Sep 12, 2012

Girls and Camping

by Kami Cornwall

{In a feeble attempt to make up for my complete lack of a post last time, I'm going to give you a longer post about my first year of "girls' camp" from the "olden days" as my kids call it. Hope you like it!}

My first year of girl's camp came the summer of '85. Our site was located deep within Idaho's Rocky Mountains. I was the youngest in our group of girls and incredibly nervous. 

At one of the meetings they announced there was a new fun activity that would be going on all week; each of us had a “mascot” which could be stolen by another group and held for ransom. 

We had some pretty sneaky girls in our group who had already stolen a neighboring group's mascot so we established a “guard” in our group to stay behind whenever possible. Our mascot looked like a scarecrow. 

Evening came and the whole camp was crowded into the lodge for an evening of skits and lame songs.
“I said a boom-chicka-boom!” The girl would shout.
“I said a boom-chicka-boom!” The crowd would respond in a deafening noise.

I could tell we were almost done now. The final prayer was said and I bolted out toward our cabin. Our mascot had not been protected that evening and I wanted to make sure I was there before anyone tried to steal our mascot. I shut off my flashlight and made my way in the black of night.

It was so much darker in a forest at night than anywhere else. My father taught all of us kids how to track different types of animals whenever we went camping, and impressed upon us the importance of relying on all of our senses. I smiled in the dark and walked slower. I wondered how silent I could be. Quieter. Quieter.

I heard someone rustling near the front of the cabin. Oh, man! If one of the girls was stealing our mascot I was going to have to take her by surprise and wrestle her down to the ground. I slowed and tensed my muscles, ready to chase if she took off in a run. My heart was beating out of my chest.

The noise stopped.
I stopped.
I was so close. I could tell she must be right in front of me. I could still hear her moving slowly across the forest floor. I crouched down and decided to flip on my flashlight to temporarily blind her.

Whoa! The eyes before me glowed in reflection from my flashlight. This was no girl at all. A dog? Yes. My mind raced. Not just any dog. Grey markings, strong legs, thinner than a Husky.
My eyes flickered between the wolf and the garbage can.

RUN! My mind was screaming at me. Would it chase me? Would it attack? It had been nosing through the garbage can for a late night snack and it definitely wasn't expecting me. We both stood there frozen. The wolf took action first - darting into the dark forest. I watched it disappear in the opposite direction and then I turned back toward the lodge and ran as fast as my legs could carry me.

I laughed in a kind of hysteria as I ran to my leader. I couldn't tell her what had happened. I couldn't stop laughing. This was no laughing matter! Why was I laughing? Oh, I had to calm down. I caught my breath.

“You'll never believe what just happened!” I practically shouted mid gasps. My leader gave me an oddly interested look and shook her head. “A wolf!” I gushed. “There was a wolf at our cabin! I thought it was someone trying to steal our mascot but it was a wolf pilfering our garbage! I flashed the light right in its eyes! We were almost nose to nose!” My leader clearly thought I was exaggerating and blandly replied, “Oh I'm sure it wasn't a real wolf. It was probably a husky dog or maybe a German Shepherd belonging to one of the  local camp owners.”

“No.” I pushed. “My dad taught us about wolves and how they look. I've seen lots of them. There's still a few packs up here in the Rockies.”

“I'm sure there aren't any wolves nearby.” The Leader coolly replied. I was so disappointed. She didn't seem to believe me. My exciting adventure had turned into a bland dog-sighting.

Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap!
“What's that?” One of the girls in our cabin asked worriedly.

“Nothing. Go to sleep.” An authoritative voice replied.
Flap, flap, flap!
“What is that?” Another girl asked louder. A deep sigh came from a leader, a flashlight clicked on, and a moth the size of an eagle flew toward the light. I pulled my head into my sleeping bag like a turtle into his shell and held the top closed tight. All the rest of the women in our cabin screamed.
And screamed.

They started hopping around, waving their pillows and clothes around to shoo the spawn of Mothra out the door. Their shrieks of terror could probably be heard for miles. Women from the neighboring cabin came running over at the commotion.

“What is it? What's going on? Is everyone alright?” One woman asked frantically as she threw open the door. Mothra had left the room and was soaring high into the forest canopy for a quieter evening. The girls all settled down after a bit of carrying on about “did you see the SIZE of that thing?” and “I could hear it's big fat wings flapping right next to my head! What if it had LANDED on me!?” 

Everyone settled back down to sleep and it got quiet. Forests were so perfectly silent at night. And then I could hear them. The melodic chorus of a pack of wolves on the other side of the river calling to one another. I smiled and wondered if my doubting leader heard it too. 

“What's that?” a small girl whispered with worry.

“Wolves.” I responded with the slightest bit of punch to it. “There are wolves in these woods. They'll most likely stay on the other side of the river. They're probably as afraid of us as we are of them. But there are wolves. I kinda like the sound.” I said finally with a smirk.

My leader murmered lightly, “Okay, yeah, that does sound like a pack of wolves.”

“Wolves?!” another girl shrieked.

“Oh, don't worry.” The leader responded in a frustrated tone. “They're not like you see in the movies. They're not coming to get us. Just calling to each other as they move along. Now everyone go to sleep!” 
 And we did.


  1. I'm rolling. Your leader should have listened to you and what a terrific story.

  2. That is a great story! I love it!

    We had a bear stick his nose into our tent once. We banged our mess kits together and yelled and screamed and one girl started singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and another threw up all over her sleeping bag.

    The leaders told us we imagined it all...and the other wards made fun of us. They tied a stuffed bear to the flag pole and raised it to the top and told us not to worry because the bear was "up there."

    Later, while hiking, I couldn't help smiling when I noticed that a bear trap had been set up outside of camp. At least someone believed us!


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