It was a burning, sweat dripping, clothes sticking, ice cream melting day in 2011. My family and I had just finished packing up all of our camping gear and clothes we would need for the long trek to Fort Stevens for a week camping with our friends from Church. It was an annual trip where we would wake up early, bike ride all day, have a talent show, jump off big hills of sand, and swim in the ocean. As a seven year old I remember it was one of the longest car rides. I just wanted to get there and see all of my friends and start this adventure that was sure to be the highlight of my summer. We finally pulled into our campsite a little while after lunchtime.
“Finally, I can go ride my bike and explore the campground,” I thought to myself. I looked at my brother and could tell he was thinking the same thing. We both walked around to the back of the car as my parents opened the trunk. My dad cleared his throat, I knew what was coming.
“Wait, you have to help too,” My brother and I exchanged disappointed looks as we trudged back to help unload the car. After what felt like 100 times of trying to set up the tent we finally got it and staked the tent into the ground. My brother, Mark, and I ran to get our bikes and helmets.
“Ride safe, and check in every fifteen minutes.” My mom yelled to us, but we were already gone. Using all my energy and strength in my legs I tried to keep up with my brother, who was, to his advantage, two years older. We rode around the big loop we were in and tried to find some of our friends. We could see some of their parents and asked where they went.
“The kids are all bike riding right now in the center forest area of the loop.” One parent said to us as we rode by. My brother and I picked up our pace and hugged the center of the circle trying to find an opening in the forest area. We finally did and swerved to the right to get into the path. We rode over the bumps and cracks of tree stumps in the ground until we caught up with everyone. We screeched to a stop and saw everyone at an opening through the bushes and lush leaves. It was like something right out of a movie. We all crowded in and saw a huge tree toppled over from a storm and laying on its side against another. There was what looked like perfect stairs leading up to the monster of a tree for anyone willing to walk across the fallen branches. It was about ten to fifteen feet off the ground but looked like a skyscraper's height from our point of view. It was a kids paradise and a perfect playground that had just fallen into place one night. One of the boys in our group, being the daring ten year old he was, decided to venture up to the beast. That’s when it happened, we started to hear some buzzing and he backed up. My brother signaled me and I realized it had been about fifteen minutes and we needed to tell our parents where we were.
“ Um, we have to go check in with our mom,” my brother said. The other kids and us started to get out of the opening.
“We can come back later,” said one of the girls.
“That sounds good,” Someone else replied. We all agreed we would meet up later and come back here and mess around. The next morning, I woke up with one thing on my mind. I could hear the pitter patter of rain against our tent. My air mattress was all deflated and my sleeping bag was ice cold. But that couldn’t get me down, we were camping. By the time everyone else got up and ate breakfast and had the first bonfire of the day it had stopped raining. Later that day we went back to the logs. We all got up and started to play up there. We dared one of our friends, Jojo, to try to walk across it. She was almost to the other end and we were all excited and cheering her on. She had grabbed on a branch above to hold on for balance. Suddenly a smaller log that was balanced on the big log rolled off. She started yelling and we all knew something was going to go wrong. One of the older kids ran out on there bike to get another parent. I remember it being a really long time before anyone got there. We had all calmed Jojo down a little bit and she wasn't yelling anymore. The older kid that went to get a parent reappeared.
“It’s gonna be fine, I went and got a parent and they're right behind me.” In a few minutes the parent got there. The dad got up on the branch and started to walk across, he grabbed Jojo and brought her down safely. We were all glad she was safe. Soon we were back at our campground receiving a good scolding from our parents.
“What were you thinking.” My mom said.
“You should have never gone in there.” My dad replied.
“I’m sorry.” My brother and I both said simultaneously. I knew that from now on I should never go back in there, even though it was so fun and Jojo didn’t get that hurt and I really wanted a turn to go across the mountainous log. A few days later we were nearing the end of the trip. It had been awesome, we went to the beach and jumped through the waves, won the talent show for the year that came with a big bag of candy, and had too many s'mores to count. But there was one thing I hadn’t done. In the afternoon we headed off on our bikes and scooters for a fun ride, but soon were sidetracked by the opening in the woods.
“It couldn't hurt to go in one more time.” My brother said.
“Yeah I guess.” Another kid replied. We started onto the path and rode until we got to the next opening again. We walked right in, I was so ready to get up there and prove to everyone how cool I was.
“What's that sound?” Our friend Jack said in a concerned voice.
“Uh-oh.” his sister Grace replied.
“It’s fine.” someone chimed in. We stepped up and the buzzing sound became more apparent.
“Whose first?” someone said.
“Me.” said Jack. Everyone started up the stairs until Jack yelled, then a few more people yelled. I had no idea what was going on, but found out in the past few days we had managed to disturb a wasp nest that Jack had just stepped on. They screamed in pain and we all backed up and ran out to our bikes. Everyone rode out and all the parents came to see what was wrong.
“Some people got stung by bees.” My brother said. All the parents exchanged looks and every kid went back to their campsites with their parents.
“Were you back near the log?” My mom asked angrily.
“Yes.” My brother and I responded shamelessly. All of the kids ended up getting lots of punishments that night, but in the long run I gained something pretty important. This happened a long time ago but I still remember it so clearly. It taught me to listen to my parents because 99% of the time they’re right. I’m really glad we discovered this little fallen tree six years ago. It taught me something and gave me memories that I can laugh at and never forget.