Blueberry Lane Herb Farm
Summer Camp friends
The dismissal bell finally rang, and the students stuffed their report cards into well-worn backpacks. The school halls echoed with cheers and well wishes for a happy summer vacation. When the doors flung open, they merrily skipped down the steps with a sense of freedom.
Guinevere, Pedro, and Rasmus meandered home, occasionally nibbling on wild blueberries along the way. They looked forward to lazy mornings and afternoon naps. They talked about picnics by the pond and staying up late to watch the flicker of fire flies in the evening sky. They had the whole summer to lollygag around, except for the two weeks they were scheduled to volunteer at camp for shelter animals with special needs.
Once home, they dropped their backpacks by the front door and ran to the kitchen for a snack. While Coral Bell prepared a tray of fresh veggies, Tilly made it her business to snitch the report cards. With three report cards dangling from her beak, she flew up to the third-floor library to read the teacher’s comments in private. Rasmus had a stellar report card, no juicy news in there. Pedro received a gold star for his progress with English. Tilly felt proud since she was bilingual and helped him with homework. Guinevere’s report card was the most interesting. The teacher wrote, “Guinevere earned the title of Class Socialite and Best Bad Fur student. Her grades will improve if she talks less in class and spends less time untangling her fur from the many things it gets caught in. Perhaps if she had a fur cut, she could concentrate more.”
Tilly screeched in laughter while she imagined Guin gabbing during class, fiddling with her fur, and getting it caught in things. Tilly fluttered to the bulletin board where Coral Bell displayed important things, like seed packets and reminders. She pinned the report cards next to the summer camp flyer, and then checked Coral Bell’s calendar. Camp was penciled in from July 8 to July 19. Satisfied that camp was properly scheduled, she flew downstairs to the kitchen for some sunflower seeds.
“Tilly, what was that screech for? We heard you all the way down here. Hmm, you look oddly suspicious. What have you been up to?” Coral Bell asked. Tilly screeched in laughter again. She laughed so hard she could barely talk, “Guinevere was voted the Class Socialite and Best Bad Fur student for the school year! Imagine that! The teacher said she should mind her own bee’s wax, not talk so much, and get a fur cut!”
Guinevere hollered, “Don’t be a tattle tale Tilly, and I’m not getting a fur cut. No way! Besides, my fur needs to be long because I am a long-haired guinea pig. Really, who ever heard of a long-haired guinea pig with short hair? Plus, I want to have pig tails for summer camp. I’ll look super cute!” Everyone started laughing because the teacher was right. Guinevere is a socialite, and her long fur always causes some sort of fiasco.
Crickety creek….. Bumpety bump….. bump….. bump
Pedro opened one eye, half awake, from his nap. He had the notion he should be doing something. He stayed curled up under the sofa until he heard the creaking floor boards in the attic. Then he recognized the familiar sound of the luggage as it bumped down the attic stairs.
Rasmus commanded everyone to attention with his thumping. “Yoo-hoo everyone. It’s time to pack for camp.” He sat up tall and straight and gave directions, “Neatly fold your clothes, pack your grooming brushes and a few snacks. Guinevere, pack only play clothes, no fancy dresses or hats. We leave early tomorrow morning.”
Guinevere rolled her eyes, “Rasmus, never mind what I pack. You don’t know anything about wardrobes for girls. More importantly, we must decide what games and toys to bring. The shelter doesn’t have much to play with.”
Pedro nervously chewed on rye fidget sticks, and then he started to whimper. “Señor Rasmus, tengo mucho miedo de los animales en el refugio. ¿Cómo sabré con quién es bueno jugar? ¿Y si me persiguen? ¿Y si no quieren ser amigos?” (Senor Rasmus, I am so afraid of the animals at the shelter. How will I know who is nice to play with? What if they chase me? What if they don’t want to be friends?)
Rasmus sat down in his thinking position. His tall ears pivoted forward. His eye brows bunched together. Rasmus was an intelligent rabbit, and he wanted to give Pedro thoughtful answers. He replied with confidence, “Coral Bell and the shelter workers will pair us with animals who are safe. Some of them might be shy or afraid of us since we’re strangers. They might feel uneasy because they have special needs. Remember, they don’t have friends outside of the shelter. Pedro, instead of thinking about yourself, think about them. Consider what you can do for them instead of what is hard for you to do. That way you can make camp fun. Plus, maybe you’ll make a lifelong friend!” Pedro liked Rasmus’s sage advice, so he pushed his fidget sticks aside and started packing.
Tilly and Guinevere nodded in agreement. “I never thought of it like that Rasmus. I was only thinking about how I can entertain them, like singing and fancy flying tricks,” Tilly cackled. Guinevere added, “Yeah Rasmus, I knew you would have a good answer, because every time your eyebrows bunch up, you say something pretty smart. If they don’t bunch up, then I know that you aren’t sure of what you’re talking about.” Ramus scowled at Guin’s observation. He thumped his rear leg out of aggravation.
Clippity Clop … Clippity Clop … Clippity Clop
It was time to leave for camp! Coral Bell harnessed Boulder Hill to the pony cart out by the barn. One by one, they hopped in the cart. Rasmus barely made the leap with his heavy backpack stuffed with favorite books. Guinevere brought jingly balls to play catch and soccer. Pedro’s sack overflowed with snacks. Tilly packed a pouch of sunflower seeds and pick up sticks.
Boulder Hill pulled the cart through the countryside and into town, stopping once while a herd of sheep crossed Pottersville Lane. On the ride to the shelter, they were a little nervous about volunteering at camp since they didn’t know who they would meet. Coral Bell reminded them of very important virtues: always be a patient, always put others first, and always be compassionate. This was a time to reach deep into their hearts to share kindness and strong moral character.
