GOES TO CAMP
Hugh F. Pyle
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Big Announcement
Getting There Is Half the Fun
Nobody Wants to Sleep!
They Kept Coming
Cute Calamity Catie
Bedlam in the Bunkhouse
Catie's Catsup Caper
Mess Hall Madhouse
The Monster in the Lake
Call In the Marines!
The Invasion Foiled
Old Enemies Appear
Back in Fable Forest
THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
Randy Rabbit was out of breath from hopping.
"Scamper," he panted, "guess what I heard."
"Randy, you're going to hurt your hopper-jumping like that! I saw you stirring up leaves before you reached our trail. What is it, boy?" Scamper tried to calm him down.
The dust was settling on Randy's fur, and his dripping tongue was back in his mouth where it belonged.
"We're going to get to go to a camp!"
"A camp for boy and girl rabbits and squirrels- just like the people camp that Farmer Frank's children go to."
"Where is it? What do they do? Who told you we can go?" The words tumbled out of Scamper's mouth.
"One question at a time, please, Mr. Squirrel." Randy was happy that he was the one with the big news to tell. It seemed like Scamper was usually the first to know about big events.
"I learned about it in the Rabbit Review," Randy went on. "Parson Possum's boys told me they had seen the April issue down at the Fable Forest Barber Shop."
"Is it just for squirrels and rabbits?"
"Well, I guess so. What other animals would want to go to a rabbit camp?"
"Others go to Sunday school." Scamper couldn't believe something would be for squirrels and rabbits only. "But what do they DO at this camp?"
"Well, the story mentioned bang ball, and kickball, roller ball . . ."
"Sounds like a ball park to me," Scamper laughed. "What else, ball brain?"
"They sing, and learn verses, and put on skits and plays," Randy exclaimed, ignoring the reference to his cranium. "They make campfires and eat good stuff, and they have a lake and boats, and . . . ," his voice trailed away.
Scamper decided they'd investigate further before packing their bags. Randy Rabbit had a habit of getting steamed up about some things before he had the facts. "Who else do you know who might have a copy of the Rabbit Review?"
"Radcliff Rabbit down near the farm takes it at his house in Brushy Vale. They're kinda ritzy and stuckup, but I'm sure he'd let us at least look at it."
They hopped and scampered down the bunny trail to Rad's house in the vale. Though Radcliff was a bit "stuffy," he was also proud that his family took the Review and was glad to share his copy with his buddies from up in the forest.
Sure enough, the ad told all about a lovely camp on Lake Laurel situated in the Honey Hills, not too far from the Mighty Mountain range. The camp was not just for rabbits. Boy and girl squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, possums-even porcupines and skunks-could go if they promised to behave.
The ad promised plenty of sports and games in the daytime and some skits and singing at night before the message of the evening from the forest pastor. Scamper was thrilled to see that their very own Parson Possum would be one of the speakers this coming summer.
It was just then that Randy remembered to tell Scamper that their possum preacher was planning to tell all about the camp the very next Sunday at church. This was so the forest animals could start saving up their money to go to camp.
If only those furry pals could know the adventures that would await them!
GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
Sure enough, in his Sunday announcements, Parson Possum told about the camp that had been secured by some concerned animal parents up in range country.
Lake Laurel was a beautiful body of water fed by streams that came down from Mighty Mountain. On one slope of the giant peaks the water ran gurgling off into Roaring River. But on this side of the divide, the brooks and creeks tumbled into Lake Laurel. This made for some cold swimming water except in the heat of summertime. The fishing was said to be just dandy, too.
With the foothills all around, Mighty Mountain could be seen to the north. Magnificent trees on one side and waving fields of daisies on the other made it a beautiful spot to behold.
Parson Possum assured the parents that the camp was safe and would be well supervised, so most of the animals at church soon had permission to go-providing, of course, that they got busy and earned their own camp money.
Mrs. Squirrel was a bit nervous about Scamper and his brother's leaving home for a whole week, maybe even two. But Squire Squirrel had looked into it and decided to let the children go. "We cannot always keep them from danger, my dear," he had said, "nor can we watch every move they make.
We'll trust them and their leaders at camp-and furthermore, we'll trust the Lord. If He sees the tiny sparrow fall, He can certainly watch out for Scamper and Squeaky."
When Mrs. Squirrel remembered the wonderful words from Matthew 10:29, she felt much better about it. Scamper had noticed that mothers always seem to get nervous about their children.
Randy Rabbit was signed up, of course, and so were Charlie Chipmunk and Wally Woodchuck. The boys were a bit dubious when they learned that Susie Squirrel and some of the other girl animals would be going, too. "How much fun can you have when girls are along?" some of them groaned. But then they were assured that the girls would have separate barracks and that they'd have their own games, too, not only for the girls but the very young boy animals as well.
It was a wellplanned camp. Scamper loved his brother and sister but hated to have to "look after them" when he was at camp having a good time. He was glad the "small fry" would have their very own counselors.
Maybe they'd only meet at mealtimes, the boys reasoned.
Boris Bobcat was too old, Freddy Fox too tricky and devious, and Willy Wildcat too ferocious, so they were banned from the camp.
Later Scamper and Randy learned that Big Bart Beaver's boys and girls would be there, as would Mandy Muskrat, Sammy Skunk, Peter Porcupine and others of their friends from Fable Forest.
Scamper and Randy started saving every nickel and dime they could get their paws on. May seemed to drag along, and they could hardly wait for school to be out and summer to begin.
June finally arrived. Scamper and his friends told their teachers goodbye until September, and the animal friends began to count their coins to see how close they were to having enough money for camp.
The weather was warm now, and the swimming was getting good.
The wouldbe campers were so excited they were about to explode-or so they thought. They had never had a camp to go to before. Mrs. Squirrel, Randy's mom, and a few other animal mothers, were beginning to have some doubts. "Why, they have the whole forest to play in. Why can't they be content just to have 'camp' here at home? They could put up a tent in the yard and . . ."
"But it's not the same, Mother," the squirrel children all sang out. "We want to go to the lake with the other kids. It'll be so much fun. And we'll get to sleep in the cabins with our friends."
