I walked down towards the beach, noting the nasturtiums were looking very happy in their new environs in the road side garden. Once I got to the beach I pulled out a folding chair from the beach hut and sat up by the tree line, in the dappled shade, to scope out another group of swimmers being tested, including my own daughters, while remaining undetected.
The more advanced swimmers were performing laps between the raft and the government dock while Lydia, holding a clipboard, looked on. Sarah, Megan and a couple of other campers were in the midst of the 5 meter front crawl for Liam as he supervised, checking items off on his clipboard. Patrick was with Anita showing off his front kicks as he held onto a flutter board. He was tearing up the shallow end.
Beyond the occasional direction from the examiners or the swim instructors, the churning water from the swimmers and the constant rhythmic sounds of their breathing, I could hear the gentle murmur of the forest surroundings, with birds and the rustling of leaves in the pleasant soft breeze.
I pulled out my magazine, now dog-eared and rumpled from moisture, from my backpack and began to glance as I thumbed through the pages. It was a lovely five minutes of tranquility before the scream rang out, startling me to the point that I tore the magazine page I held in my fingertips.
I looked up with my heart in my throat. Screams were coming from the direction of the water. Jake, one of the swimmers, was waving his hands over his head. I feared the worst. I dropped my magazine onto the ground, and started to stand.
“TURTLE!!” Jake screamed with a look of complete horror. “TURTLE!!” He pointed down underneath him towards the deep water below.
Complete pandemonium reigned down. Swimmers were crying out, scrambling to the raft, the dock, into the shallow end and running out of the water onto the beach screeching and confused.
Anita took control of the beach as she had campers sit in organized lines on the sand. The campers were talking excitedly amongst themselves discussing the cause of the melee.
Liam blew his whistle and the hubbub stopped abruptly. “Guys! It was just Sheldon our friendly camp turtle. He has never attacked a camper in the history of Camp Acorn and he just swam over to the bull rushes!” Liam pleaded as he held his clipboard up. “Come on! Back in the water. We have to finish the swim test!”
“Back in, guys!” Lydia called out from the government dock as she waved her arms slowly above her head. “Let’s get this done!”
“Return to the water, swimmers.”Anita instructed as she waved the campers back toward the water.
With some grumbling the kids on the dock and raft all dove back into the water. The kids on the beach slowly got back up and carefully surveyed the waters as they wandered back in.
Within a minute, the sounds of churning water and rhythmic breathing resumed. I picked up my magazine from the ground and dusted off the sand. I settled back into the chair with a sigh. Disaster averted. My heart rate was returning to normal.