They stopped at the park campground first. The children tumbled out of the bus and rushed into the cabin and found it to be a large, rustic log cabin with a large open area that contained a well equipped kitchen, a large dining table and living area with lots of couches and chairs that faced a huge stone fireplace.
The cabin was rustic but, it had all the modern comforts and was well furnished and would be very warm once they got a fire going. There was a long hallway and the boys were in one of the dormitory style rooms on the left and the girls were in another on the right. Mr. Christopherson had a small room to himself on the left at the head of the hallway. The bathrooms were at the far end.
After loud claims of “top bunk”, “bottom bunk” and “hey…I called it first”, Mr. Christopherson settled a couple of disputes, told them to put their stuff on their bunks and then announced that they all needed to grab their backpacks and get back on the bus. They still had a full day of learning and exploring ahead of them at the wildlife preserve. So, back on the bus they went now calling for seats instead of beds. Mr. Christopherson got on last and called out loudly, “Ok, everyone sit down and count off starting with you Johnny” Johnny called out loudly, “One!” and then Susie cheerfully called out “Two!” Andrea was three and so on down the line it went until they reached 27. “Ok, we’ve got everyone, let’s go Mr. Mackey.” The bus started up with a bit of a lurch and off they went to the Cascades Wild Life Animal Preserve and Park.
Once they arrived at the wildlife preserve the day was full of activities. They first went to see the wetland animals and got to see beavers, otters and raccoons. The boys like to watch the beavers cutting down trees with their teeth and building a dam, the girls like to watch the otters swim on their backs with their babies on their stomachs. Everyone was surprised to learn that Raccoons liked to get their food wet before they eat it so that they could feel it better with their fingers. Once Jimmy Barski was getting too close to a Raccoon while he was trying to take some video with a small hand held video camera (you see Jimmy’s father is TV a cameraman) and Jimmy didn’t realize that the raccoon was backing up into the opening of a hollow log and beginning to show it’s teeth. Mr. Christopherson yelled out, “Barski! Stop!” Jimmy didn’t stop immediately so Mr. Christopherson had to yell out a second time, “Barski! Freeze!” The second time, Jimmy stopped and turned to look at Mr. Christopherson with a confused look on his face. Then Mr. Christopherson said quietly and evenly, “now back up, slowly until I tell you to stop.” Jimmy did that and then when Mr. Christopherson told him to stop, he did. At that point Mr. Christopherson ran over to Jimmy and put his hand on Jimmy’s shoulder and guided him back to the group. He then squatted down in front of Jimmy so that he could look at him eye to eye. Then he said, “Jimmy, I know that you were just trying to take a good picture. There is nothing, in the world, wrong with that. What you didn’t realize was that you were backing that mother into the stump where she was hiding her babies. She was beginning to show some aggressive signs and in another moment or two, she might have bitten you very hard. If she went after your hands, you could lose a finger. Please do not, ever get that close to a wild animal again. You scared me halfway to next Tuesday.” And with that, Mr. Christopherson put his hands on Jimmy’s shoulders to steady him because, now Jimmy was beginning to feel a little wobbly and needed some help to stand up. He thanked Mr. Christopherson and, feeling stronger, he walked back over to where the rest of the boys were standing. They crowded around him and they all began talking excitedly.
Mr. Christopherson stood up and spoke loud enough for us all to hear. “Listen up everyone; I am responsible for each and every one of you. Just like that raccoon was protecting her young; I am trying to protect all of you. Let’s pretend that, for the rest of this trip, you are my sheep and I am your shepherd. It is my job to keep all of you safe and get you back home to your parents safe and a little more knowledgeable about the world around you. Ok?”