On they went, and Mrs. Squirrel reluctantly left it up to her husband.
Other mothers, too, thought they could get into enough mischief right there in the forest. "What with Babble Brook and Woodsy Wallow, Roaring River and the bangball field, they ought to be satisfied to play here." Randy Rabbit's mother wrinkled her nose nervously.
But the daddy animals remembered their own childhood days and the thrill of boyhood adventures. Also, with so many temptations all around, they wanted the influence of a good church camp for their offspring.
A big wagon was to take the children and their adult sponsors up to Lake Laurel. But who would pull the wagon?
Bears were strong enough but couldn't be trusted not to eat the passengers. Foxes might work, except they were so crafty and might decide to lunch on some of the smaller campers. A horse might accidentally step on one of the little ones. Anyway, how could they hire a horse way out here in the woods?
Parson Possum remembered the pulling of a cart by cows in the Old Testament; but who would furnish the cows?
Then one day Scamper got to talking to Geoffry Goat down at Farmer Frank's farm. The goat was big and strong but gentle and kind, too. He said he could jump the fence at a low spot on the northeast side of the farm and be ready to go most anytime. Geoffry acted like he really would be glad to pull the furry little animal children up to the lake.
"They won't even know I'm gone down here before I'm back again," boasted the husky goat.
"They let me wander all over the place in this kind of weather."
So it was settled that the big goat would pull the wagon.
On a Monday morning in late June, Geoffry Goat arrived at the Fable Forest Church, much to the delight of the furry folk of the forest. The campers had their bags all packed and were waiting at the curb. Parents were there to tell them goodbye. Parson Possum had the sponsors all in place, each to take care of the campers assigned to him.
The children all started climbing into the wagon, chattering excitedly. Some wanted front seats up behind the big goat. Others scurried through the hay to dangle their feet off the rear of the wagon.
Girl animals squealed if they had to sit near a boy. Boy animals seemed fearful of having a girl nearby. How all of this would change when they got to be teenagers!
Some of the mamas were wiping away tears while daddy animals gulped a bit and cleared their throats when the wagon pulled away. The children laughed and shouted with glee.
Big Bart Beaver drove the wagon. Parson Possum sat up on the seat beside him.
"Hi ho, it's off to camp we go," sang the children with gusto. Geoffry Goat strained and struggled with his load, proud of his strength in pulling the wagon loaded with happy youngsters. It was easy on the level pathway, but when they got to the hills, Big Bart could see real goat sweat on the stocky puller.
"Deep and wide," sang the children, followed by, "This little light of mine, I'm a'gonna let it shine." It seemed they had never had so much fun. Scamper decided that "getting there" was half the fun of going.
NOBODY WANTS TO SLEEP!
After awhile Scamper and his friends grew weary of singing and settled down to chattering in small groups.
Through meadow and dale the wagon rolled on. Once the sturdy goat stopped to catch his breath and drink from a refreshing stream.
Scamper Squirrel and Randy sat up front near Bart Beaver and Parson Possum. They couldn't wait to see what was around the next bend in the trail.
The Honey Hills were poking up their bumpy heads now, and the animals grew almost quiet as they saw a beautiful part of their world they had never seen before. In the high distance loomed the awesome peaks of Mighty Mountain.
"What a wonderful world of beauty God has made for us!" exclaimed the grateful squirrel.
"Yes, Scamper," replied the Parson, "and how sad that People Persons can't appreciate its glory instead of messing it up with sin like they do." Parson Possum was glad the children of his flock could realize that Someone had made all of this splendor-it couldn't have just happened.
People Persons would know this, too, if they had not been blinded by sin. Just last Sunday the faithful forest pastor had preached from Isaiah 1:3, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel cloth not know, my people cloth not consider."
Scamper remembered how such sin and evil in the next verse had provoked the Lord to anger. So People Persons were dumber than the animals if they rejected the love of their great Creator.
By now the flowers of the hills were abundant, and the air was so fresh and clean. The wagon rolled through the Honey Hills and on down into a gorgeous valley. In the distance they could see the shimmering waters of lovely Lake Laurel.
"Hooray!" the children all shouted, and began to yell, "This is it! This is it! The camp is just ahead!"
"Hi ho! Hi ho! It's off to camp we go!" others sang at the top of their lungs.
The wagon pulled up to the gate of Camp Laurel. The perspiring goat was secretly relieved that they had finally reached their destination. He was tired of pulling!
The campers tried to look in every direction at once. Other wagons were pulling in, full of excited little creatures from forests in faraway places. Some had unloaded, and furry youngsters were dragging their bags behind them through the leaves.
"Is that what they meant by everyone pulling his own weight?" Mr. Beaver wanted to know, with a grin. Some of these other campers lived in the Honey Hills. But others had come on foot from afar, not having a wagon and a friendly goat to bring them. Some were groaning with sore feet. It had been rough. Scamper knew his daddy would have called that "hoofing it."
Several log cabins had been placed in a row for dormitories, as some called their sleeping quarters. The children hurriedly examined their play areas, the bang ball fields and the openair shelters where they'd play dingdon" (the animal version of Ping Pong) and make things at "craft time." Then they saw the bigger tabernacle which was kind of an openair church with no side walls. There were a pulpit stand on the platform and a place for the choir to sing. There were an "animal land piano" and a few horns to toot. The preaching services would be held under the big tabernacle.
THEY KEPT COMING
Strange animals were coming from all over. The camp crowd grew. The Fable Forest youngsters suddenly began to feel a bit lonely as they looked at the throng of strange faces. People Persons think that all of certain animal species look alike, that "when you've seen one squirrel, you've seen 'em all." But not so to the creatures themselves.
"I don't know all these people," whispered Charlie Chipmunk.
"Neither do I," whined Squeaky Squirrel. "I wish all the Fable Forest gang could stay in a cabin by ourselves."
"But that's part of coming to camp," insisted Scamper.
And Randy agreed, "You get to meet lots of new creatures and make new friends from all over."
