You’re a teenager at summer camp as a junior counselor (a SAM, if you will). The best part of the day is when the campers are in bed and the SAMs can run amuck through the camp… safely, of course. One night the group decides to play sardines in the dark. (Sardines, if you’ve never played it is like reverse hide-n-seek – one person hides, and everyone else has to find them and hide with them.) The dark adds a creepy level to this game, plus you never know who could be around a corner waiting to scare you. You decide to quietly and quickly dart across to the other side of the basketball court to see if anyone is hiding in the shadows. After trepidly peaking around a few corners and deciding that this part of the grounds is just to scary, you turn and start back across the basketball court to where a few other scaredy cats are waiting by the drinking fountains. Then you see it.
And it’s hissing.
It is the biggest, fattest raccoon you have ever seen. And suddenly you realize you are inbetween it and the closest garbage can. And it is hungry.
Yep, it happened to me. And I did what any other teenage girl would have done in that situation. I screamed. I screamed as loud and as high as I could and ran faster than I ever have before in my life (and probably since). You’re probably thinking, “So what? It was just a raccoon.” But this wasn’t just any raccoon. It was a Camp Manitoqua raccoon. They are known for their viciousness and cleverness. If you walked through camp alone at night, a pack of them would find you and chase you. The only way to walk safely through camp at night was in small groups.
Knowing all this, I wasn’t going to let this raccoon get a bite out of me. I ran screaming for my friends by the drinking fountains, knowing I’d be safer in a group. By the time I got to them, I was shaking so hard that I fell into a hysterical, mumbling heap. Once I finally told them what all the drama was about, they looked at me and said, “What raccoon?”
Of course they hadn’t seen it. But it was real – I saw its little white fangs!