Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flashback Friday: An alarming experience

Sometimes I think of random stories from the past that would be fun to tell here on the blog, but I can't think of a way to introduce them as anything other than random stories from the past. So I'm thinking of instituting a Flashback Friday so that at least they can be cohesive random stories from the past. For the next few Fridays, I think the theme will be camping. I can't guarantee that there will always be a theme, or that I'll always be able to post them on Fridays, but here goes.

Also, a disclaimer: many of these stories will feature old friends, or maybe even newer ones, many of whom are readers of this blog. I apologize in advance if I get any details wrong. I'll always tell the story how I remember it, and if you remember it differently, tough. Feel free to correct me (or add to my memories) in the comments section.

One more disclaimer: I'm going to post photos, and some of you are in them with me, and we don't always look good. Maybe I should ask for permission first, but you know what? I don't know that I would get it, and I really want to post these photos. So let me know if you really, really don't want a photo of your 14-year-old self on my blog and I'll see if I can blur your face or something.

First, some background: For those of you who are not young Mormon women, Girls' Camp is a week-long, girls-only camping trip for youth ages 12ish to 18ish. The younger girls are divided into groups of 6 or 8 and then looked after by the older girls, who are counselors, usually in pairs. In the place and time that I went to Girls' Camp, we slept in rustic cabins featuring spider-infested bunks, at a large private (? - or at least rentable) campground. However, the specific location and accommodation style of Girls' Camp varies around the country

I have a lot of, um, interesting memories from Girls' Camp. I'll be completely up front here and admit that I didn't always enjoy the experience. In fact, I attended as few years as possible, basically the absolute minimum while still being a good sport about it. Though the "good sport" part is debatable. But I believe I'm in the minority on that point - most of my friends loved Girls' Camp and went back year after year and were eventually given general leadership positions over the whole thing.

Anyway. Girls' Camp, June 1996: our freshman year of high school had finished just a week or two earlier, and we were officially Counselors in Training, or "K.I.T.s" (don't ask about the spelling). This meant we got to go on a cool overnight hike in the woods and had just a few counselors over our entire age group instead of in our individual cabins.

Most of my memories of that year revolve around writing things on our backs in sunscreen and then lying out by the pool, losing my watch and then having a fellow camper "find" it and return it to me a few days later, being annoyed by the fact that "soccer" was misspelled as "soccor" on one of the camp signs, and singing the song "We Love You [so-and-so], Oh Yes We Do" many more times than was reasonable.

Some of my fellow KITs. Erin's head is blocking the offending "O."

But one morning, very, very early in the morning, the smoke detector in our cabin went off. Being the sleepy teenagers we were, I think a few of us lifted up our heads enough to see that the cabin was not, in fact, on fire. And then we went back to sleep.

Or at least we tried to. That dang fire alarm just kept going off, and off, and off, and soon, nobody was getting any rest. But neither was anybody doing anything about it, besides putting pillows over our heads in an attempt to drown out the noise.

And then, in a moment that made her my personal hero, my fellow camper Jennifer actually got out of bed and decided to take matters into her own hands. She somehow got ahold of a large stick (tree limb is probably a better word - it was big) and, without any explanation or warning to the rest of us, promptly started bashing away at the smoke detector.

When I heard the racket, I peeked out from under my pillow to see what was going on. There was Jennifer, beating that smoke detector for all she was worth. Gradually, the high-pitched whine of the alarm descended and faded until it was silent. If I had bothered to look for it, I would probably have seen the smoke alarm crumpled in a heap of mangled plastic on the floor of the cabin.

And then you know what? We all went back to sleep. I think even Jennifer went back to bed. And we woke up a couple of hours later like nothing had happened. Certainly nothing like a teenaged girl destroying our cabin's main fire safety feature. Everything was back to normal.

14-year-old me with my hero, Jennifer.

Except for the part where we were chased by a bear in the middle of the night. But that's a story for another time.


Britney said...

I really like your Flashback Friday idea. Before you know it, you'll have a great personal history on file, and we'll all get to reminisce, too.

Ah, the good ol' days...

Didn't we get lost in the woods one year at camp, only to discover a nasty stinging nettle plant?

Liz Johnson said...

I LOVE THAT PICTURE. Because I know four of the people in it, and I didn't go to high school with you. For some reason, I feel like a celebrity-by-association right now. Ha.

I also was not a girls' camp fan. To be fair, we had to dig our own latrines and use cow-pies for firewood. And my underwear always went strangely missing. Ugh.

JackJen said...


Jenn is TOTALLY a bash-the-smoke-detector-dead kind of girl...

...and if not THAT, she's most DEFINITELY an I'll-figure-out-how-to-solve-the-problem girl.

This post had me laughing out loud. Well-done, Bridget. Keep 'em coming.

AND. All of my Girls Camp experiences involved sleeping in tents on the side of a hill.

sarah said...

that's awesome. I like the pictures of you too. I actually just got back from girls camp a few weeks ago! i loved girls camp and went all 6 years. i think it's more fun as a girl than as a leader though. Also, we called our young leaders YCLs (Youth Camp leaders) and often referred to them as yuckles. And one year my hiking buddy got lost on the hike and we didn't even know she was gone until she showed up back at camp in a plumber's truck.

Kristen said...

No. Freaking. Way. This is Twilight Zone stuff here, B. Yesterday I was going through some old boxes and came across my scrapbook of 5th year Girls' Camp...You know which one that is, I'm sure. I was laughing hysterically at our teenage awkwardness and troublemaking, thinking I should probably scan and email some to you. So now, you've asked for it. A little flashback of my own is coming soon to my blog! And to add to your K.I.T. year memories, I recall playing a lot of "thirteen" in the tent on our overnight hike. That was with you, right? All the cool girls (Cami and Janet) wore their shirts tucked in up front but not in back. And I have some excellent tidbits to add to the fire when I recall my own story of our counselor year...just you wait.

Bridget said...

Hoo boy, bring it on, Kristen. I guess all is fair game now that I posted pictures of our adolescentness.

So Jennifer herself wrote me an email and told me that while she remembers this incident, she remembers it being someone else who took the stick to the fire alarm. But my memory in this point is very distinct. But memory is a funny thing, so who knows? If Erin reads this blog, maybe she'll chime in and claim the glory for herself.

Erin Curtis said...

What a funny story! As I remember it, Jenn started hitting the fire alarm with a stubby broom that we supposed used to sweept the cabin. It was a little short to be effective, however, so I took over from the comfort of my top bunk. We must have knocked the battery loose or something because it did eventually turn off. Why, in all of our teenage wisdom and female drama, didn't we think to push the reset button? Oh well. Hooray for the broom.


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