Capture the flag? Nope, not a big fan of that either!

The kids and I trudged up the hill. I could tell that their energy was pretty much sapped as they dragged their feet along the dirt road and there was no conversation. Just as we were almost to the top of the hill, one of the counselors ran down to meet us.

“Nurse! Perfect timing. Can you please look at Luke’s ankle? He thinks he may have broken it.”

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Sitting on the top of picnic table was Luke, about thirteen, with his right leg stretched out in front of him. The Rock hut had been playing ‘capture the flag’ in the woods.  In an effort to protect his team’s flag Luke had managed to fall and twist his ankle as a result. It was not tender to touch and he hesitantly could perform full range of motion. There was no obvious swelling, bruising, or deformity either. 

As we waited for ice I took the opportunity to ask Luke what exactly ‘capture the flag’ was. Luke gave me a quick run down.  Basically two teams each hide their flag in the forest. The object of the game is to find the other team’s flag. However, if a participant gets caught in enemy territory looking for the flag, they can be captured and taken to jail. They can only be freed from jail by one of their teammates who can ‘tap’ them out. But, getting out of jail is pretty difficult with the high security that is provided by the jailors.  So what results is a very high energy game of tag in a wooded forest, with lots of crazed boys, and various stationary obstacles. Humph. Sounds like a recipe for disaster!

The counselor brought me some more ice, and I wrapped the ice in a musty smelling towel, and placed it on Luke’s ankle. I told him to keep it on for ten minutes, off for ten and then on again. I told him to keep it elevated and then I asked him to come by the office before bed for another look too. The counselor and Luke thanked me.


I gathered up my kids who had kept themselves amused by playing with the nearby tetherball.  We started up the stairs when two counselors came to stomping up the stairs behind us and nearly bowled us over.

“The nurse! Sweet! Just who we were looking for. We have a kid who slid on the gravel as he tried to free one of his teammates from jail in ‘capture the flag.’ Can you take a look at it?”

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Back down the stairs we all went. Sitting beside Luke on top of the picnic table was Andrew. His left leg from ankle to knee had an impressive abrasion that still had small bits of gravel clinging to it. He winced when I gently held his foot up and rotated it as I tried to get a full look at the area. I had the two counselors run to the kitchen and get some warm, soapy water and some paper towels. I gingerly rinsed off the area and managed to loosen all the gravel as Andrew held his leg over the side of the table.  Then I patted the area dry. Andrew managed to tolerate the whole thing pretty well and thanked me when I was done.  I asked him to come with Luke to the office before bed time and we could put some ointment on the area.

I gathered up the kids who had kept themselves busy by collecting rocks and trying to make tiny inukshuks in the dirt. We barely got to the first step when I heard the commotion behind me.

“Nurse! Zack thinks he busted his arm!”

“Let me guess. Was it while playing ‘capture the flag’?” I asked as we returned to the picnic table.

“Oh ya! I almost captured it too. Just an inch away!” He shook his head in disgust at his failure.

Zack’s held his forearm in an effort to support it. It was obviously hurting him but there was no obvious deformity, nor any swelling or bruising. I didn’t feel any crepitus as I examined it. So…we got more ice and wrapped his arm. 

“Luke. What advice can we give Zack?”

“Ice it for ten, off for ten, ice for ten. Keep it elevated and go see the nurse before bed time.”

“You got it?” I looked at Zack. He nodded. “K. See you guys soon.”

I gathered up the kids who had sat on the picnic table with their heads in the hands, quietly watching this whole episode. 

“Ready for bed?” I asked them as I picked up my droopy son.

“Yesssss!” The girls said as they slid off the picnic table. We walked four steps away when we heard the voice from the distance.

“Don’t let the nurse go! Paul ran into a tree!” 

The three of us stopped in our tracks and turned around. Coming out of the forest was another counselor with an arm draped over Paul’s shoulder, guiding him toward the first aid picnic table. Paul had both his hands over his face. And…was that blood oozing out between his fingers?

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“I am sick an tired of this game of capture the flag, Mum!” my eldest daughter said as the other groaned.

“Me too, sister. Me too.”





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