It was in the middle of this internal debate of desperately wanting sleep but not being able to get cozy, when I suddenly heard a CRUNCH happen right outside my tent. Clearly, the branches, pine needles, and rocks were being stepped on by something, about two feet from my head. I suddenly froze all movement, including breathing, and listened again. CRUNCH CRACKLE. There it was again.
I silently turned my head so my face was right against the edge of the tent, and I saw a large shadow move across the tent, right at the corner where I was lying. Oh Crap.
I sat up quickly, put an arm around EmilieAn's curled-peacefully-sleeping body, pulled her tight against me so she would be safe from the edge of the tent, and whispered to her to wake up. Then I called over to Marci, who was sleeping at the other end of the tent. At this point, I was struck with fear that a bear was inches away from me, and unable to accurately inform EmilieAn and Marci what I desperately wanted to say, so all I said to Marci was "Pray!".
She woke up, and tells me later that she said something to the effect of "Please bless Shaina that she won't be crazy and freak out at whatever's bothering her".
They both question me. "What's up? Why are you waking us up?" I finally get some words through that I heard crunching of something big walking right outside our tent, and that I saw a shadow move across the tent as well.
Then, as if on cue, we all heard another crunching sound coming from outside the tent. So EmilieAn gets her phone out and calls Scott (who was one of the priesthood brethren there at camp, but was also the father of one of our girls, and a friend to us). I hear her say "Scott...we think there's a bear outside our tent. Come quick!"
Within a few minutes, we see lots of flashlights and hear people checking out our campsite and around our tent. They don't say anything to us, but after about half an hour, the other two are back asleep and I am left lying there in the dark, wondering if it really was a bear. However, for the rest of the night, I saw them patrolling the area every 30 minutes or so, so I knew I was safe.
Now, I'm known for talking in my sleep, and especially waking up but still being in that groggy between phase, and still being completely inconsolable and undeterred from believing I was still in my dream. I started to wonder if I had dreamed of the noises and the shadows, and not realized I was dreaming. I was still filled with doubt when I got up that morning, and headed to the showers.
After an hour or so, I saw Scott in the kitchen, helping with breakfast. I asked him if they found anything. We were surrounded by people who were interested in our conversation, and Scott replied "There was a cow." A cow? Well, I guess I didn't make up the sounds and shadows then. At least that was good. I felt pretty silly for all the worry...over a cow.
So, later, another few ladies from the Stake camp came over and chatted with me. One of them said she was up around 2-ish in the morning, going to the bathroom, and she told me she saw a bear. Another one said she heard something in the middle of the night as well...then she told me "Feel validated. There was a bear. You were justified in feeling scared, and calling the men to come patrol the area"
Still, why did they say it was a cow?
I went back to my campsite after breakfast, and looked to the side of the tent to see if I could see any tracks. Lo and behold, there was an excellent bear print, just two feet from the edge of my tent. I took a picture of it, and then went to find the priesthood brethren, so they could see too. A cow? I don't think so.
It was then I discovered that they didn't want to scare all the girls, so they said it was a cow. I was a little frustrated that they didn't tell me outright, but understand why they did what they did.
So, the rest of the day proceeded nicely for the girls. They had some morning activities and certifications. They had time at camp to write letters and words of encouragement to each other.
We had this clothesline of note pockets, for each of the girls to write nice things about each other, every day that they were there.
But Marci held her ground and was ready to give out punishments for stepping over the line!
Kamy and I, on day 3 of camp!
Marci fell asleep a bit later, and with just EmilieAn and I left at camp, we decided to have some fun. We took lots of pictures, with EmilieAn doing crazy stuff around her.
When we were prepping this next picture, which we lovingly call "the weekend at Bernie's" picture, she woke up and said "What are you two crazies doing?" We managed to talk her into getting back in her sleep mode so we could finish the picture.
About 3pm, we had time with our buddy ward. We were supposed to host them for an hour or two, and play games, learn things about each other, and provide a snack. So we played a fun game with them and had a great time.
So we all went into our little pavilion closet, which is just big enough to fit camp supplies, a shelf or two, and some of our totes. The girls were organized and calm, but scared. We had another ward sharing our campsite,so they had to squeeze in too, along with all the leaders. We had about 30 people squeezed in on top of eachother, and it was then we noticed there was a lot of emotions going on. We calmed girls, we comforted them, and we prayed that everyone would be safe.
After about 10 minutes, we all came out, but had to stay in our camp sites. We learned that the bear was about 30 feet away, and Leah had discovered it as she was walking back to our camp. The bear came back in our area two more times, but each time was chased away.
With patrols being made constantly in the area, we continued with our activities by having dinner and a fashion show afterwards. Each group received a theme and a bag of random items that we needed to turn into modest clothes. Kamy was our model, and we all swarmed around her to dress her appropriately.
There was a 'runway' that the girls walked down, as well as a narrator from each group who put together a story about the outfit.
Once again, we found ourselves back at camp. We had moved the girls' tent right next to our tent (it was previously about 20 feet away) to make the girls feel more safe (and it made us feel better too) and so we felt better about where we were, even with the frequent bear sightings.
We were in the middle of another group activity, where we were doing a service auction, when Marci looked over and saw a bear, standing about 20 feet away in the trees, just watching us. We all got in our closet again, and sent the men (and Leah) running after the bear to chase him away.
Once again, about 30 minutes later, we saw him come back. At this point, it was clear that he liked our area. Whether it was his home, or where he came out of the woods at, our site was his point of entry. None of the other camp sites were having any spottings. It was just us.
There was debate over whether to move us to another campsite, but at this point, it was 9pm and would have been more work than we wanted. Plus, the priesthood brethren moved their camp into our campsite, and were going to keep the fire going all night and patrol constantly. We felt like it would be ok. We also had an opportunity to discuss with the girls the power of faith and prayer, and we asked a special blessing be upon us and our camp, for safety and security.
Plus, we had Leah and her axe protecting us all night!
A few times throughout the night, I remember calling out to the men that I heard something behind my tent. They were always there in seconds, so I know they were watching over us very well that night. I think I managed to get a few hours of sleep...finally!