This episode takes place in a new setting away from the town of Odyssey: in a camp run by Mr. Whittaker. Whit has a weird way of naming things. First Whit’s End, then Connie’s dog named Kitty and now Camp What-A-Nut. Donny McCoy happens to have a journal along to narrate his summer vacation and kindly explains the origins of the camp to the audience. He says it is just like Whit’s shop but bigger and with lots more kids. This is ironic because very few kids in this episode actually have speaking roles.
Donny is not as entertaining of a narrator as Jimmy is in Family Vacation, but he does seem more reliable. He is introduced as the short kid, which is a characteristic he shares with Sherman from the previous episode in the album. Donny could have easily been swapped out for Sherman which would have made for a more cohesive album, but presumably Sherman was too busy pursuing his career in radio.
We also see the return of Ned Lewis from VBS Blues and he’s in a similar role from last time. First a VBS teacher, he’s now a camp counsellor. If Connie hadn’t arrived in town Ned would be working at Whit’s End next. As usual, the kids are driving him crazy and he’s unable to contain them. He gets hit in the face with a pillow, a flashlight shines in his eyes, he bumps his head on his bunk bed, he finds pinecones in his sleeping bag and he repeatedly, at least five times, trips into suitcases lying on the cabin floor. It’s no wonder he assumes the worst when Gloria carves a wooden heart with his initials. But as usual, Ned was worrying the whole time for no reason. It’s interesting that is all being told from Donny’s perspective and yet in many of the scenes he describes he isn’t even present.
When Donny complains about people talking about his size Whit gives him some good advice and says that the Lord looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. But Donny isn’t completely convinced and so, after two cliff-hangers involving a bear chasing them and then getting lost in the forest, Donny’s size does play a role. Luckily he is the only one small enough to climb to the top of a tree to see the way back to camp. So I guess outward appearance was important in that case. I’m not sure Donny has learned his lesson that his outward appearance doesn’t matter.
Donny’s rival is Chas, the bully, but we don’t see much interaction between them. Instead, Chas goes after the cook, Marco Dibiasi. Marco is unfazed by Chas’ threats and demands for special treatment. It’s hilarious how frustrated this makes Chas and him getting soaked with water was just a bonus to top it off. Marco is certainly a caricature. Everything from his accent to his confusion with America and the English language was intended to be humorous. But his character does also have complexity. He tells Chas how seeking revenge isn’t a good idea and helps explain to him that people respect your actions, not your possessions. He tells him to love your neighbor as yourself and even convinces him to apologize to Donny. Marco played an important role and he was a lot more interesting to listen to than Donny’s narration. This episode served its purpose of widening the scope of the show and bringing us another perspective on summer vacations that we can all relate to. Overall, this episode gets 5 out of 5 stars.