"Yeah," Sammy Skunk nodded. "I want to meet some people who'll be glad to make my acquaintance." Somehow, skunks (affectionately know as polecats) are not the most popular folks in the forest.
All of them agreed that this was going to be different from anything they had tried before.
Each camper had to register and then was told which cabin he or she would be in. Scamper and Randy had prayed they'd get to be together, and sure enough, they were. Some of the other "Fable Foresters" were in there, too.
They began to unload their bags and fix up their tiny bunks as best they could. Theirs was Cabin #3, called "Oakdale."
After supper they had some singing and were given the camp rules. The plans for the week sounded great. They were to have lots of games and a bangball tournament, not to mention a watermelon cutting and marshmallows by the campfire before bedtime.
The older sponsors and teachers were weary from traveling, so everyone was told to get ready for bed early that first night.
That was a mistake. The child animals were so excited and keyed up that they just couldn't get sleepy. In Scamper's cabin they started giggling and couldn't seem to stop. Tired and sore from the journey, they still wanted to be "doing" something, and none of the campers seemed to be sleepy.
In "Oakdale" cabin they had planned to have just a good night prayer, but after awhile the sponsors decided to read the Bible and have testimonies. After the reading, everybody got tickled again.
"You guys are impossible," shouted one counselor, who seemed about ready to tear his fur out.
A lanky squirrel named "Slats" had to go to the bathroom. This reminded several others that they did, too. "Slinky" Squirrel from Woodsey Wallow was "thirsty." Then all the other campers got thirsty, too. Reggie Rabbit from Fancy Falls had a tummy-ache. Waldo Woodchuck was a frail little guy from Spruce Springs who got homesick the first night. The rest of the "Oakdale" campers were just so wound up, they couldn't get rid of their giggles and glee.
"Won't somebody get sleepy?" pled Mr. Otwell Otter, one of the more patient of the counselors.
Butch Badger was more blunt: "Knock it off, boys," he thundered, "before I do knock some of you off."
Finally the campers began to simmer down. Some were even getting sleepy.
Then from Cabin #4 next door came a great volume of song. "There's a long, long trail a winding," they wailed. Then Cabin #2 responded with a "revised" version: "There's a long, long nail a grinding . . . up through the heel of my shoe. And it has ground its way already 'bout a mile or two." On they sang until the whole camp joined in.
Across the way in the girls' cabins they weren't doing much better: "Sal and I went to the circus. Sal got hit with a rolling pin. But we got even with that old circus: we both bought tickets and wouldn't go in!"
In the wee hours of the morning the campers finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
CUTE CALAMITY CATIE
I know you spell Katie with a "K," but chipmunks can be really hardheaded sometimes, and spelling never was smiled upon very favorably in the chipmunk clan.
Small, wiry and clever, chipmunks can be both cunning and crafty. Catie Chipmunk came from Honey Hills and was the life of the party wherever she went. Susie Squirrel and Roberta Rabbit thought it would be real fun to play with Catie at camp.
But the very first night Catie was caught putting salt in the sugar bowls at supper. She seemed the perfect picture of innocent girlhood when her cabin leader confronted her and just "couldn't imagine how a thing like that could have happened."
In the cabin bathroom Susie saw Catie Chipmunk take down a can of hair spray from Pauline Possum's shelf and replace it with bug repellent. Miss Possum was their cabin counselor, and it was up to her to see that the girls behaved.
What should Susie do? The two cans were the same color. This meant that Pauline, who seemed like a nice lady, would soon be spraying her hair with bug spray. Should Susie "rat" on her, as the kids called it, or just watch the action when Miss Pauline came in to fix her hair for lunch?
Right now the older girls were in the swimming area of the lake, and Pauline Possum was there to help watch them stay out of danger. But she would soon be back to get ready for lunch. Susie had to decide.
She wondered if she should confront Catie herself Catie was a big girl for a chipmunk, and Susie was small for a squirrel. This meant that they were about the same size. Susie was not a "fighter," and Catie was not only cute and sharp but very popular among the girls, too. Susie didn't want to tangle with her.
If only she could get over to Scamper's cabin and ask him what to do, but she didn't dare do that since she knew she'd get in serious trouble if she got caught near the boys' cabins. That was a "no no" for sure.
She prayed about it silently and then decided she would correct the problem herself. She crawled up on the shelf and took the bug spray down. Then she got the hair spray out of the cabinet where Catie had hidden it and put it back where it was originally.
As she slipped back out of the cabin to the play area, Catie Chipmunk was coming in, wanting a ringside seat to watch Miss Possum spray bug repellent on her furry hair. She gave Susie a curious look. Susie felt her cheeks turn warm.
It was almost lunch-time when the girls' cabin filled up with campers getting ready for the noon meal. Miss Possum came bustling in and headed for the bathroom shelf where her hair spray was. Susie came back in about that time, and Catie was watching her counselor with keen anticipation as she prepared to fix her hair.
Pauline Possum held the can aloft and sprayed her hair while Catie waited with bated breath, expecting a scream of shock and disgust. But Miss Possum fixed her hair while humming "God Will Take Care of You" and went on out to the mess hall without a murmur.
Susie hurriedly followed her while Catie Chipmunk crept back into the bathroom for another look at that can. The hair spray was back on the shelf, and the bug spray was hidden away in the cabinet below. Catie had been foiled in her pernicious prank.
Susie felt that Catie was eyeballing her at lunch that day, and kept wondering if she had done the right thing.
The morning bell had awakened Cabin #3, and the sleepy boys were now digging the sleep out of their eyes while wondering why they hadn't gone to sleep earlier the night before.
They saluted the flag and had an early prayer under the trees before heading for breakfast. The cereal and milk were good, and they had juice and nutty toast with homemade jam some of the mothers had sent to camp.
After returning to their cabins to make their beds, the boys were taught how to make real animal toys in the craft class. Then they had Bible class before morning sports time. Scamper, of course, had no knowledge of the drama his sister, Susie, was having with Calamity Catie.
The boy animals splashed and swam in the edge of the lake that afternoon while the girls played croquet and King Kong. Then the boys had a bang ball game while the girls went swimming.
