Flashback Friday: An alarming experience

I won't go so far as to say that I am really out of FF stories, but since there are extenuating circumstances today (traveling to Egypt, etc.), you get a repeat. This was the first Flashback Friday ever, originally published 29 August 2008. Enjoy!

Sometimes I think of random stories from the past that would be fun to tell here on the blog, but I can't think of a way to introduce them as anything other than random stories from the past. So I'm thinking of instituting a Flashback Friday so that at least they can be cohesive random stories from the past. For the next few Fridays, I think the theme will be camping. I can't guarantee that there will always be a theme, or that I'll always be able to post them on Fridays, but here goes.

Also, a disclaimer: many of these stories will feature old friends, or maybe even newer ones, many of whom are readers of this blog. I apologize in advance if I get any details wrong. I'll always tell the story how I remember it, and if you remember it differently, tough. Feel free to correct me (or add to my memories) in the comments section.

One more disclaimer: I'm going to post photos, and some of you are in them with me, and we don't always look good. Maybe I should ask for permission first, but you know what? I don't know that I would get it, and I really want to post these photos. So let me know if you really, really don't want a photo of your 14-year-old self on my blog and I'll see if I can blur your face or something.

First, some background: For those of you who are not young Mormon women, Girls' Camp is a week-long, girls-only camping trip for youth ages 12ish to 18ish. The younger girls are divided into groups of 6 or 8 and then looked after by the older girls, who are counselors, usually in pairs. In the place and time that I went to Girls' Camp, we slept in rustic cabins featuring spider-infested bunks, at a large private (? - or at least rentable) campground. However, the specific location and accommodation style of Girls' Camp varies around the country

I have a lot of, um, interesting memories from Girls' Camp. I'll be completely up front here and admit that I didn't always enjoy the experience. In fact, I attended as few years as possible, basically the absolute minimum while still being a good sport about it. Though the "good sport" part is debatable. But I believe I'm in the minority on that point - most of my friends loved Girls' Camp and went back year after year and were eventually given general leadership positions over the whole thing.

Anyway. Girls' Camp, June 1996: our freshman year of high school had finished just a week or two earlier, and we were officially Counselors in Training, or "K.I.T.s" (don't ask about the spelling). This meant we got to go on a cool overnight hike in the woods and had just a few counselors over our entire age group instead of in our individual cabins.

Most of my memories of that year revolve around writing things on our backs in sunscreen and then lying out by the pool, losing my watch and then having a fellow camper "find" it and return it to me a few days later, being annoyed by the fact that "soccer" was misspelled as "soccor" on one of the camp signs, and singing the song "We Love You [so-and-so], Oh Yes We Do" many more times than was reasonable.

Some of my fellow KITs. Erin's head is blocking the offending "O."

But one morning, very, very early in the morning, the smoke detector in our cabin went off. Being the sleepy teenagers we were, I think a few of us lifted up our heads enough to see that the cabin was not, in fact, on fire. And then we went back to sleep.

Or at least we tried to. That dang fire alarm just kept going off, and off, and off, and soon, nobody was getting any rest. But neither was anybody doing anything about it, besides putting pillows over our heads in an attempt to drown out the noise.

And then, in a moment that made her my personal hero, my fellow camper Jennifer actually got out of bed and decided to take matters into her own hands. She somehow got ahold of a large stick (tree limb is probably a better word - it was big) and, without any explanation or warning to the rest of us, promptly started bashing away at the smoke detector.

When I heard the racket, I peeked out from under my pillow to see what was going on. There was Jennifer, beating that smoke detector for all she was worth. Gradually, the high-pitched whine of the alarm descended and faded until it was silent. If I had bothered to look for it, I would probably have seen the smoke alarm crumpled in a heap of mangled plastic on the floor of the cabin.

And then you know what? We all went back to sleep. I think even Jennifer went back to bed. And we woke up a couple of hours later like nothing had happened. Certainly nothing like a teenaged girl destroying our cabin's main fire safety feature. Everything was back to normal.

14-year-old me with my hero, Jennifer.

Except for the part where we were chased by a bear in the middle of the night. But that's a story for another time.

Thoughts en route to Cairo

WE LEAVE FOR EGYPT TOMORROW.