When I was almost sixteen, my mother sent me to a weeklong church sailing camp. It was a really great concept. We hiked our boat a mile down a trail and then sailed to the far side of a lake where we were supposed to commune with nature, learn about the Bible, and sail. There were lots of problems with this equation, but my biggest problem was the lack of food. Or at least food I could eat without going into anaphylactic shock.
The counselors had this great idea about fishing for all of our food. First of all, they were really bad fishers, and second, fish kills me. Literally, I might die. Their solution to this was to feed me granola. Just granola, all day. All week. In the middle of day four, after a near death experience that I’ll write about someday when I’m actually in a mood to be serious, I got hungry. And not just a little peckish. No, no. I was freaking hungry. And they tried to give me granola.
I snapped. I felt like we were turning into the Donner party. I wondered if I ate my counselor who had eaten the fish, would I still go into anaphylactic shock? And then I realized that it was summer. I was not surrounded by impassable snow. I would go find food. But I couldn’t go alone, so I flashed a little swimsuit cleavage to two of the boys and convinced them to go forage for food with me. So, we set off into the woods. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: a girl and two boys going off into the woods with no supervision? Like I said, the camp had issues.
I wasn’t stupid enough to go and try to eat random mushrooms. I knew that would probably end in my death. Instead, we hiked the three miles around the lake to a group of houses to beg for food. Because that’s what a logical teenager does. I didn’t want to use our real names or tell them which camp we went to. I didn’t want anybody reporting us missing. So, I decided that our names were Isabel, Max, and Michael. I was paying homage to my favorite TV show at the time: Roswell.
We went up to each of the houses and said we were camping but a bear had eaten all of our food, and our parents weren’t going to pick us up for two days. We then asked if they had anything to spare. And strangely enough, they fed us. We got fruits, vegetables, and even cookies. After we hit about ten houses and were loaded down with enough food to feed the whole group for the rest of our stay, we headed back.
Naturally, I thought I would be kicked out of camp. I was actually rather looking forward to it. We walked into camp laden with our booty. The counselor started to yell, at which point I stated that we hadn’t broken any rules. We had used the buddy system and had told them we were leaving. And there were no explicit camp rules against begging.
I never got to find out if that argument would have worked, because at that very moment, one of the other campers spilled boiling water onto his foot, and our transgression was totally forgotten. They tried to get off his shoe, but it was too late. The skin was already melty and gross. The counselors were stupid and didn’t know how to treat for shock, so I pulled out my scouting skills and did the first aid while the counselors radioed for help. I don’t know why they couldn’t radio for food, but whatever. By the time they were sailing my patient across the lake, I was a hero. We binged on cookies, and they forgot that we had ever disappeared.