Camp Pocahontas, was a girl guides overnight camp located deep within the Mutton Mountain's. Here surrounded by snow capped peaks, lush alpine meadows and cold, fast running mountain streams. Girls from all across the island would come and grow. Like many camps, Pocahontas had its own set of traditions that had been handed down through the generations. One such tradition was the "Fishing Rodeo".
The "Fishing Rodeo" was a yearly completion open to all scouts fourteen years and older who had earned their "Angler Badge". In the completion was a simple one. The scouts would have one morning of solo fishing. The one who landed the biggest fish, as reward a cash bounty of twenty quid. The one who landed the second biggest fish was awarded a cash prize of fifteen quid and the one with the third biggest fish a prize of ten quid. And for the unlucky girl with the smallest fish, a trip to the camps gunge tank awaited them.
Sunflower took a deep breath as she made her way down the road that led to the center of camp. The road was not like the roads she knew, it was not cobblestone or brick. Gravel and sand paved it. Releasing her breath, she raised her eyes toward the rising crest moon that hung in the cloudless night sky.
A sudden mountain breeze, rising from the north blew around her as she peered toward the moon. The breeze carried the scent of roasted trout and the noise of laughter. The peppery smell of the rub used to season the fish, teased her noise and made her mouth water. Collecting her thoughts, she reached over and peered toward her line. Her fishing expedition had been a bust.
"Bloody 'ell." She said, shaking her head. "You think, with a name like 'Trout Brook' that trout would be thick as fleas on the back of a dogs back." She complained as she looked once more toward her empty line. Of course, that would be her luck, that she'll spend all day fishing in the one section of stream that would prove more barren than the Red Sea.
She rolled her shoulders again and kept on walking. Bright, yellow lights could not be seen glowing in the windows of the cabins that lined the trail. The Cabins, constructed of native pine and cedar were showing their age. There once bright and colorful coats of paint had faded till almost nothing remained.;Some of the windows, mostly those with screens over them where open in the open of letting in the cool evening air.
Sunflower took her time to pause and look at the door of each cabin as she passed by them. Upon each door there hung a carved bust of a character or animal. It was one of the many things that made Pocahontas a special place. The cabin she was peering out was called "Bambie" by all the scouts. It was also one of the oldest cabins, having been one of the first ones built. The bust of a young fawn carved into the door was the reason behind the name.
"They all have names." Sunflower mused as she peered toward the row of cabins. Each one proudly bearing the carved bust of some woodland creature. Oral tradition stated told that characters from Disney's early years where the namesakes of the cabin. All but one, "Crystal" whose namesake was the first and thankfully the last scout to die in the camp.
Finally, Sunflower shook herself from her musing. Collecting her thoughts she started to walk once more down the gravel trail. Soon, orange and red balls were appearing in the distance. The smoky smell of burning wood filled the airBefore long, she found herself standing in the main square of the camp. The whole camp was there. Some two hundred scouts, all gathered around long wooden tables. Sitting upon the tables, where tin plates, Each plate held a fillet fish, some seasoned black eye peas and a serving of thick, home cut chips. In the center of the crowd, there stood a raised wooden platform.
In the middle of the platform there was an old legged wooden stool. Four wooden posts surrounded the stool. The post formed something like a square. Three clear sheets of hard plastic enclosed three of the sides, the other side was open. Above the stood, there could be seen a clear plastic tank. Judging from her brief glance at the tank, she said it held something of around twenty five to eighty liters of thick looking slime. She shuttered a little as she pictured all that slime, rolling down upon her shoulder.
"OMG." She said wrapping her arms around her shoulder as she shuttered. Seeing the gunge booth standing there in the pale moonlight. Made her think of a guillotine awaiting its next victim. As she ran her finger nails over her skin, she could feel a crop of goose flesh pop up on her skin. She knew from her cooking badge classes that the mixture in that tank was nothing more than cornmeal, cornstarch, flour and water all mixed in and allowed to settle and thicken. But the colors, a dark green, mixed with some tint of blue with swirls of red throughout, caused her to shutter.
"Hey Sunny!" Cried a girl. "Been waiting on ya! How was Trout Brook! Catch a big one." The girl said as she skipped toward Sunflower. Smiling a little she wrapped her arm around her shoulder and guided her toward one of the wooden tables. "Catch myself a big one over at Willow Creek." She said proudly.
"Nah, caught nothing." Sunflower said as she leaned into the one arm hug. "Nothing beside wet feet." She felt herself being guided along the clearing. Soon she found her eyes traveling toward one of the wooden tables. The table was heavy laden with round, tin plates. Upon each plate, there could be seen a whole charbroiled fish, a good serving of seasoned black eyed peas with bits of salted meat stewed in with them. Brown, speckled butter beans and a huge slice of cornbread. The crust of the bread was a golden brown and small streams of melted, sweet cream butter ran down. It was hearty fare.
"Oh." The girl said picking up a nearby plate and sitting it down. Quickly she patted with the palm of her hand an empty space. "Tough luck girl. Guess your going to get the gunge this year." She said with a wry smile. "Some girl over at Bambie got the biggest fish. "
Sunflower blinked and blinked again as she eased down upon the wooden bench. The smell of the meal teased her nose and made her mouth water. She had not eaten lunch that day and had only an orange and a cup of tea for breakfast. Quickly she started to attack her meal, table manners be damned, the girl was hungry.