Cute Calamity Catie was quite a performer for the girls that afternoon. She had jokes to tell and songs to sing which kept some of the younger ones from thinking about their homesickness. But Susie noticed her pulling the drain plug on the rowboat which caused the boat to fill with water as some of the counselors decided to take a little cruise before supper. Fortunately they were close to shore and didn't sink. But it could have been a tragedy.
That Catie was a mess! Susie thought to herself, Why is it that I have to be the one to see her do these things? She decided to confide in Becky Beaver and Roberta Rabbit. But they were afraid that if they said anything about Catie, they'd be accused of being jealous. "The girls would think we're just catty about Catie," Becky said.
"Yeah," Roberta piped up, "we don't want to go around with a chip(munk) on our shoulders."
"Be serious, you girls," Susie replied. "This girl is going to get herself in trouble-and hurt somebody in the process."
Susie kept wondering why a girl who was so talented and sharp would want to do things that were dangerous and troublesome to others. She remembered that Squire Squirrel had read to them from Romans 3 about how we were all sinners and had come short of the glory of God. Chipmunks were made by God, too, and Catie went to the Fable Forest Church and was supposed to be right with her Creator. It seemed strange. Susie would have to make it a matter of prayer.
BEDLAM IN THE BUNKHOUSE
After rest time on the first full day at camp, the boys in Cabin #3 headed down to the lake for their afternoon swim. They had a hilarious time diving, splashing and swimming in the ropedoff area of the lake. The girls were out in the boats or up under the big openair tabernacle where some of them were practicing their skits for "fun time" that night.
Other boy animals joined the swimmers as the afternoon wore on. At 3:30 it was time for the boys to head for the showers and turn "swim time" over to the girls. When Scamper and his roommates opened the door of Cabin #3, they knew something was amiss. Their clothes were all knotted up and strung together in a daisy chain around the cabin. Sheets were strung up over the windows and mattresses upside down over the ends of the bunks. Scamper and Randy groaned as they contemplated the bedlam in the bunkhouse.
"Oh boy! Who would do all this to us?" moaned Randy.
"And why would they want to?" Scamper was puzzled.
They hollered for their sponsor who promised, "We'll get to the bottom of this," and they began to untie the knots slowly. Getting the mattresses back in place was not too hard. Finding whose sheet belonged on which bed was another matter. And the clothing was knotted up so badly that both Scamper and Randy agreed it was going to be hard to look neat this week.
"No wonder some of the guys from Cabin #4 were late getting down to the lake," Scamper was pondering.
"Do you think they did all this, Scamper?"
"Well, somebody did, and the girls would not have dared come over here-they'd be too scared."
Buddy Badger agreed it would have to be the guys from Cabin #4. "No girls could lift these mattresses and toss 'em around like that, even if they dared come in here."
That night the counselors in each cabin gave the campers a really good "talking to" about being respectful of other people's property. They had prayer, too, before "lights out," and everybody seemed more at ease. A lot of the excitement of the first night was over now, and sleep was not hard to come by. The snoring was really getting serious about the time Scamper dropped off.
CATIE'S CATSUP CAPER
The bell clanged loud and clear at 6:30 Wednesday morning, and the sleepyeyed campers began tumbling from their bunks.
Suddenly a piercing scream rent the air, followed by other howls and hollers from the girls' side of the compound. It sounded like a scream of agony and fear all wrapped into one. The racket came from the girls' cabin called "Magnolia," where Susie and her friends were housed.
Scamper and Randy wanted to rush over but dared not do so without permission. Scamper froze in his tracks, wondering if something had happened to his sweet sister, Susie Squirrel. Squeaky came scampering over from Cabin #5, crying "What's up, Scamper? What's happening to those silly girls?"
"We don't know yet, Squeaky. I hope it's just something silly."
Scamper and the other boys from Cabin #4 moved on up into the lane as close to the girls' "Magnolia" cabin as possible without violating the restriction line.
The screaming had let up now, and some of the ladies from the registration building had hurried into Susie's bunkhouse to see what was going on.
They found what looked like a crumpled form on the washroom floor, and there was a lot of red on the blouse which made it look like some terrible crime had taken place there. But the form was some old wornout bedspreads rolled up to look almost like a woman, and the top part was stuffed into one of Miss Pauline Possum's blouses. The red stuff was catsup, and the "head" of the victim was a peach that had been almost completely covered up with a colorful scarf. No crime had been committed, of course, but to the first sleepy campers who ventured into the washroom, it had looked very frightening. How glad they were that it was not Miss Possum on the floor at their feet.
The girls were sternly quizzed by the ladies from the office, but no one owned up to having put the scarylooking thing in the washroom. Miss Possum seemed very puzzled and a bit shaky over it all. Finally they all trekked into the mess hall for breakfast.
No one could imagine who did this, but after the bug spray and rowboat plug, Susie was pretty sure that it must have been Catie. She wondered if she should just go to Catie and confront her with what she had seen.
After breakfast she was able to talk to Scamper briefly and tell him all about her problem. Scamper felt that the lady sponsors were working on it and would know how to handle it. "I think you'd better stay out of it, Susie."
Indeed, the teachers and counselors had a meeting after breakfast and decided to post someone in every cabin (or bunkhouse) to find out what was going on. "Don't take a dog by the ears." Susie remembered the verse Parson Possum had given them last week in the youth meeting: "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." The verse was Proverbs 26:17.
Wednesday afternoon came with no more screams or shocking episodes. Camp seemed to "settle down." Of course, a couple of the smaller child animals were homesick and had to be comforted by the ladies from the office (one of them was Parson Possum's wife). Rad Rabbit and Squeaky Squirrel ate too much watermelon and had to take medicine. Becky Beaver was used to swimming more than running and ended up with a sprained ankle from a bangball game. Henry Hedgehog cut his finger trying to peel an apple. (Mandy Muskrat murmured, "You'd think anybody as ugly as Henry would just eat the whole thing- peeling and all!") But others thought Mandy would hardly win a beauty contest herself!
