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: Well, I'm back--temporarily-- from Camp. Here are the adventures so far:

We set off in a lovely caravan from our meetinghouse. I had two Beehives and an investigator (more on that later) in the back seat and Gretel beside me in the front. All went well until about the time we left the city limits and started up the canyon, whereupon the. investigator threw up. Red stuff. All. Over. My. New. White. Car. She didn't even ask me to pull over or anything-- in fact as of today, Wednesday, she has said nothing to anyone. Bleah. ( More on this later. ) This action inspired Gretel, who also threw up--a little more unpleasant for me, the driver, since it was dog food she was throwing up and I was one of the things she threw up on. Other things including my purse and the permission slips. I pulled off at the Lower Richbar campground and mopped a bit. The two Beehives had taken their Dramamine, as ordered.

We continued up through the canyon and most of us made our rendezvous at the little public park and store where everyone makes a traditional potty stop. People from other wards were there, and laughing at the condition of my vehicle. I put my nose in the air and ignored them. There was no toilet paper, a fact of which the (to remain nameless) brother who used the bathroom before me did not apprise me until it was too late. Men are not equipped to notice such things, are they? He left the seat up, too.

I had the girls trying to take Gretel potty out in the park, but she wouldn't, and the sprinklers came on, drenching everyone. So. Wet dog. Wet girls. Vomit. No TP. Heading up the mountain. Gretel rode okay until we left the "highway" and started climbing the serious mountain road whereupon she started retching again. I tried to tell her to sit up and look out the window and she would feel better but she insisted on lying down with head on the gearshift, miserable eyes glazed and staring at me with a pleading "how could you do this to me?" look. She wears a special doggy seat belt with chest pad that allows her to sit up if she wants, but she wasn't up to it, even when I coaxingly remarked that there were deer and squirrels.

Finally arrived at camp. The gentlemen--the Elders of Israel-- bailed. Second Counselor even remarked that he had dropped out of Scouting at age 12. Two adults-- the camp director-- who says she doesn't camp, and me. Nineteen girls. Most of junior high age, all of them berserk. We finally got some semblance of order, and made them a little bit tired digging drainage trenches around their tents. Threatened them some. I confirmed the "bears" rumor. Yes, it really happened, to my daughters, with the stake we were in six years ago, and yes, he was big and scratched that very tent you are planning to sleep in tonight, in the Ninth Ward campsite right over yonder so there.

" Oh, but that was a long time ago," one of the girls said. "He's gone by now."

"Wrong," said Ward Camp Director. "He's gotten married and has a lot of babies around here now."

By then it was seriously looking like rain. I cracked the whip over the ditch diggers like Pharaoh's overseer. Ward Camp Director and Youth Leader were about to kill someone.

It didn't rain-- so far!-- and I built a fire and made some Dutch oven brownies. Gretel started feeling much better. To say she was thrilled to be at Camp is the understatement of the century. Nobody does ecstasy like a large puppy. There were so many things to see and to smell, and when I put her on the long lead and let her out to run in the meadow she nearly became two puppies. One of the girls took her jogging, which helped, so we went back to camp and Gretel and I had naps.

When I woke up, the girls had trashed the campsite and the camp director was cooking dinner, alone, muttering imprecations as she hacked on a frozen chunk of shredded chicken meat. I asked her why she didn't get me up and she said she was trying to keep the girls quiet so I could sleep. As if. So I felt bad. We fed all bipeds and one quadruped, and then everyone but me went off to the fireside. I stayed behind babysitting Gretel, cleaning up the campsite, building the evening bonfire, cooking Dutch oven pineapple upside down cake, and enjoying the peace and the starlight with my dog. Gretel and I did walk down to hear the Stake Presidency message (from a discreet distance) and we walked out into the meadow during a lovely violin/flute number, drinking in the music, the surrounding mountains, and the night sky.

So far, the only wildlife Gretel has unearthed in the twilight was a very (Very) large toad, which discouraged her blandishments by the age-old Toad Pee Method of Defense. I went back to camp and lit the Coleman lantern and built up the bonfire so everyone could find us as they returned in the dark. Picked up more candy wrappers, and got more and more disgusted, so I packed all --I mean ALL-- the candy in a box and Took It Away. Camp Director was the first to return, and I told her, "Jill, I know this is not my place, but I really feel the need to put on my teacher face for these kids, so I hope you won't be offended if I speak to them for a few minutes." She said, through gritted teeth, "Somebody needs to!"

As they straggled in, I sat them down on logs around the campfire and wouldn't let them go potty, or go Snipe hunting, or anything, and wouldn't listen to them whine, and then I let them have it with a big speech about respect for Heavenly Father's world and respect for their Young Women leaders. And I told them their candy was G-O-N-E. Maybe, just maybe, when the YW pres. gets here later in the week, and if the campsite has been absolutely spotless for a few days, some of it may reappear.

