In 1964, in the Catskills, Zelimo, a Russian Jewish lad, goes to a camp for Jewish boys, where he's miserable, picked on and worse. His mother is working at the neighboring girls' camp, so he joins her there. Over the course of the summer, in a coming of age story, he has flashbacks to his childhood in Central Russia and his harrowing escape in 1959. His summer passage is aided by Hector, camp counselor, Cuban Jew, and macho warrior who takes Zelimo under his wing. A knife, a bow, a rowboat, and Zelimo's sketchbook are each part of his passage.