he had selected before he left for camp.
One father called early one morning to say he was worried that his son wasn't having a good time. He wanted Greenberg and the boy's counselor to call him back -- before nine o'clock when he was scheduled to play golf. One mother recently had her maid call camp to find out if a boy was studying for his bar mitzvah.
"More and more parents are calling," Greenberg says. "They call out of guilt, but you don't have parents calling on Saturday or Sunday. Hardly anybody called over the long Fourth of July weekend. Then on Monday -- boom -- the phone was ringing off the hook."
The camp managers are adults like Uncle Fred, but it is the young counselors who are closet to the children. Most are in their late teens and early 20s and many first came to the security of White Mountain as campers and never left.
Like Shumer. "Without camp," he says, "I wouldn't have made it in the real world. I would probably be a very average 21-year-old who worked in a department store or something."
Shummer feels free in camp. He come to get away from his ledger books and calculators, and the prospect of a blue-pin-stripe life with a Big Eight accounting firm, just like 15-year-old Richard comes to get away from the pressures of "drugs, people, girls." Here, Shummer can still "act like a crazy."
In nearby Winchester, Va., population 23,000, he's gone into record stores and had clerks searching for "David Shumer Live." At the Far East Restaurant, he's frequently walked in and started waiting tables. Once, Shumer stood up in the Camelot, Winchester's only movie theater, and boomed: "This is The Shumes coming at you. Our feature tonight is OMEN II. I hope you enjoy it."
Other counselors feel the same juvenile freedom. On a recent night, with about 100 campers gathered around an old upright piano, 17-year-old counselor Randi Thomas of Baltimore belted out camp songs that date back 10 years.
"Those were the good old days," she says. Next year, Randi will start her pre-medical studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. "I'm scared to death. Everyone looks at me and says, 'I wish you luck.'
"You know," she says, repeating Franklin and Marshall student folklore a college official says is untrue, "they had to put a gate on the water tower there a few years ago because people were jumping off to commit suicide."
Counselor Bruce (Fuzzy) Friedman, a 21-year-old University of Maryland Graduate, begins law school in the fall. Last Saturday, Fuzzy was symbolically bar mitzvahed -- a ceremony that marks a boy's passage to manhood -- under the grove of pine trees near the camp recreation hall. He has spent 13 summers at Camp White Mountain.
Will he return next summer? Like Shumer, like Thomas, like several other counselors who have returned for years, the question brings a long pause, a look of uncertainty. Then Fuzzy Friedman tells the story about "Freddy Baseball."
He was a counselor for three years, a camper for years before that. His sense of humor, his energy, his popularity was legend. He was all set to come back this summer, when he got a job after college graduation and decided not to return.
"The first few days," Fuzzy says, "everybody was talking about Freddy, about how they missed him and loved him and that camp wouldn't be the same without him. But now two weeks have gone by and nobody talks about Freddy anymore, and everything goes on without him like he was never here. That kind of makes you wonder.
"Some people say you should get a job as a law clerk after your first year of law school," Fuzzy says. "I don't know yet. I might come back to camp anyway."