Yes, it did look like many of these campers could stand an improvement in their attitudes.
That night the camp preacher talked about the inner heart of man, using such verses as, "Speak not evil one of another," and, "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another." The boys from Cabin #4 came forward to confess they had tied up the clothes and messed up the bunks in Cabin #3 the day before. The boy animals got along better after that.
And the bedlam in the bunkhouse seemed to taper off.
It seemed that Catie Chipmunk just couldn't stand not to be pulling some kind of prank. Miss Pauline Possum had some lovely powder in a pink can, and it smelled, oh, so sweet. She always sprinkled some on after her bath, but tonight when she powdered herself she started sneezing vigorously and couldn't stop.
"All right," she cried, "who put pepper in my powder can?" No one said a word. The girls looked scared, then looked at one another, wondering who was guilty.
Up and down the aisle of the bunkhouse strode the agitated Miss Possum, looking first on one bunk and then another. Betty Beaver had been chosen to help her find the prankster. Betty was Susie's *lend, although bigger and a little older. But it was Betty who reached under the edge of Susie Squirrel's bunk and pulled out a big pepper shaker just like they had in the camp kitchen.
"Susie Squirrel, are YOU the one who has been doing all these terrible things?" Miss Possum demanded to know.
"Oh, no ma'am, not I," Susie quickly replied, though she was blushing with embarrassment, and her red face made her look guilty to the other girls.
"Then what is this pepper can doing under your bunk?" Miss Pauline had to stop and blow her squiggly little nose and wipe pepper off her fur.
"I don't know, Miss Possum," and Susie was hurt to see Betty Beaver looking at her like she was a criminal. Susie felt real squirrel tears in her pretty little eyes.
Catie Chipmunk was enjoying all of this and had a wicked little smile on her pointed face. While Miss Possum was trying to decide what to do with Susie Squirrel, Catie snatched up her little makeup bag and started for the girl's shower room. She accidentally snagged the bag on a bunk in the back of the cabin, and out tumbled a small bottle of bright red catsup which spilled out when it hit the bunkhouse floor. Catie was frantic as she tried to cover up the red stuff, and her paws got all red and messy.
"That's what we saw in the washroom this morning!" the girls sang out in unison. Now it was Catie's turn to look embarrassed. It seems she had been caught "redhanded"!
"Catie Chipmunk, was it YOU who put that gory thing in the washroom this morning? Was it YOU who put the pepper can under Susie's bed?" Miss Possum was really worked up now.
Catie started to cry and for the first time had no answer, no joke, no quick reply. In a little bit Miss Possum had a full confession of what Catie called her "practical jokes." Betty Beaver hugged Susie Squirrel, and all of the girls had a fine lecture about how our fun times should not be at the expense of others.
It seems Catie had come from a family where respect for others had not been taught. Also, she had become very slack lately about Sunday school and church.
Catie was a distant cousin of Charlie Chipmunk whose family had been witnessing to her and was really responsible for her getting to come to Camp Laurel.
Miss Possum prayed with her and Susie and made all the girls promise to love and forgive Catie Chipmunk, which they did.
All of this was quite a blow to Catie Chipmunk's pride, for she was not only pretty and petite but very popular among the students at the Honey Hills School. Susie and Betty Beaver had noticed that sometimes the most popular children were the worldly ones. But they knew that if they lived right and obeyed their Maker, they'd have all the friends and all the pleasure they needed. Sometimes, they had learned, cutting up and doing mischievous things were just a coverup for a lonely and unhappy heart. Maybe Catie was like that. All of us need a blow to our pride now and then.
MESS HALL MADHOUSE
Everybody seemed to be in a good mood on Thursday. Breakfast over, the cabins were cleaned in a hurry, and there were always a prize and extra bit of watermelon for the cabin with the cleanest floor and bestmade beds. A morning swim time was followed by Bible classes and some craft fun before lunch.
The animals always lined up at the mess hall door when the bell rang for meals. They sang, "Here we stand like birds in the wilderness waiting for something to eat," until the building seemed to shake. Then they'd stream in to the various big tables and gather 'round for prayer before the meal.
"This is table number one; where is number two?" the first table sang out with gusto. Table #2 would respond with the same song, calling for Table #3 to respond, until all ten tables had been heard from. By then the adult animals were holding their ears and praying for the end of camp.
It was a hilarious gathering. Polly Possum and Wilma Woodchuck had "waitress duty" that day and were coming out of the kitchen carrying big trays of squirrel delight and carrot cobbler for dessert. Polly's foot hit a wet spot on the mess hall floor, and she started sliding, holding the tray overhead. She finally hit the deck while giving her tray a nice shove over onto Table #3. The trembling tray wobbled along, spilling gooey dessert on the campers as it headed for the other end. The tray finally came to rest in the lap of the dignified Reverend Roscoe Raccoon. The remaining bit of cobbler bounced up on his nice white shirt, looking very much like a sticky carrot corsage, while the remaining juice sprayed his glasses and streaked his wellcombed hair. It was a sight to behold!
Meanwhile, Wilma Woodchuck had tripped over Polly Possum, and her tray was up for grabs. Scamper, Randy and Morty Mole all got a hand on it and were juggling the tray, trying to keep the precious dessert from spilling off all over the floor. Others rushed to assist. As the tray bounced from hand to hand, some of the goodies would fly off onto one head after another. Scamper's hand got so slick and sticky he had to let go, and his gooey paw came streaking down across the upturned face of Parson Possum. That dessert must have had blackberries in it, for the Parson's face looked like he was having surgery.
That tray fared no better than the first one, and by the time it reached the lap of Betty Beaver, it had dispatched all of its sweet cargo onto the hair or clothing of a great many campers.
The whole dining hall was in an uproar, and the showers were busy for the next hour as sticky cobblers and gooey puddings were washed out of splattered hair. "Now I know why they call that place a 'mess hall,"' laughed Charlie Chipmunk, who had never seen such a mess before.
The campers were still laughing about the mess hall madness long after that and enjoyed telling the story when they returned from camp the next weekend.
