I pressed a sweaty hand across the seam of my khaki skirt as I looked out the car window. We had just turned off the main road and were bumping along a gravel trail. We would soon be at the camp site, and I was nervous. I looked at the two other girls in the backseat with me but both appeared to be daydreaming. They didn’t seem as nervous as me. In fact, one was slowly swinging her leg and humming a happy tune.

Gravel crunched under the car for a few more minutes. Then, as the car stopped, we became surrounded by a cloud of dust. While we waited for the dust to settle I said one more quick prayer. Then we grabbed our backpacks and climbed out of the car. I saw the “Welcome Pathfinders” banner and swallowed. Camporees were supposed to be fun, right?

What is going to happen? I wondered. Would we be safe? Where there bears around? How dark would it get at night? What if my flashlight’s batteries stop working?

My two friends started unpacking our pup tent. “Need some help?” I asked.

“Sure,” one replied.

“Grab this end and pull it over there,” said the other. “You can stake it once it’s pulled straight across from the other side.”

We finished with our tent. We dropped our packs and sleeping bags inside and hurried out to find the others. The rest of our club was getting in line.

As we practiced marching, I continued to think about the camporee. Would I be able to use the portable bathroom okay? Would the kids from other clubs be nice to me? What if I messed up our drills? What if I fell on the obstacle course?

Surprisingly, the entire club did our drill just right. No errors, no missteps. Everyone ran back to camp when we were dismissed. We were hungry. Several church moms had come along and a tasty meal was ready for everyone. As we ate, a few campers from a different club came over. They were so friendly! We promised to meet up with them later. The rest of the day was filled with more camp set-up and fun.

It was really dark when we put out our camp fire. As I snuggled into my sleeping bag, I turned on my flashlight and shared a grin with my tent-mates. We were so excited about church the next day, and the fun activities that would follow. Also,
someone had hinted that we might get pancakes for breakfast!

I said my prayers in that dark tent and drifted off to sleep. I was so glad I had come to the Pathfinder camporee! I knew things would be okay—and sure enough, they were.

Well, except for the portable bathroom. But that’s a story for another time.
                                                                                                    --Kimberly Luste Maran