Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flashback Friday: A close encounter with a bear

Ah, Girls' Camp. For as much as I didn't enjoy my time there, it sure is a good source of Flashback Friday stories. (I'm not the only one who thinks so, either - my friend Kristen wrote about Girls' Camp and the Cootie Ghetto a few weeks ago.)

Today I'm going to tell you about the time I was at Girls' Camp and got chased by a bear. It was the summer of 1997, and it was the year my friends and I had all been waiting for - we were finally counselors. No more mandatory craft activities, classes, or scheduled time for showering. Instead, we were paired up and put in charge of half a dozen 12- and 13-year-old girls, and they had to do all the required stuff. My fellow counselors and I spent our time decorating our cabins, sleeping when the girls were gone, and raiding the cafeteria kitchen for snacks after the girls were in bed.

Ready to rule camp as counselors, at last!

The week of camp progressed with little incident (other than the Cootie Ghetto affair linked to above), except that something - I forget what - happened to the bathrooms, and we all had to hike up the hill to a row of Andy Gumps (port-a-potties) whenever the need arose.

My sister Teresa at Girls' Camp in 1997. Looks like she's having fun!

The other thing that happened during the week to put a little excitement in the air was that one morning, the adult camp leaders discovered evidence of a bear having come down to camp in the middle of the night. Apparently, it had disturbed the trash cans outside the cafeteria. From then on, we weren't supposed to go anywhere at any time by ourselves - we always had to be with at least one other person, though really, I think that was a rule anyway.

Still, we lived it up as much as we could as counselors. The highlight really was that we could go to the kitchen whenever we wanted and help ourselves to leftovers from that day's meals. All the cafeteria staff asked was that we turn off the lights when we were done.

One night, after all our young charges were asleep in our cabins, a group of us counselors headed up in the dark to the cafeteria for some late-night snacking. The lights were off, as expected, but we turned them on and helped ourselves to some leftover desserts. The mood was light, the food was good, and we were having a great time laughing and joking with each other.

Then we heard a loud noise. It sounded like something very large was rustling around just outside the kitchen. And then we realized that it was coming from just about where the kitchen trash cans were. Then we remembered the warning about the bear.

I don't remember if we made a conscious, communal decision to flee, or if we all reached the same conclusion at the same time. Either way, it took just a few moments for all of us counselors to high-tail it out of that cafeteria. The banging and rustling coming from the dumpster continued as we ran as fast as we could down the path back to the cabins.

By the time we got there, I think we were all laughing a little bit, but it was that nervous, terrified laughter that sometimes strikes at a moment like the one we had just experienced. If I recall correctly, we reported what had happened to the people in charge and from then on, nobody was allowed to go up to the kitchens at night. It seems to me that would have been a sensible prohibition to make before we had such a close call, especially considering that that's exactly where the bear had appeared the first time, but there it is.

Maybe they made that rule just because they were mad that we counselors, in all our collective terror, had - gasp! - forgotten to turn off the kitchen light when we were running from the bear. Who knows?


Jeremy Palmer said...

Bridget looks like an 8 year-old boy in that hat.

Kristen said...

Bridget has changed the least of all of us, she has always been absolutely adorable.

This is wierd because I completely remember going to the mess hall (not cafeteria, silly) late at night and raiding the rations. But this bear story doesn't really ring a bell to me.

Possible explanations are as follows:

a) I was not nearly as terrified as the rest of you and thus the experience made no lasting impression

b) This was the night that you and the rest of my pseduo-friends pretended to be hiking to the porta-potties and left me behind to read scriptures in the cabin all by myself while you made merriment in the kitchen.

c) We ate our snacks, went back to the cabin and went to bed, and this is all just another fictional tale from your vivid dreams (chartreuse riddler gas station?)

We'll probably never know. Unless of course, Julee or Jennifer admits to it being B! Then your cover will be blown.

Liz Johnson said...

Bridget, you were such a gorgeous 16 year-old. :)

So... did the bear actually chase you back to your cabin??

Bridget said...

Liz, I didn't look back to check :).

Kristen, it's possible you weren't there. I'm sure not all of the counselors went there at the same time, but I'm sure that at least one of Julee, Jennifer, etc. was there, too. I'm sure this event has become dramatized in my memory in the intervening years, but in essentials it's true, I swear! No more crazy dreams.

Jeremy, thanks.

Sarah Rose Evans said...

I would like to point out, for my own amusement, that I am the only one in this picture wearing a men's polyester shirt.

Bridget said...

Sarah, I'm pretty sure that, at any given moment in time during those years, that statement would have always held true. I loved the story behind it on your blog, by the way.

Mikael said...

I was never a fan of girls camp, I actually hated the whole thing (lucky I went to dance in Boston instead), but I have to say that picture is HILARIOUS! I had pictured camp counselors as old and mature woman, you guys look like nerdy little girls, I LOVE IT!!! SO FUNNY!!! (Julee always makes me laugh during that stage, she has developed into a HOT model since then)


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