When we returned, the campers were headed down to the campfire. Sunset was minutes away. We followed along. Shawn motioned for me to sit beside him on the log bench. I happily did so and Patrick climbed up into my lap. The girls sat on the outside edge of the circle but I noticed campers scooted over to make room for them. Soon enough they were enveloped by the group and melted in, included. It made me smile.
Amy, Emily, and Shawn passed out melmac cups of hot chocolate. Each had a large marshmallow floating on top. Whispered “thank you’s” as the campers accepted the warm treat. Patrick sat down at my feet and took his cup, blowing on it. I cradled mine and sipped slowly.
Rob pulled out a guitar and sat on a stump at the center of the campfire. “OK everyone. Sing along if you know this one. I believe the great Canadian Leonard Cohen was rejoice-full, but also he talks about about being tested in love and loss when he penned the lyrics to this song.”
He bent over the guitar watching his fingering and started to play the opening chords of Hallelujah. I grinned. I loved this song. He lifted his head to sing the first line. “I’d heard there was a secret chord that David played and it please the Lord…” and my mouth dropped open. He had a beautiful, husky, baritone voice. I was mesmerized. We all joined in with him on the chorus and in the final notes as we all sang Hallelujah together about twenty times. When he finished he dropped his head and everyone at the campfire broke into a thunderous applause.
I turned to Shawn. “Holy smokes! Dudes got some pipes, eh?”
“Ya he does. He’s studying music so I guess it shouldn’t be a shocker.
“Another oldie but goodie. The lyrics cover what it means to be a friend. Ben E King released this in 1961. Hey, Nurse Anne, how old were you when this song came out?”
“I was not yet born. But it was not too many years after that.”
“Yes, campers! The song is THAT old!”
“Ouch Rob!” I said and he laughed.
“Shawn is gonna help me with this one.” Shawn jumped up and was holding a grater and a fork which held held up for all to see. Giggles echoed through the group.
“While I’m singing it I want you all to take the time to look at the stars above us. Camp is such a great place to see the stars cuz the ‘light pollution’ is so much lower here. That means that in the big city, there are so many lights from homes and high rises that it washes out the stars in the night sky. So take this opportunity to appreciate the stellar view.” Rob laughed. “See what I did there?”
“When the night has come. And the land is dark and the moon is the only light we’ll see. No I won’t be afraid. No I won’t be afraid. Just as long as you stand by me.”
As he sang, Shawn scraped the fork across the grater. We all giggled at the effect. Then I noticed the campers looking skyward. I did too. It was rather amazing to see the brightness of the stars in the dark sky. I quietly pointed out the Big and Little Dipper to Patrick, and had to admit that was the extent of my knowledge of constellations.
Rob finished up and we applauded. “Thank you everyone. Time for a scary story now. So I will turn it over to Amy”.
Amy told a story called “Two heads” where a taxi driver picks up a passenger who needs a ride to the airport. The passenger has two bags that he insists on putting in the trunk without help. The taxi driver notes that the passenger seems very nervous and keeps looking over his shoulder during the drive. The driver also notes a terrible smell of decay coming from the trunk. When he finally pulls up at the airport, the gentleman rushes out of the taxi, afraid he’s missed his flight, and leaves the two bags in the trunk. Once the taxi driver realizes it, he runs to the trunk, opens it to a gush of the horrible smell and unzips the two bags to discover a head in each one. A head of lettuce and a head of cauliflower!
We all groaned.
Next Emily and Shawn jumped up and took the stage.
“We are in a sporting goods store. I’m the sales clerk and Shawn is the customer.” Emily explained.
“Hello. I‘m shopping for a parachute.” Shawn said.
“You have come to the right place. We have a huge variety but this one here is our best one.” Emily said affecting a southern accent and indicated to an imaginary parachute.
“What makes it so great?” Shawn pretended to look carefully at the parachute.
“See here? That’s the rip cord.” Emily pointed and nodded.
“Yup. You pull on that sucker and the parachute opens up. Pssshew!” Emily threw her hands up in the air, as if the parachute was opening and Shawn tilted his head to look up.
“What is this other cord?” Shawn pointed.
‘That’s the reserve chute. If the first cord don’t work, why, just pull on this one back up and parachute will open up! Pssshew!” Emily threw up her hands again and Shawn looked up again.
“OK then. What’s this third cord for?” Shawn pointed.
“Why that there is the reserve, reserve chute. It’s the back up to the back up. You pull it and pssshew!” Emily threw her arms skyward again and Shawn looked up again.
“And what if all three of them don’t open?” Shawn asked.
“Well then, you just bring it on back here and we will give you a full refund!” Emily patted Shawn on the shoulder. Laughter and applause followed.
Rob sat down on the log again. “You ready Amy?”
Amy jumped into the circle, “Yes!” She was wearing a dark wig with bangs that covered her forehead. She had another wig in her hand and she carefully put it on Rob and adjusted it. Rob’s wig was long straight dark hair that cascaded down his back to his hips.
“Another oldie coming atcha!” Rob said and started to play “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. The wigs now made sense. Rob sang Cher’s part in falsetto and Amy sang Sonny’s. It was pitchy and campy and brought lotsa laughter.
Rob stepped out and left Amy behind. She pulled off her wig and told us her second scary story was called “Bloody finger”. In the story a boy was cajoled by his friends into staying the night at an abandoned and haunted house to prove he was brave. He agreed to the dare. When he arrived, he investigated the house as he entered at dusk and found nothing unusual. He took his sleeping bag upstairs, laid it out and climbed inside. He was just about to fall asleep when he heard howling and a faint voice from downstairs saying “I am the ghost of the bloody finger! I am in the front hall.” The boy’s eyes opened but he told himself he probably was just imagining it and tried to go to sleep. Shortly after he heard a voice again, “I am the ghost of the bloody finger. I am at the bottom of the stairs.” The boy stiffened but tried to calm himself down. Then he heard “I am the ghost of the bloody finger. I am at the top of the stairs.” The boy sunk deep into his sleeping bag. “I am the ghost of the bloody finger. I am in the hallway!” The boy shivered in fear. Louder he heard “I am the ghost of the bloody finger. I am at the bedroom door!” The door creaked open. “I am the ghost of the bloody finger. I am in the bedroom!” Tears formed in the boy’s eyes. He was terrified. “I am the ghost of the bloody finger.” The ghost paused. The boy took a deep shuddering breath and waited. “Do you have a bandaid?” Amy said this with a high voice and affected a Jersey accent. The campers broke into moans. I was relieved, imagining them all getting frightened and not able to sleep. Especially my kids!
“Last song of the night and then to bed, everyone!” Rob announced as he sat down again and the campers groaned. “You need to get a good night’s sleep so that you can canoe back to camp!” Louder and more pitiful groaning. “As we sing this we will collect your cups. Hope everyone enjoyed their hot chocolate!” Everyone cheered their thanks.
Rob started right into ‘Amazing Grace’. He sang it slowly and plaintively. On the second verse he paused briefly before each line spoke the next line so we could sing along. On the final stanza, Rob stopped playing the guitar and we sang a cappella. The sweet voices of the campers echoed through the trees with the last note. It was heavenly.