We changed out of our swimsuits, put on our dry clothes and joined the campers headed down to the fire pit. The counselors were lining the kids up. Shawn was taking the burgers off the grill. They smelled glorious. We got into the line and in an orderly fashion moved down the picnic table and filled our melmac plates with our dinner. From the big ice jugs we poured the kool-aid into the coffee cups. I helped Patrick with his and he chose a spot on the ground and sat with his legs crossed. I carefully placed the plate in his lap and then sat down beside him. The girls joined us.
A few of the campers sat beside us and chatted with the kids. They knew each other from rock climbing and swimming. I was enjoying my burger and the conversation.
“We want to show you our chipmunk traps we set up in the woods.” Adam piped up.
“Chipmunk traps?” Meg asked. “Why would you want to trap a chipmunk?”
“Because they are so cute! And I could take it home and keep it as a pet and train it!”
“That’s a good idea!” Patrick responded. I didn’t share his opinion.
“Have you ever caught one?” I asked.
“No. And we try every year. They usually just take the bait but don’t get caught.”
Relieved, but not at all surprised, I asked, “And what do you use for bait?”
“We’ve tried hot dogs and hamburgers. But tonight we are going to put some potato salad in their just in case they are vegetarian.”.
“That makes sense.” Sarah said. I suppressed a smile.
“Did you guys like jumping off the cliff?”
“YES! It was so fun!” Megan quickly answered and Sarah joined in. “So much!”
“I’m not sure I would have been brave enough at your age. I was a scaredy bear.” Adam told the girls. They smiled, obviously delighted with the high praise.
“Did you like cliff jumping, Nurse Anne?”
“To be honest, Adam, I was a BIG time scaredy bear but seeing you all jump gave me the courage to do it! And…it WAS fun!”
“The island is lotsa fun.” Thomas told us. “I look forward to it every year. Cliff jumping, the campfire, sleeping in a tent. Wait til we play games after dinner!”
“What kinda games?” Sarah asked.
“Sardines, ghosts in the graveyard, chain tag. Stuff like that.” Thomas replied.
“Oooo!” Sarah responded.
We finished our dinner and joined the line that had formed to drop off our dirty plates and grab dessert. Nothing fancy. Orange slices and two Peek Frean cookies each which we happily helped ourselves to. We were barely out of the line and Patrick had demolished his both in record time. I quietly slipped him one of mine. He ate that one more slowly.
“OK campers! Time for shenanigans! Let’s have a game of camouflage countdown!” Amy shouted. Campers cheered.
“You gonna play, Mum?” Patrick took hold of my hand and looked up at me.
“Do you want to play?” He nodded vigorously. “Do you want me to play with you?” He nodded again. “Do you know how to play?” He nodded a third time. ”OK. You tell me the rules and I will play!”
Patrick described a hide and seek game where the seeker started with a countdown of twenty but they were forced to stay in place (inside the confines of a small circle) and look for visible campers attempting to hide. Visible ‘hiders’ were eliminated. The game got easier for the seeker as with each successive turn the countdown was briefer (only 19 seconds to hide, then 18, 17, etc), forcing the hiders to try to find a hiding spot that was closer to the seeker.
Amy started as the seeker. All twenty campers plus myself and my three, gathered around her. She stood in the center of a circle that she had drawn into the dirt.
“You have to the count of twenty!” Amy instructed us. Then she placed her hands over her eyes and started to slowly turn in a circle, starting with “Twenty…”
The campers bolted! Patrick and I scrambled after them. As we started to run I stopped in front of Patrick and squatted down. He jumped on my back and we high tailed it into the woods. I saw Sarah and Megan follow some campers who were hiding behind some tents. Campers were behind bushes, and behind trees. We had to go fairly deep into the forest before I could find a tree that was unoccupied and wide enough for us the hide behind. We arrived just as Amy called out, “Zero!”
I dropped Patrick down on the ground, knelt in front of him and wrapped my arms around his waist pulling him in close, trying to ensure that we were not visible. We both silently giggled at our good fortune as Amy managed to spy four of the campers who were eliminated. We had managed to make it though the first round! We high fived.
“Round two!” Amy shouted and started her count down from nineteen. It occurred to me at that point, as I watched the campers jump into action, that I had to run all the way back to Amy, tap her hand and then go hide again! And this time with only 19 seconds. I had missed that subtlety when Patrick was describing the rules. Oops!
Patrick jumped on my back and bounced along as I ran pell mell toward Amy, narrowly missing crazed campers who were dodging each other clambering into their hiding spots. I tapped her hand and then turned towards some thick bushes that were close by. I dove behind them only to find four other campers there. We took a position behind them and I motioned for Patrick to lay flat on the ground beside me. With our cheeks to the dirt, and me panting, we giggled again. Amy managed to spot one of the campers in with us. He was wearing a bright yellow shirt that she could easily spy between the branches. Poor little guy scowled, got up and slumped as he left the bushes and joined the others who had been eliminated in the previous round.
We returned to the bushes in the next round and managed to avoid getting caught but by the fourth round I could not get to a big enough tree to cover my butt…literally. Amy called me out on it.
“I see your butt Nurse Anne!” Patrick’s mouth dropped open in shock and then his mouth drooped. The jig was up.
“It was a good run while it lasted,” I said to Patrick, trying to bouy his spirits. I held out my hand to shake his. “We made it to the fourth round! That’s pretty good.” I told him as I stood up and brushed the dirt from myself. “It’s unfortunate that, apparently, my butt’s too big.”
Patrick broke out into a guffaw. I looked at him with mild disgust.My response was to give him a hip check with the aforementioned large hips. He wasn’t expecting it and went flying into a nearby tree. He was unharmed.