Most of the girls were very contrite, apologized to us, straightened things up. The Investigator, however, smashed the Coleman lantern.

After we cleaned up the glass and gave the requisite lecture about shoes on at all times, we served the pineapple cake, and for the first time the girls ate politely, thanking me for baking it and saying how delicious it was. Then-- camp director seeming overwhelmed-- I took the girl who had been assigned family prayer aside and reminded her. She said, "Prayer? Huh? Whazzat?"

I said, "Oh, you know, all that old tiresome stuff you learned in Primary. Heavenly Father. We Thank Thee. We Ask Thee. In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen." She Got It, and said a lovely, lovely goodnight prayer, after which we sent them off to their tents with a much better feeling.

I folded down the back seats of my Pathfinder, and Gretel and I slept in there with the tailgate propped open, vomit towels drying on the spare tire rack. The longer the sun had been down, the more seriously cold it got. Gretel absolutely could NOT believe that she was being allowed to sleep cuddled up with Mommy, and I had to keep encouraging her to bring her warm doggy body closer. She was very obliging, but curled herself into such a little localized ball that she didn't do a lot of good for my feet. I had my flannel jammies, my sleeping bag, and a fuzzy Mexican blanket, (king size) but still froze most of the night. Of course I was loathe to make the requisite midnight biffy visit, so I suffered from that, too, but the stars and night air were lovely.

At one point Gretel sat bolt upright with her ears pricked and woofed, but when I turned my flashlight out into the campsite I couldn't see anything-- bear, raccoon, skunk, or otherwise that might have awakened her, so I hope it was a puppy dream. I hope.

Camp began to go smoothly. Jill told me the investigator girl had one missionary discussion Saturday and the missionaries told her she could go to camp. Girl seemed doubtful. YW President went to her house Sunday to fellowship the family, met mom, and the mom said, sure, I want her to go! Mom had no questions at all. Duh-oh. Send your kid off into the mountains for a week with a group of strangers she has known for 36 hours??

When we got up in this morning, one of the girls--Angelica-- had a very red bite on the arm. We sent her to the nurse, fed kids (I made cinnamon rolls in the Dutch ovens) and then everyone went off to certification. Nobody had even dared mention the fact that there were no marshmallows for the hot chocolate. Gretel and I made another long leash hike to the meadow, where we got scared by a bull the size of the Eiffel Tower. Eventually the bitten girl returned, saying the nurse said it was a mosquito. HELLOOO? The size of a B29 bomber maybe. She lay down on a lawnchair in the sunshine, shivering, with two sweatshirts and a blanket, and conked out. We fed the girls lunch, Investigator still pretty out of it, not mixing with the other girls. I checked Angelica and her swollen arm was like fire, while her face was like ice, and her clothing was drenched. I hazarded a guess that perhaps we were not dealing with a mosquito but a brown recluse spider, and the Beehive President said, "Yeah, that's the same nurse who told my sister her leg wasn't broken last year!" So I made an executive decision to bring Angelica back down and take her to the ER. We figured Jill would be okay for a few hours alone, since YW President was coming up today.

Angelica seemed very weak. I strapped Gretel into her doggy seatbelt and lay Angelica in the back on my sleeping bag, underneath my fuzzy blanket. It's a three hour drive, and she mostly was passed out. I woke her up at one point to try to get her to call her mom, but couldn't get a network on my cell phone. She said her mom probably wouldn't take her to the doctor anyhow if we could find her at all. This is the mom who was a labor and delivery nurse in Mexico, too, and she should know better. What's with these parents nowadays?

We dropped by my house to leave Gretel in the yard and call the counselor in the bishopric who is a doctor. His receptionist said he was in surgery and we'd probably get faster help at Urgent Care, so I told her to tell him I'd reported in, and off we went.

Trip to the ER much like any other trip to the ER. You know the drill. When we pulled up, the security guards took one look at my car and said, "Wow, who threw up here?" The nerve. While we waited, forever, Angelica told me about Investigator, and stories from what it's like at school with her, and how twisted her whole family is. I really, really really think the missionaries should not teach kids without their parents. Bad idea all around. Eventually, the doctor confirmed spider bite, medicated her, and said she can go back to camp with ice and elevation, so I found her a ride back in the a.m., took her home, and told her to have fun taking a shower.

I'm going to take a shower too, and spend a night in my bed, and then take another shower, call the vet to see about Doggy Dramamine, and eat some real food and maybe even take ANOTHER shower before I go back.

I'm still deciding whether or not to wash my car before I head up the mountain again.


© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.