Rubber Ducks, Sunglasses and Bears… Oh my!

Recently I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local camp. Though I knew to expect adventure, fun, and utter madness, I never anticipated mystery.

The first night I was there we had a rubber duck race in the creek (or “crik” if you’d prefer the local vernacular). After the races, the campers went to the snack shack for a before-bed snack, high in sugar and caffeine (everyone loves Snapple and chocolate… hey it was girls’ week!). Watching the little darlings line up to pay for their snacks, I was grateful I could go home and sleep in my own bed and not have to endure wound up, adrenaline pumped, sugar high, caffeine-stoked girls on the first exciting night at camp.

“Where’s Skunky?” one girl asked. For me, “skunk” and camp and girls in the same sentence never seems like a good thing, but who am I to judge?

“Skunky?” I asked.

“It’s my duck. I colored it black.” The girls had all been allowed to design their rubber ducks with permanent markers before the race.

“I left him by the swings,” she explained. I noted the deepening darkness and pointed out that finding a black object in the shadows of the night might not be so easy.

“Oh, he’s mostly yellow again. The water washed off most of the black.” So much for permanent markers.

So, I set about a localized search of a not-black-yellow-duck named Skunky. And though I diligently proceeded through a methodical search grid, Skunky was nowhere to be found. The camper took it good-naturedly, drowning her minimal disappointment in a bottle of Snapple and a chocolate bar. A missing duck’s report has been filed.

A few days later another mysterious disappearance happened. While we were eating a yummy grilled dinner at Kinzua Lake, two burgers left on the grill to finish cooking, vanished. Because of yet another downpour, the group was under some shelter a distance away from the location of the alleged crime. There were no witnesses. However, one vague clue presented itself this time. The tin the burgers were sitting on was flipped over onto the ground. This was clearly not the work of any two-legged creature or even a winged creature. It is strongly suspected that a four-legged, black, furry animal stole the burgers. No solid proof was ever uncovered, so the allegations had to be dropped.

The next day another disappearance electrified the camp. While out shooting for archery, a pair of sunglasses disappeared. Again, we diligently and methodically proceeded through a search grid, but the missing sunglasses remained unfound.

These mysteries remain unsolved, though a passerby at the archery spot allegedly claimed to spot a bear wearing sunglasses, carrying a mostly yellow rubber duck. Though an APB has been issued, no further clues have been discovered, and the whole case has been filed away as “unsolved.”

If you have never volunteered at a camp before, I highly recommend it. The only skills you need are a love for kids and an advanced degree in forensic criminology.