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Monday, May 23, 2011

Camp Tales - The Freezer

The first summer I was at camp, I started the summer off with cleaning, organizing, sorting and taking a general account of supplies. (This would become typical for the beginning of these summers at camp.) I had become begrudgedly accustomed to finding the the occasional dead furry thing amongst the boxes of yarn, fabric, popsicle sticks, old magazines, markers, beads, thread, & so on. (I had an agreement with the Head Naturalist/Environmental Ed Director that as long as I didn't freak out over the dead things or the live ones I came across, he would make one of the naturalists remove the dead animal from my space.) It was common to come across where animals had sought refuge bedding and food especially during the old months when the raft Hall was closed up. I had entire cardboard box of twine that had been so destroyed from wintering mice, that I ended up heaving into the dumpster.

As I cleaned that first summer, I found any things from summer's past as I sorted through through boxes crates, spider webs, and dirt. As I moved boxes I was prepared for things that moved, slithered, and crawled. Beneath a pile of boxes I found an old freezer. It was a smallish chest freezer, still decorated with ice cream stickers from when it had lived once in the camp store. It was not uncommon to use old freezers for storage against ravaging critters and I wondered if it still worked or if it was full of more craft supplies. I opened the lid slowly, not sure what I would find, but not prepared for what I did find. Eyes stared up at me, but not the living kind. I slammed the lid tightly, before slowly opening it again. It was a working freezer full of carefully wrapped dead birds and tiny mice and baby bunnies mostly in clear plastic. For a moment it felt like something from a horror film and I was suddenly recalling how any such films took place at a summer camp deep in the woods. I didn't scream. I didn't yell I didn't run. I quietly closed the lid and left it be until I could figure out what the heck was going on with a freezer of dead animal in my Craft Hall.

I found out later about the freezer and like with any things there was a reasonable explanation. Our camp had a full Nature enter full of stuffed animals that had died of natural causes. Some of the birds and creatures were ones that they were waiting to be taken to the taxidermy when funds were made available. We were also a Bird of Prey Rescue and the frozen mice and baby bunnies were ones that were used to be to be cut up and fed to injured birds in need of food. (It made me very glad not to be one of the Naturalists that this task often fell to.) It all made sense when explained, but looking back the explanation would have been nice to come BEFORE I opened a freezer of dead animals looking up at me.

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