THE MONSTER IN THE LAKE
Clouds rolled in Thursday afternoon. With only a sprinkle of rain, the boy and girl animal campers could still enjoy their swim since there was no thunder and lightning. The girls went first so they'd have time to fix their hair before supper.
At 4:00 p.m. the boys hit the lake with one big splash after another. The beavers and otters did best in the water, but most of the others were catching on, too, and enjoying Lake Laurel immensely. The lake was long and wide, and some of it was out of sight around a bend, with the trees hiding the northwest area toward Mighty Mountain. Across the lake from the dock the campers could see some of the pretty Honey Hills. Everybody wanted to take pictures of their beautiful swimming lake. Only the older and more experienced campers were permitted to take a boat out on the lake without adult sponsors being along.
Just before the bell rang to call the boys out of the lake to get ready for supper, a strange thing happened. A mist had rolled in on the lake and seemed to mingle with the afternoon clouds. It was no longer possible to see the Honey Hills because of the haze. Scamper and Randy were taking one last look at the lake as they gathered their towels and flipflops for the trek back to their bunkhouse.
Suddenly Randy grabbed Scamper's arm. "Look!" he cried, "what's that?" pointing out into the lake. Charley Chipmunk and Buddy Beaver saw it at the same time. Something was rising up out of the water out there. It was long and spooky looking and seemed to totter and tremble in the mist. The "thing" seemed to have a "head" of some kind, and the whole thing writhed like a snake. But it was far too big to be a snake. Snakes were not permitted to attend the camp since they never did quite fit into the activities and they made the girls scream. Also some snakes were poisonous and might send the campers to the Honey Hill Hospital.
Anyway, no one had ever seen a snake as big and threatening as whatever that was out in the water. It waltzed around a bit and disappeared in the fog.
The campers stood there spellbound watching to see if the big "thing" would come into sight again. By that time the counselors were hollering down from the cabins for the boys to hurry up. It would soon be supper time.
There were a lot of laughter and chatter at the supper table as the campers recalled the exciting comedy of the spilled dessert trays that noon. Polly Possum and Wilma Woodchuck hardly knew whether to laugh at themselves or be humiliated. They did get a good bit of teasing.
"Think you could repeat that slideandtray throw for us, Polly?" the boys shouted. "And Wilma needs to set up a shop and teach us how to trip and toss a tray in the air at the same time," others cried.
Roberta Rabbit and Sandi Squirrel thought it was the boys who were the clowns for balancing the tray in the air while plastering everybody's hair with food as it bounced by.
Finally the counselors made them all hush so they could eat their food.
There was a break for a few minutes after the meal before things began at the tabernacle. Scamper learned that Butch Badger and Oscar Otter, both husky and athletic counselors, had slipped back down to the lake shore. They had heard all about the big "monster" out there. Some of the older and more dignified leaders spoke learnedly of the Loch Ness Monster in a place called Scotland, but doubted if such a thing really existed. And they scoffed at the idea of any such "sea monster" being in our lovely Laurel Lake.
Scamper and Randy followed them, while keeping their distance and trying to stay out of sight. Buddy Beaver also had seen the "thing" earlier and was sneaking along behind now to get another look.
It was not quite dark, but the clouds had drifted on, and the fog had lifted from the lake. An almost full moon was peeking through and would soon be bright if the clouds behaved.
Suddenly up near the bend they saw something suspicious again way out on the lake and almost out of sight. There were the hump and the head, and then a snakelike tail seemed to stand up on the rear.
"Oh, I wish it was closer so we could see it again." Oscar Otter was excited. "Yeah," replied Butch Badger. "And we've got company, too." He had spotted Scamper and Randy following him. It was getting so dark now that they could just barely see the spooky thing, and then, like a submarine, it slipped out of sight.
The moon disappeared again behind some clouds, and darkness took over as the evening services under the tabernacle began. There was enthusiastic singing of gospel choruses and some of the grand old hymns. Several of the animal kids had practiced and had some real harmony in the special music that night. One of the visiting preachers brought a challenging message.
"Canteen time" came next, and the campers had a good time snacking on peanuts, candy, cold drinks and other goodies. The adults could not imagine how the campers could be hungry again after all they had put away at supper time. But there's something about camp, the lake and the great outdoors that produces a tremendous appetite.
After the campfire service that night, Scamper, Randy and Buddy Beaver looked once more out over the lake. They knew there was a small island out there somewhere, and they also knew there had to be more of the lake around the bend where they were unable to see. But what they had seen was no island since it had a "head" and also a tail sticking up. Also islands don't come and go. "They stay put," as Randy put it. The moon was brightly shining once more, and it seemed to shimmer on the lake. Everything was as clear as could be out there.
Butch and Oscar came down to see if they could spot the monster again before getting the boys settled down in the bunkhouse. They seemed to see something on the distant horizon, but since it was dark, they could not be sure. A time or two the boys thought they saw some lights blinking, but finally decided it must be their imagination. The moon shimmering on the lake didn't help much.
They finally gave up.
"Lights out" was at 10:15 and Taps at 10:30. There were always some whispering and giggling after that, but before 11:00 all was quiet. Scamper Squirrel, Randy Rabbit and Buddy Beaver were still awake and could hear the counselors talking softly. When Butch Badger and Oscar Otter slipped quietly through the screen door, Scamper, Randy and Buddy followed. The young counselors were fascinated with whatever it was out on the lake and, since the moon was so bright, decided this might be the best time to investigate. They decided that Butch Badger and Randy should stay in the bunkhouse in case the campers needed them. This meant that counselor Oscar Otter would be in charge of the investigation and would take Scamper Squirrel and Buddy Beaver along since they were both mature and reliable. Both Mr. Otter and Buddy Beaver were expert swimmers, and they felt this might be very important since the trip out there would have to be by boat. Scamper had a level head on his young shoulders and was good at paddling a boat.
Off they went onto the moonlit lake. For a few moments the moon slipped behind clouds again, and there was an eerie darkness over the water. Then the moon peeked out again long enough for them to get their bearings and be sure they were rowing in the right direction.
