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I took my daughter to meet the girls she was heading off with to girls’ camp. It was early in the morning, and I stayed for a short time while the leaders gave last minute instructions.
“And don’t forget,” the director said, “if you hear the bear horn, you are to get into the nearest cabin immediately.”
“Yeah,” a young teenaged junior leader named Lindy said. “You will be safe there.”
Lindy was a senior and fairly typical of the country girls in our community. She was athletic, pretty, and though quite strong, she was still feminine. Seeing her standing there with her long blond hair and her camping gear around her made me smile.
I also laughed to myself at the thought of the bear alarm. I could remember the fire alarm drills all those years in grade school. If it went off, everyone was to get out of the building quickly and safely. But if the bear alarm goes off, everyone is to get inside.
My daughter went off with her group, and I went home to pack for my trip with the scouts to climb Mount Borah. We each had our own adventures, and when I returned sweaty, tired, and with blistered feet at the end of the week, I looked forward to hearing my daughter’s tales of her adventures at girls’ camp.
But when I walked into the house, it was quiet. “Where’s Elli?” I asked my wife, Donna.
She smiled. “Where else? She’s sleeping. I don’t think those girls at girls’ camp ever go to bed.”
I took care of watering the yard and garden, and then took care of other things that needed attention. I worked quite a few hours and finally came in for the evening.
“Where’s Elli?” I asked.
“She still asleep,” Donna replied. “But I think we should wake her up or she won’t sleep tonight.”
I looked at the time—eight o’clock. “That makes a lot of sense,” I replied. “Let’s wake her so she can go back to sleep.”
We did eventually wake Elli so she could eat dinner. “How did the camp go?” I asked. “Did you have any bear problems?”
She nodded. “We were just finishing up dinner on the first evening when the bear alarm went off. We all rushed into the cabin. Then we gathered around in a group and everyone told the scariest stories of bears they knew.”
“I bet that was fun,” I said.
“Yes,” she replied. “But some of the girls started to get really scared and said we should change the subject. So we quit talking and everyone was quiet while we tried to think of something else to talk about. That’s when we heard it.”
“Heard what?” I asked.
“The bear,” she replied. “We could hear it snorting. It was loud and frightening and sounded like it was almost right by us. But the scariest part was that it wasn’t coming from outside. It was coming from inside the cabin.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, some of the girls started to scream. Others were yelling that we should run out of the cabin, but rules said we couldn’t until the all-clear was sounded. We didn’t know what to do. But then one of the older girls calmed everyone, saying it wasn’t a bear. She then pointed at sleeping Lindy and said, ‘That’s the way Lindy snores.’”
I laughed, thinking of sweet, pretty, feminine Lindy snoring loud enough the girls thought it was a bear.
“But,” Elli said, “the worst part was that we didn’t get any sleep at all listening to the same snoring bear every night.”