A Bear Scare at Camp
Follow Carole as she shares about her bear scare at camp! The unwelcome animal reminded Carole of how much we have to trust God.
Speaking at a Camp
I had an opportunity to speak at a ranch camp for pre-teens. This small camp ran alongside the main camp that week. All the campers did a few activities, like swimming and games together. However, our twenty campers and leaders headed to the corrals after breakfast each day. We began with chapel held on a grassy bit of land under a few trees. This bit of grass lay wedged between a road and the corrals.
Chapel stood between eager young campers and them getting to spend time with the horses. I relied on God to give me the right Bible stories, personal experiences and the ability to hold their attention. I prayed he would open their hearts to the message.
Every evening, after games or swimming, our chapel time happened around the campfire. Three stacked pieces of log became my makeshift podium. A few stars twinkling through tree branches never produced enough light to read any notes and a flashlight would spoil the effect of the moments around the fire. At night the challenge of speaking over the campfire’s crackle and pop and in the dark tested my skills to remember what I wanted to say and the Bible verses to go with it.
Excitement ran high on the last night of camp. Our chapel time started later than on other nights. Night had fully descended. Evergreen trees stood tall behind the spot I spoke, separating the campfire area from the bog behind the trees. The semi-circle, three tiers of rough wooden benches, ascended a small hill in front of me. Tiny pinpricks of starlight in the pitch black sky offered little light. The flames of the campfire between me and the campers on those first two rows of rough benches danced, cracked and popped. They rose higher tonight since the main camp would join us after their time of worship in the chapel building on the other side of camp.
When the singing finished, I stood and laid my Bible on those stacked up logs and looked past the fire’s glow into the expectant faces of the campers. As they settled in to listen to the stories, a silence descended, broken only by the fire’s crackling and the pssst of mosquito repellent being liberally dosed to ward off the pesky, biting insects.
A Bear Scare One Evening
As I finished my story and closed in prayer, the program director stood beside me ready to give instructions for the rest of the evening. She stopped after only a couple words and I wondered why. I looked at her face and then followed her gaze beyond the firelight and the rows of benches to the top of the little rise beyond them. I stared at the black bear rising onto his hind legs not very far away from all of us. Then he dropped to all fours, shook his head and stood again on his hind legs. Obviously he had not just ambled up at that moment. I wondered how long he had been there while I shared God’s Word with the campers.
Breaking the Rules
Finally, the director found her voice. She calmly asked everyone to walk to the girls’ cabin off to our right – the nearest place of safety. One of the boys raised his hand and said, “But we’re not allowed to go to the girl’s side or into their cabins. We’re supposed to obey that rule.”
They had heard this rule over and over all week. We had talked in chapel about obedience. They had listened.
The director said, “This is a one time, special thing we are doing. Even the speaker is coming with us to the cabin. We’ll tell you what happens next once we get there.”
There Was a Bear There!
The children and leaders all walked in quiet obedience to the cabin even though no one had any idea why. As the last one in to the cabin, I closed the door and turned to face many eyes staring at me. Then one of the campers said, “Hey there was a bear out there right. That’s why we got to come in here!”
“Yes. I said. There was a bear. Thanks for listening, even when you did not understand the reason why you were being asked to do something so unexpected.”
Bear Scare Reminds Us to Trust
The fearless program director, or at least she appeared that way to me, chased the bear away by loudly banging pieces of metal together. She phoned the park rangers to come and check things out and warned the other leaders in the chapel about what had transpired.
The bear disappeared into the woods behind the last row of cabins – where I was staying. We were able to continue to enjoy snacks, singing and sharing around the campfire. We received new instructions for the night – no one could go to the washroom alone – go in pairs, make sure a leader was with you and make lots of noise to scare the bear if he came back.
As the fire died down, campers and leaders dispersed for bed. A couple of thoughts jolted me as I walked back to my cabin at the edge of camp. I had no one to go to the washroom, which was a long distance from my cabin, with in the middle of the night and the bear had gone into the woods behind my cabin. I needed to trust God to provide protection in a way unlike anything I had experienced before. I trusted the words of Philippians 4: 13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Sometimes in life, we do not understand the direction God is leading us in or become frustrated when things do not go the way we planned or hoped for. God asks for our obedience even when we don’t know why. I pray we will respond as well as our campers did that last night of camp, allowing us to keep them safe from the bear.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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