Oscar Otter whispered that it might be good if they didn't have too much light on the lake. "Whoever or whatever is out there can see us better if the moon is bright," he reminded them.
"What if it really is a dangerous monster of some kind?" Scamper sounded a little worried. "How could we deal with that?"
Oscar showed them a sharp knife, and Buddy had brought along a heavy bangball bat. "Also you swing a mighty good oar, Scamper, and Buddy Beaver and I have teeth you just wouldn't believe." The hefty otter was reassuring as he flashed those gleaming pearly white teeth of his. They really did look like sharp weapons, and Scamper felt better about the expedition.
Farther and farther out on Lake Laurel they rowed, sometimes in the light of the moon and sometimes almost in darkness. It seemed so quiet and peaceful. What would Squire Squirrel think of this, Scamper wondered, and how fearful his mother would be!
At least he was glad his brother, Squeaky, or his sister, Susie, didn't know about it. They'd have had a conniption fit to come, too!
For awhile the only sounds to be heard were the dipping of the oars into the water and the gentle splashing of lake water against the bow of the boat. None of them had ever been this far out onto Lake Laurel before.
Suddenly, outlined against the hazy horizon, the trio of campers saw a strange sight. Something big and menacing was rising up out of the water. The monstrous eyes seemed to blink at them, and a huge dragon's tail swished around in the water. They were face to face with the monster of Laurel Lake!
CALL IN THE MARINES!
Back in the bunkhouse Randy Rabbit and Butch Badger were having a hard time getting to sleep. They both wished that they had been able to go out on the lake with the others. What strange story would Scamper and his friends have to tell when they returned? The others in the cabin seemed restless, so they dared not talk about it out loud.
Meanwhile, the monster was thrashing the water and making strange unearthly sounds as Scamper started pushing back with the oars to slow down the boat. Oscar Otter strained his eyes, trying to find out what that strange contraption was.
The boat was bouncing in the water, and it seemed they might soon be thrown overboard by the waves. The monster was so big that it towered over them, and they realized it would be impossible to hit it, cut it or "tooth it" without getting swamped and swallowed or mangled by it-or so it seemed. What could they do?
Scamper was feverishly turning the boat around now, and Buddy Beaver grabbed a paddle to assist. Clouds swept back over the moon, and it was dark enough to retreat without being consumed by the monster. They all breathed a sigh of relief to be out of reach of that "thing," whatever it was. Oscar Otter felt a bit sheepish over turning back. A strange gurgling and grinding sound turned into a fiendish laughing noise behind them.
All three of them agreed they were no match for whatever that was out there. "I had been so sure it was just a trick of some kind or maybe that our eyes were fooling us." Buddy Beaver sounded so disappointed.
"Well, I still have a hard time believing there is anything that big swimming around in the lake," Scamper cried.
"It's certainly too big to be a People Person of any kind." Oscar Otter seemed so puzzled. "And anyway, People Persons don't have huge humps and big thrashing tails like that."
"And they aren't found splashing around in lakes at midnight," agreed Buddy Beaver.
The lights of camp had never looked more inviting. Soon all three of the lake travelers were snoring away in the bunkhouse.
Friday was another busy day at Camp Laurel as the final contests were held in archery, King Kong, watermelon seed spitting, and, of course, bang ball and kickball. The cooks had saved the best nut casseroles and bug salads of all for the last supper at camp. And the cobbler for dessert must have had all of the berries of the forest in it. Ummmm. So good!
That last service at camp was especially sweet, and all of the happy creature campers hated to see it come to an end. Their Creator had been so good in giving them good weather and a beautiful place like this for their summer camp. And soon it was to be all over. Parson Possum brought an exceptionally fine message for that last night at camp.
Many parents and other older creatures from Animal Land had come to this last service and would be taking their camper children home the next day. Big Bart Beaver was there with his goat drawn wagon, ready for the return trip. Officer Otter of the Fable Forest Police Department was also there for that last service. Both of them were experts in the Marine Division of Animal Land, and were they ever going to come in handy!
Scamper and his furry friends were having a great time at the refreshment canteen after the last camp service. Cold drinks, ice cream, popcorn and cookies brought delight to hungry animal tummies, and laughter was in the air.
Then in a flash the lights went out! In the darkness the campers began to scream and cry out as they stumbled over one another, spilling their cold drinks and ice cream. As the moon slipped into sight from behind a cloud, everybody began to calm down. Now they could make out the outline of the cabins and see the moon shimmering on the lake. Many of them could see pretty well in the dark, anyway, they remembered.
Camp counselors were trying to get the lights back on, but they found the power box had been tampered with and one of the main lines had been cut (or chewed) in two. Now what?
About that time Scamper and Randy saw something strange out on the lake. The weird "monster" was near the shore right out in the water near the camp dock. There were hideous noises and screams coming from the great lake creature, and it rose up and plunged down with its peculiar tail thrashing around in the water. Even the camp counselors seemed too small to go down on the dock and encounter this "beast," whatever it was.
A loud voice then proclaimed that the camp was to be invaded and the campers would be eaten alive!
"Oh, this is terrible!" cried Winnie Weasel. "We'll all be destroyed!" sobbed Sandi Squirrel. "No one will ever know what happened to us!" screamed Christy Chipmunk.
But all was not lost. As the moon was once more partially hidden, Big Bart Beaver and his stocky son Buddy were edging their way down to the lake shore. At the same time Officer Otter had climbed down underneath the dock and was sharpening his long white teeth with eagerness. He was soon joined by the two brave Beavers. Big Bart told Buddy to stay under the dock until he was needed as he and Officer Otter dived under and made their way along the bottom of the lake out toward the "monster."
The huge "thing" was closer to shore now where it was only four or five feet deep. The scary noises were louder than ever, and the smaller animals were just about "scared out of their wits," as Parson Possum put it. Butch Badger, Sammy Skunk and Peter Porcupine seemed to be poised near the lake shore as if they had been told exactly what to do.
Meanwhile, Officer Otter and Big Bart Beaver were underwater right beneath the huge "monster." The marines had arrived!
