Everybody Has a Story: ‘Mother Nature’ goes to bat at summer camp



Mother Nature had a sense of humor.

As a young girl of 10, I was a bit nervous about going away to Camp Osceola, a weeklong summer camp. But that didn’t last long, and soon I was canoeing, hiking, eating in a big mess hall, sitting around a campfire each night and having the time of my life. I had this joy for the next six years, and eventually even worked as a camp counselor.

That very first year, I met “Mother Nature” — a beautiful woman with tan skin and pure white hair who knew everything about nature. I remember to this day so many of her lessons. I remember the names of the pines in that California forest — Jefferson, Coulter and ponderosa — because she taught me to think of JCPenney. I remember she told me if I could find a one-foot-long branch of Manzanita that was perfectly straight, I could get in the Guinness Book of Records.

Late-night hike

Most of all I remember the animals. She was always nursing some poor creature, and we got up close with all of them. Squirrels, deer, an owl and even a skunk. Each night when we would see bats flying through the woods, and she would educate us about what wonderful creatures they were, and what a bad rap they got from the horror movies. She promised us, if we studied hard, she would take us on a special late-night hike to see a real bat. So we immersed ourselves in studies of nature, wildlife and botany, until finally the night arrived.

We marched for more than a mile into the deep woods and then got very silent. “Mother Nature,” whose real name was Nancy, pointed to a tall Jefferson pine just ahead of us. She told us to approach very quietly with flashlights at the ready, and to circle the tree, and then on her command we would all look skyward. She promised we would see a bat. We followed her command and aimed our flashlights high into the tree, and to our surprise … we saw a red baseball bat tied to the trunk of the tree.

After we realized we had been duped, we couldn’t get angry, because the late-night hike was pretty fun. “Mother Nature” told us bat stories all the way back to camp.

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