Pedro was so nervous, he nibbled hay all the way to the shelter. Tilly rode on top of Boulder Hill, perched right between his ears. Guinevere and Rasmus enjoyed the scenery and the scent of wild honey suckle in the air. When they arrived, they were introduced to their assigned camp buddies.
Rasmus was happy to be assigned as camp buddy to another rabbit. He was told that his buddy walked quite slow and did not hop. Rasmus eagerly went to meet his buddy, but he immediately noticed how timid the buck looked. He approached him slowly and sat near to greet him, “Hello, my name Rasmus. I would like to be your camp pal.” The buck turned toward him and grumbled, “Why would you want to be my pal? No one else does.”
Rasmus pitched his ears forward to think. He could not imagine how life would be without hopping and binkying around. After a few moments, he quietly responded, “Because you are unique, and there is only one you. I would be honored to be your pal if you would like to have one. What is your name?” The buck replied, “My name is Skylar. I spend most of my time just sitting, day dreaming, and napping. It is too hard to play, so I don’t. You see, I have problems with my legs. I have arthritis, and it’s hard to move around. It’s not fun to be me. Plus, I was separated from my sisters, and I miss them. My heart is sad every day. I’m afraid I’m not very good company. So, you can leave now.” Rasmus encouragingly said, “Skylar, I’m pleased to meet you. I like to bun loaf, day dream, and nap too! Let’s try napping together for a little while. Skylar agreed, but still did not understand why Rasmus would want to spend time with him.
Guinevere and Pedro were both assigned to one very energetic camper who needed extra attention. They were directed outside to meet her. The sound of the door closing alerted the camper to their arrival. She turned to watch them. She was wearing a harness with two wheels attached, like a wheel chair. Guin gave her a friendly wave. As they walked toward each other, the dog’s smile got bigger and bigger. And Pedro got more and more nervous. He started to shake. He hid behind Guin, pulled her pig tails and whispered, “I see great big teeth!” Guin yelped, “Ouch, Pedroooo! Why did you pull my piggy’s? Now they are probably lopsided!” The black and tan dog gave Guin a gentle nudge with her nose and introduced herself as Flash. She playfully peeked around Guin to see Pedro, who laughed a nervous laugh. She kept playing peek-a-boo until both Pedro and Guin were silly with laugher. She was a happy German Shepherd with lots of personality. She quickly earned Pedro’s trust. Pedro even felt safer with Flash nearby. She was outgoing and confident, yet sensitive to her surroundings.
Tilly flew around the shelter campus. She swooped up and down, did fancy tricks, then perched in a tree to watch the happenings. She discovered the aviary, where the birds live in a natural habitat like the woods. Visiting butterflies were all around too. She spied a little baby parakeet looking very lonely. The baby bird did not know its name or why it was there or where her mama was. Tilly cuddled next to her. She wrapped her green wings around the baby and rocked her back and forth. Each time she rocked the baby bird, Tilly sang sweet, soft lullabies. Tilly continued to mother her every day during the two weeks of camp.
At the end of the day, Coral Bell and Boulder Hill had to return to Blueberry Lane Herb Farm. She gathered everyone together review the camp schedule and assignments. While each day promised fun activities for everyone, Pedro was already starting to miss Coral Bell. She gave everyone a squeezy hug and reminded them how much she loved them. After a good night’s sleep, they were ready to start their official assignments as camp buddies.
The next day, during breakfast they mingled around and made more friends before the activities began. Rasmus signed up to read at story time since he was well prepared with his favorite books. Pedro volunteered to chaperone a group of small animals on pontoon rides around the lake. Guinevere organized the arts and crafts area. Tilly decided to flutter around and help where ever she could. There were other activities like playing catch, card games, hiking, and night time camp sing-a-longs.
Weaving friendship bracelets was one of the craft projects Guin led. She directed the campers, “First measure the wrist size, then take three strands of embroidery floss to make a braid. Halfway through, pick out the beads to spell your friend’s name and string them on the floss. Then braid the rest.” She first demonstrated how to braid, then went around the room to assist the campers. Uproars of uncontrollable laughter broke out. Guin was flustered in wonder,
“What’s so funny?” One of the campers pointed a paw toward her shoulder. Blushing with embarrassment, Guin nearly fainted when she saw that her fur was woven with the floss and onto herself!
Flash loved to be on the go. She didn’t let her disability stop her from joining the group for games of catch and trail hikes. Pedro and Guinevere escorted her to keep her safe. They warned her of bumpy terrain and cleared objects out of the way of her “wheel chair”. Pedro quickly learned not to “judge a book by it’s cover”. Although Flash was bigger than Pedro, she was a loyal camp pal with a zest for living life to the fullest.
Each afternoon, Rasmus and Skyler buddied up and spent time together. They made up their own version of soccer by pushing jingly balls to each other with their noses. They bun loafed and napped in the shade. At the end of camp, Skyler asked again why Rasmus befriended him. Rasmus explained, “Skyler, I like you for being you, and I like our friendship. I like to talk about the things we have in common. I don’t mind that you can’t hop, it’s OK if you walk slow. What matters the most is the dedication of a real friend.” Skyler rested his head on his paws. For the first time ever, he felt the love of a true-blue friend.
When camp came to an end, teary good-byes were soothed with the promise of continued visits and friendships. They were promises from the hearts of Rasmus, Pedro, Guinevere and Tilly. When they arrived home, once again, they were thankful for the many blessings of a warm and happy home, good health, and each other to love.
And here are some coloring pages! Just click to download.