Slayer of Mini-Bears

on July 26, 2008 in summer camp

Our first morning at Many Point Scout Camp on July 14 was a sunny, cool morning. A jacket was needed, but we knew that within a couple of hours we would be shedding them as the temperature rose. This morning, the troop was in charge of the flag raising at the dining hall before breakfast. We had practiced the commands at our campsite before heading to the hall. The Boy Scouts were a little nervous, but I knew they would do great.

Summers in Minnesota are well known for the critters. The mosquitoes and horseflies are the most dreaded insects in camp. Raccoons and chipmunks can be the two biggest nuisances in camp (other then the Scouts) if the foods, smellables, and garbage are not handled properly. The raccoons do their rummaging at night. The chipmunks, also referred to as mini-bears, are the scavengers during the day.

We arrived at the dining hall a little early to review what we needed to do for the raising of the United States flag. A few staff members and a couple of Boy Scout troops had already arrived. The troops had started forming lines in front of their camp signs. The Troop 68 Scouts and leaders were walking to the flag poles to familiarize themselves with the set-up, and to finalize the commands. As one of the Scouts, Jonah, moved toward the flag pole a mini-bear run out from the nearby high grass with the goal of running between the boys and escaping into the woods. I happened to see it as it ran just inches in front of me…

… and right under Jonah’s foot as he stepped forward. Jonah had not even realized he had stepped on the chipmunk’s head until I told him. He quickly stepped back but by then it was too late.

The little critter was still alive, but its head had been crushed. The animal was laying on its side with its back legs still trying to run. A trickle of blood was leaking from its nose. As its body began to twitch we realized the injuries were critical, and that it would soon die. As one of the adult leaders lifted his foot to end the mini-bear’s suffering we heard a couple younger Scouts saying, “Don’t kill it!” I had to explain to them that the chipmunk’s injuries were too severe, and we needed to end its suffering.

A few minutes later the flag was raised, the Pledge of Alligiance was recited, the Go Bananas song was sung, and the Scouts and leaders entered the dining hall. Food was now on everyone’s minds. The mini-bear was now history. But I and the Scouts shall always remember the little chipmunk who tried to run away but unfortunately ran across the wrong path at the wrong moment.

(By the way, the chipmunk pictured is not the chipmunk of this story. The picture was taken of a chipmunk who found himself trapped in our garbage bag that was hanging on a tree. We allowed him to rejoin his friends in the woods.)

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