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A Story to Tell
Helen, Age 11, Calgary, AB

Laura rummaged through the drawers of her dresser, trying to find the perfect clothing for her class’s upcoming camping trip to Kananaskis Park. With only two days left to get packed, everyone (including Laura) was a swarm of alike excitement. When she had finally found five outfits for the week-long trip, Laura called to her mother:

“Mom! I’m done packing! Can we have lunch now?”

“It’s only 12:00, honey! We had breakfast just two hours ago! How can you still be hungry?!”

Laura gave a slight roll of her eyes and replied:

“Fine, I’ll wait.”

             *  *  *

On Monday, Laura returned to school, ready to board the bus that would take them on the two and a half hour journey to Kananaskis Park. Just before the bell was about to ring, she noticed her friend James sprinting towards the school doors, late as usual.

“James!” Laura called out to her friend. “Hurry! You don’t want to miss the camping trip, do you?”

James ran to reach Laura. “Why do you even bother trying to tell me to hurry? You know I take my time.”

As he reached Laura, the bell rang and a stampede of younger children crowded towards the door. Laura and James, unwilling to miss the bus, joined the rush.

             *  *  *

“So, class, when we reach Kananaskis Park, which will be in ten minutes, we will be greeted by Amelia, a park ranger. Please remember to thank her when she finishes her speech about safety concerns and wildlife conservation.”

The class groaned at the mention of a ‘safety speech’ about the awaited trip. Why do we even need to know all this stuff! Thought Laura. We’ve known it since Grade one! Six years later we SHOULD know it!

The bus pulled to a stop in a place filled with trees, mountains and rivers. A cool breeze filtered the enclosed, treed area that opened into a grassy clearing, filled with cabins, which Laura assumed they would be sleeping in.

A young woman with a name tag that stated ‘Amelia Green, Park Interperter’ was standing in the clearing, obviously ready for the herd of children that would race towards her when the bus doors opened.

“So, now that you have reached Kananaskis Park, you have to know some safety rules about the Park. First of all…”

Laura immediately zoned out when Amelia started talking and observed her surroundings. Beyond the clearing was a rocky beach, filled with wood and a fire pit. Laura wondered if the class was going to have a fire at night.

“… So thank you for listening to the short speech that I have prepared for you, and there is one last thing…”

Here Amelia was cut off and the class was joined in a mob of children rushing towards the cabins, trying to get a bunk with their friends, or avoid the teacher’s commands to ‘settle down and get organized’! However, there was one person who stayed to hear the end of Amelia’s sentence. James.

             *  *  *

A few hours later, the sky began to darken and the class was called out of their cabins and into the clearing.

The park interpreter spoke: “Tonight we will join around the campfire to tell stories and, as I told you before…” Amelia was interrupted again by a mob of Grade Sixes rushing to the teacher for instructions.

             *  *  *

Much to Laura’s relief (and most of the class) Amelia left after the class had settled down to sit around the campfire. The murmuring of students was interrupted with:

“A bear!”  Everyone turned to see Julia pointing, obviously extremely frightened. “Right there,” she whispered pointed slightly away from the clearing. And sure enough, there stood a bear, glaring through the trees, looking like he was about to attack. Half of the class screamed and ran away, and the other half jumped into a small rubber dinghy that was tied to a dock, and also screamed. The rope, barely sustaining the weight of ten students, ripped off of its post and began to drift away. Despite the teacher’s attempts to keep order, the class fled in panic.

Yet James still stood on the shore. “Ms. Green!” he called out. “He’s here!”

In a short period of time, the interpreter came running with a rope and a muzzle. “You found him! The zoo will be so thankful!” Amelia said to James. “How did you find him?” Amelia breathed hard from running from her cabin, the farthest from the fire pit.

“Well… actually, I didn’t find the bear. It was Julia who found it first. Everyone ran away in a mad panic, because, of course, they didn’t hear you say that the zoo had lost a bear and it needed to be found.”

“Oh, and by the way, you might want to rescue a rubber dinghy that is probably now halfway down the river. Say to your rescue patrol that it’s filled with a bunch of screaming kids.”

             *  *  *

After the class had been gathered, told of the zoo’s escaped bear and the dinghy rescued, Laura knew that she would have a great story to tell to her family. Why, she could be telling this one for years!

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