THE INVASION FOILED
The moon was in full sight again now, and young camper eyes had become accustomed to the semidarkness of the night. Though some of the timid and frightened girl animals had covered their faces, even they began to peek out now to see what was happening.
Bart Beaver was busy at work with his best construction teeth sawing away at some wood he found just beneath the Lake Laurel monster. "Just as I thought," he mused, wishing he could say it out loud to Officer Otter. It's hard to talk underwater without taking in more water than one desires. Also, the lithe otter was busy himself making an inspection tour.
It was just as he suspected. He knew something most of the others would only learn about later.
Beavers can cut wood mighty fast and have been known to bring big trees crashing down in the forest when need be. Soon a hole was developing in the plank under the "monster," and things changed in a hurry.
The campers on shore could see some kind of activity, and the "monster" seemed to be very frustrated. The "monster" stopped bobbing up and down. The noises turned into a gurgle.
By that time Officer Otter had put his own sharp teeth to work and was biting into a rubbery green something that was hanging down off the wood Bart Beaver had chewed through. They could hear yells and cries *om some kind of creatures above them.
Back to the dock they raced as if they were Olympic swimmers, as indeed they were. Buddy was waiting with a big net that was rolled up into a small package. Poised on a beam under the dock, the big Otter unrolled the net, and Bart Beaver swam to the other side of it, holding the end in his giant teeth.
"Look, the monster is dying! He's all wilting down to nothing," cried Scamper Squirrel, excitedly. Sure enough, the big old green "thing" seemed to just fold up out there, and there was no more tail thrashing in the water. What was happening?
OLD ENEMIES APPEAR
"Some of those voices out there seem familiar." Randy Rabbit was trying to figure it out. "Scamper, you don't 'spose . .
Before Scamper Squirrel could answer him, it was plain to see that the whole noisy and boisterous conglomeration was coming apart. "Looks like a boat out there now," shouted Wally Woodchuck."
"Where did the monster go?"
"Yeah, and who are all those franticlooking creatures?" Charley Chipmunk wanted to know. They could see a ferociouslooking animal, much larger than they were, plunge into the lake and head for shore. Bart Beaver and Officer Otter threw out their net and trapped Wolfgang, one of the meanest timber wolves on the east side of Mighty Mountain.
"What was Wolfgang Wolf doing out there? And where is the monster that seemed so terrifying awhile ago?" cried Roger Raccoon.
The monster had folded up in the water, and it was easy to see now that a boat was sinking out there. The Fable Forest gang soon saw that their old enemy, Freddie Fox, was in the water and was about to escape along the beach, but Sammy Skunk raced ahead and gave him a full blast of special "tear gas" that stopped him, whimpering in his tracks, and Freddie fell to the ground clawing at his face in anguish.
The campers had never seen such an adventure as was unfolding before their very eyes. Two more "creatures" were floundering in the water and very unhappy about getting so wet.
"Why, there's Boris Bobcat and Willie Wildcat climbing out of Lake Laurel. What are they doing here?" Randy cried to Scamper.
Sure enough, two more of Scamper's enemies had emerged dripping from the water and were trying to make their escape. Peter Porcupine shot some very fine quills into their wet hides as Butch Badger tossed a net over their heads. The four culprits were now all in custody.
"You're under arrest for robbery, deception, creating a disturbance, trespassing, invasion of private property, scaring the daylights out of children and threatening to eat young campers alive," shouted Officer Otter as he clamped on the paw cuffs-that is, he shackled three of them, but left Freddie Fox in a special box with holes in it as no one wanted to get near the tear gas which Sammy Skunk had shot in his direction. From then on he was known as the Box Fox.
When Patrolman Porcupine joined his fine assistant officer, you may be sure that Ollie Otter received proper commendation for solving the mystery and apprehending the culprits. How did he know to take Bart Beaver out to the "monster" in the lake? Everyone wanted the answer to that!
At supper that night some of the parents had brought along the latest copy of the Fable Forest Gazette. Officer Otter and Bart Beaver had been sharing the news when something caught their respective eyes. It seems an amusement park had closed down in the distant peopletown of Frenzy Forks. One of the midway attractions had been a rubber dragon which had captivated-and frightened-many PeoplePerson children. It had a hideous big mouth, huge humps on its back and a wildly thrashing tail. Before the dragon could be sold or disposed of, it had been stolen by Wolfgang Wolf, a German timber beast, and his buddy, Freddie Fox. The latter procured the services of Boris Bobcat and Willy Wildcat, and the four of them had cooked up the scheme of scaring the Lake Laurel campers, invading the campsite and helping themselves to various wild game such as squirrel, rabbit, coon and possum.
The mischievous and crafty animals were jealous and angry because they were not allowed to go to the smaller animals' camp, so they had determined to make everyone else as miserable as possible. The dragon had been floated out to a small island on the other side of the lake and had then been fitted and tied on the smaller boat. Much of the dragon hung down over the edge. Some of the animals got inside it to keep the noisemakers going and make the scary threats.
When Bart Beaver chewed a hole in the bottom of their boat, the whole plan began to fall apart. Officer Otter had done the rest when he punctured the dragon monster with his piercing teeth. Butch, Buddy, Sammy Skunk and Peter Porcupine all had a hand in the victory, assisted, too, by our good *lend, Scamper Squirrel.
BACK IN FABLE FOREST
The weary campers returned home, having learned many lessons: The greed, jealousy and anger of the culprits was a warning to all. Good times may often involve some problems, too. Small people can defeat giant foes if they work together. And God, the Creator, is over all.
It was a summer camp they would never forget. The four arrested culprits had to pay for their crimes. And all of the campers knew more than ever that it's best to "Trust and Obey"!
Read these other Scamper Squirrel books:
Adventures in Animal Land
More Dentures in Animal Land
Mystery Stories From Animal Land
Scamper Squirrel Goes to Town
This Sword of the Lord Publishers Pamphlet was used here by permission of Dr. Shelton Smith, publisher of the Sword of the Lord Newspaper. For more information on Sword of the Lord, contact them directly at: Sword of the Lord Publishers PO Box 1099 Murfreesboro, Tn 37133