On The Waterfront

It was the best summer of his life, and the darkest days he ever lived.
Danny Novak, at thirteen, was hired to work at Camp Baker for the summer. He’s the youngest boy on staff, but he’s sure he’ll fit right in. He quickly learns, it’s not that easy. When Danny fails the swim test to work on the waterfront, Mark, the bad boy on staff, is forced to teach Danny to swim or get sent home.

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On the Waterfront

At thirteen years old, Danny Novak faced challenges of self-acceptance, abuse, mortality, and death. It was the best summer of his life and the darkest days he ever lived.

When Danny arrives at Camp Baker in June 1978, he is happy to be away. Away from his mom, his bratty little brother, their crappy house, and his sad life. Danny is the youngest boy hired to work as camp staff, but he’s confident he’ll fit in. He quickly learns that he doesn’t.

Mark Colby, at sixteen, has a bad reputation that follows wherever he goes. He works on the waterfront and is the strongest, meanest boy on staff.

On The Waterfront

When Danny fails a swim test to work on the waterfront, a senior staff member forces Mark and Danny to spend every afternoon together. Mark wants nothing to do with the boy who has ruined his summer, but he must teach Danny to swim or get sent home. Home is the last place Mark wants to go.

The other boys on staff are afraid of Mark. Danny fears Mark too, but he’s determined to be on the waterfront crew. If Danny passes the test to work on the waterfront, will the boys accept him as one of them?

On the Waterfront is an engaging tale of two boys. Their struggles for acceptance, understanding, friendship, and learning that suffering can lead to a meaningful life. In the end, genuine friendship is honoring requests and promises kept.

how The story started

About the book

I was twelve years old when this story came to me, the essence of the story, anyway. I was a scout at Camp Baker staying at the Tyee campsite. One morning, I was having some intestinal issues, so I sat in a wooden outhouse on the bluff overlooking Siltcoos lake with the door open, gazing at the water.

The idea was that two boys were swimming the mile swim. An accident occurred and one boy was gravely injured, but before he died, he promised his friend he would always watch over him whenever he swam.

That was it. The story idea rattled around in my mind for the next fifty plus years. Ever since that day I thought about becoming a writer and promised myself that one day I would write this story.

The story is fiction, but many of the episodes in the story are real. If you asked me if I am Danny or Mark, I would have to say some of each.

I was a member of staff at Camp Baker for two summers in 1973 and 1974. I worked in the kitchen and on the waterfront. Brian and Molly were real people, although I don’t remember their real names. I was happy to be away from home and my bratty little brother. There were some gross chores I had at home involving animals, and I worked hard to make and save money.

Working on the waterfront, I swam several mile swims. One day, a storm came up suddenly and a sailboat overturned. The speedboat that went to rescue the sailboat had engine trouble, so I rowed out and pulled both boats back to shore during a violent storm. Those and many other story elements really happened, so you can see I have drawn deeply from the experiences of my youth and the wonderful times I spent at Camp Baker.

The only real boy

The one real boy in the story is Jeff, the engineer. Jeff Adams did amazing things with sticks and twine. He made gates that would open fifty feet away with a pull on a pinecone. He made crossbows with arrows that flew across camp, and more. His ingenuity fascinated me.

One day, while riding in the back seat of a car with friends, an errant bullet fired by Charles Arthur Hein, a prison escapee being chased by the police, hit Jeff in the back of the head.

Jeffery Burton Adams

Jeffery Burton Adams died instantly at sixteen years old. His death was a significant loss for the world. Imagine what that boy would have created if he had lived.

What Readers Are Saying


Jeff Huckins On The Waterfront

Don't miss out on this delightful story. An easy read for all ages with characters that everyone can identify with. The writing is descriptive and also provides tidbits of history. You will laugh and cry in this beautifully written coming of age story.

Cyndi R. On The Waterfront

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Mike McCoy brought the characters to life in this adolescent youth summer camp story. It's a fast read, perfect for a day by the pool or in my case, an evening without AC in Arizona. It totally made me forget my sweaty misery for a few hours. Thanks, Mike! Great job!

Jonathan On The Waterfront

Fun read with lots of situational humor combined with serious content. The stories are raw; the author guides you through the situations making you sense the scene and feel what Danny is experiencing. You are not just told what is happening but rather you become engrossed and committed to the characters experiences. Excellent book!

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