pineapples, mountain lions, and caterpillars
"I like you because you’re Asian," said one kid to me while I was working at the hiking department for camp. He kept telling me to walk with him and kept trying to hold my hand. LOL. But I said to him, "I’m American….." HAHA.
So, there’s a hiking rotation here at camp. The kids absolutely hate it. They ask me, “How long is the hike???!?!?!?! I hate hiking…..” I usually respond, “We’re hiking 10 million miles” and with their mouths open wide and their faces scrunched up, they respond, “Are you serious?!?!?! Oh my goodness….I didn’t sign up for camp to go hiking!!!”
We take them on trails in the camp property, which contains 481 acres (1.95 km sq.) We usually make up stories for them or tell them interesting facts when we take our water breaks. We pride ourselves in our great storytelling and tour guide skills. The two trails are White Rock and Strawberry Trail.
Last Tuesday, we took them to Strawberry Trail. To get there, we have to pass by the Ropes Course and through North Village (all the guys’ cabins). The three of us that were instructors for hiking were me, Michelle Pacnatac (I don’t think I spelled that right), and Daniel Marruffo. Whenever one of us is wearing Daniel’s large straw sombrero hat, we are referred to as Ranger by the kids.
On one particular rotation, I was ranger and we were hiking up to Strawberry Trail. We took a break at the start of the trail, where the landscape was decorated with granite boulders, cacti, and palm trees that were about 2 feet tall and barely sticking out of the ground.
(In my Ranger/Tour guide voice) “Hey campers! To your left (pointing at the tiny palm trees), we have PSR grown pineapples.”
"What! Those aren’t pineapples……"
"How do you think our cafeteria serves pineapples? They’re freshly grown."
"Wow! Can we pick some?!?"
We continue on our hike and when we’re on a stretch of the hike. Daniel and I are in the back and he whispers to me, “Hey Kenneth check this out.” On the side of the trail, he starts by making a circle with the side of his closed fist and then with his index finger, he carefully presses into the dirt to create 3 smaller dots above the large one.
Hey kids! Hurry come here!!!” All the kids scurry back from the front of the trail and are wide eyed with curiosity.
"What is it?!"
"Come here, but be very careful. This is a mountain lion’s paw print."
*Oooooooooooh* “Can we touch it?!”
"Yes, but be very careful not to destroy it." The campers come one by one and they all touch the artificial paw print with a super gentle touch and have satisfied smirks on their faces. Maybe if you go hiking on that trail, you could still see the print.
It gets a little better and worse. Better for us instructors, but poor kids. HAHA. This is pure evil and entertainment for the sake of us instructors.
As we continued our hike, the road sorta twists and turns. There is one section where we encounter more boulders, but this time, there are many weeds and plants growing in the midst of the boulders and the path. There was one particular plant that kinda looked like a fancy candlestand, with one main stem and several appendages jutting upward. I need to refresh my memory with plant phyla classification, but I think they kinda look like Bryophyta. Anyway, the appendages were vertical, green, and fuzzy.
"Guys, check out these caterpillars."
"What are you talking about?!"
"Oh…..your parents never told you that caterpillars grow on plants?"
"What!!! You’re lying…."
"Okay fine. You got me. But these are a special type of caterpillars."
"And then, after they grow up, they turn into butterflies!"
And the million dollar question. “Can we touch them??”
"Just be careful. We wouldn’t want to hurt them."
At the end of the hike, I asked the group what their favorite part of the hike was.
One of them said, “My favorite part was the caterpillars!” HAHA.
"You guys learn a lot today?"