I ripped off two 12 inch lengths of paper towel and laid it out on the counter. I labeled one “after dinner medications” and the other “bedtime medications”. I pulled out eight paper cups and with a marker labeled each cup with the campers name and the name of the medicine. Then, I carefully filled each cup with the appropriate pill (double checked and triple checked), lined the cups up on the paper towel, and then placed the pill bottle directly behind each cup. I did a quick wipe down, locked up the office and then jogged to the balcony to see if I could find the kids. I spotted them watching a tetherball match.
I walked up behind the kids and tapped each of them on the shoulder. “We should pack up some supplies for our camping tonight.” I told them. The three of them danced around with excitement. I started back towards the main house but the kids tore past me. I had to run to keep up.
“What should we pack, Mum?” Megan asked.
“A sweatshirt, pants, pajamas, a towel, flashlight, and your toothbrush. And just wear your bathing suit under your t-shirt and shorts for the ride over.” I told them. “Pile all your clothes up for me to see before you put them in your back pack, OK?” I instructed. The kids set to work. I grabbed some toothpaste and bug spray to add to my pack.
The kids were quick and did a pretty good job of assembling appropriate clothing. Patrick had added some toy cars and a beanie baby. When the girls saw that they added a beanie baby to their stacks too. I checked through their items and then rolled them up and stuffed them into their backpacks. We set all the backpacks in a line by the door. We gave each other high-fives.
“What do you want to do until it’s time to go?”
“Can we go kayaking?” Sarah asked.
“Have you tried it before?”
“Yes! I wasn’t very good though.” Sarah admitted with a grimace.
“Well you won’t get better if you don’t keep trying, right?”
We signed out three kayaks. I managed to find two smaller kayaks for the girls and I schlepped them down to the water. I hauled a regular sized kayak down for Patrick and I to use. I sent the kids off to get life jackets and three paddles. I stepped into the water and helped the girls get into their kayaks and pushed them off to the left into the calm waters of the inlet and instructed them to try to stay close to the shore. Then I stumbled into my kayak and pulled Patrick in to sit in front of me and pushed off from the shore.
“I want to paddle, Mum!” Patrick insisted. I knew it was not worth arguing.
I gave him the kayak paddle which turned out to be heavier than he expected. He dropped it and I had to make a quick grab before we lost it. He took hold of it again and tried valiantly to paddle but managed only to get about an inch of the tip into the water. The paddle banged loudly on the sides of the kayak as he struggled. We were not making any progress and the girls we well ahead of us exploring the shore.
“Can I help you, little buddy?” I asked gently after a good two minutes.
“Yes. It’s too heavy.” Patrick sighed.
“OK! You hold here in the center and I will hold further out here.” I placed his tiny hands on the paddle. “Here we go!” I sang as I dipped the paddle in and gave it a hard pull. Patrick gasped as we quickly lunged forward. I dipped the other side in and gave it another hard pull and Patrick giggled.
“So fast, Mum!” Patrick squealed and then he let go. “You do it yourself!”
A dozen strong strokes and we pulled up beside the girls with Patrick giggling the whole time. “Follow me into the lily pads.” I told the girls. “But we have to be gentle. We don’t want to tear them all up.”
We slowly ventured into the the shallows where the lily pads grew in great abundance. The white lily flowers bobbed as we very carefully paddled into their midst.
“I see fish!” Megan called out. We all peered over the sides of our kayaks and sure enough we caught glimpses of little bass and sunfish darting along under the lily pads.
“Cooooool!” Sarah said.
“Totally!” I said.
We slowed to a stop and sat, gazing over the sides, completely entranced by the gently undulating flowers and the fish below. With the sun shining down on us, the gentle breeze, the sounds of a chickadee in a nearby tree and the voices of campers in the far off, we were lulled into a peace.
Our peaceful reverie was broken with the sound of a loud shot. We all looked up startled and gaped around us in alarm. I did a rapid check of the kids to see if anyone had been injured. Everyone looked ok. Had we ventured onto private land and someone was shooting at us, I wondered.
“Holy shit!” Megan shouted. I turned to look at her, shocked, but as I did I saw over her shoulder the head of a beaver swimming towards us. “Look!” I said as I pointed towards it. The kid’s heads swiveled in the direction I pointed.
It slapped it’s tail aggressively again on the water and we all jumped. Just beyond the beaver I could see the roof of a beaver dam. We HAD wandered onto private land. Land claimed by this resentful beaver.
“It’s a beaver defending his home. Do you see his dam over there?” The kids looked in awe. “We should get out of here. Let’s calmly paddle out and leave him be.”
We slowly made our way out of the the tiny inlet. Once we were well clear, I turned to look at Megan.
“Sorry Mum!” She gave me an embarrassed look.
“Where did you learn that word?” I asked.
“I heard some of the campers using it.”
Uh huh. Turns out the kids were learning plenty at camp. But…truth be known, when I thought we were being shot at, I had the exact same thought it my head.