"Aye." The girl said as she pushed a tin mug in front of her. The mug held freshly brewed tea, sweetened to taste with cane sugar.
"Caught by Crystals pool she did." The girl paused. "Now, you and I know that Katie Jean is something of a space cadet." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "But, now hear me out." The girl reached over and took her own mug into her hand and took a shallow swallow of tea. Once she swallowed the tea she signed and fixed Sunflower with a look.
"Okay.." Sunflower said as she looked up from her fish. The fish was pretty tasty.
"She be going around the camp, telling her some girl with red hair and blue eyes told her where to stand to catch the biggest fish. Now, there plenty of blonde hair and blue eyes girls in this camp. But none where at that pool today. By chance she also mentioned the girl seemed to dripping wet. As her t shirt, shorts and sneakers were soaking wet and totally drenched. But no water was dripping off her. And the girl dam near vanished before her eyes, after pointing to the spot."
"Sounds like little Katie Jean saw the playful spirit of the late Crystal." Sunflower said as she paused. As she paused she made a mental note to and check the pool for herself.
"Maybe," The girl said, shrugging her shoulders. "Or maybe she just made the whole story up. You know, Katie Jean is pretty good at making stories up. And she does love telling tall tales."
"Pardon me." An older woman said leaning over Sunflowers shoulders. "But your needed on stage Sunflower." She said peering toward the blonde haired girl. "There about to hand out prizes and such." The women then reached up and placed a hand upon Sunflowers shoulders. Taking a deep breath she squeezed her shoulder tight. Then, smirking a little she leaned in and whispered. "The Gunge is extra cold, it's been in cold storage since camp started." And with little bit done, she eased her hand off the girls shoulder and stepped back.
A deep blush colored Sunflowers face as she pushed her plate back and signed. Turning to her friend she offered a little grin.
"We'll Rachel, it's been nice knowing ya." She said as she stood up from the wooden bench. Once she was standing, she started toward the stage. She could already see three other girls standing upon the raised wooden platform. In the center, stood fiery red haired Katie Jean. A laurel wreath rested lightly upon the brow of her hair.
Rachel blinked and blinked again as she watched her friend push through the crowd and toward the stage. Letting out a low whistle, she rolled her shoulders again. She'll never understand that girl.
Sunflower could feel her heart pounding like a steam powered locomotive as she stepped toward the wooden stage. Her breathing increased as she started up the wooden steps and moved onto the stage. Grinning a little she peered out at the gathered crowds. Some two hundred round faces and four hundred eyes peered back at her.
"So." An older teenager said strolling onto the stage. "With only two more days remaining in this session, I would like to take this time to thank you all for coming out. We hope you enjoyed your time camp. If this is your first time, we hope to enjoy it even more." She paused.
"For those coming back, where glad to see you. We hope you'll join us again for the next session. For the adult leaders and junior leaders, we'll be holding some workshops for our next session. See Mrs. Brigs about that, and get all the proper work filled out." She said winking, she then turned toward the four girls lined up behind her.
"Now, as you can clearly see. Katie Jean caught the biggest fish this time, She caught a whopping ten pound trout. She gets the grand prize of twenty pounds. Behind her is Ashley Smith with an eight pound fish, she gets the second prize of fifteen pound and finally Linda Cartwright gets the third place prize of ten pounds. All you girls can pick up the money at the trading post before you come. There is a little bit of paperwork that you need to feel out before we can give you your coins." She shrugged her shoulder and then turned toward Sunflower.
"And now in last place was Sunflower." The girl wrapped her arms around Sunflower and guided her toward the phone booth looking prop set up on stage. "Sunflower I think you know what happens to those who come in last place, don't you?" She said opening the door and nodding for Sunflower to step on in.
Blushing like a bride. Sunflower stepped into the confines of the small little booth. Quickly she looked up, and then she looked down. Taking a small breath, she folded her hands in her lap and gently closed her eyes. A few seconds later, she heard the door closing and the girl locking her in.
"Now, on the count of three." The women cried, And soon the chanting started, starting and three and working their way backwards the chanting and shouting grew louder and louder till at last that magical number of zero was reached. The minute they reached Zero, was the minute Sunflower felt the full force of the slop above her come splattering down upon her head.
A loud string of giggles escaped Sunflowers lips as she felt the cold gunge falling down upon her shoulders. The gunge, cold and sticky, rain through her locks of golden hair, causing them to stick together, the waterfall coated her pink t-shirt and ran down the rounded neck and covered her bra, causing her to giggle even harder. Finally, as the gunge kept rolling down her back and over her front, it came into contact with her light cotton skirt. The mixture pooled in her lap and started to soak through the thin fabric of her skirt.
Finally after several seconds the downpour turned into nothing but a slightly drizzle before stopping all together. Leaving one very messy and sulking Sunflower. The plastic door was soon open, sending a cool breeze blowing into the confines of the box. The cool mountain breeze felt even cooler upon her gunge coated skin.
"We'll." The woman said, taking a deep breath. "That was quite the show!" She said gently picking her way toward Sunflower. Smiling a little she placed her mink before her and said. "So Sunny, how do you feel?"
Giving the women a pout that would end all pouts she looked up and said.
"Cold, very cold.." She then stood up and gently made her way out of the booth. The women being a good sport took her by the hand and guided her onto dryer ground. Once on dryer ground the pair stopped.
"Let's give Sunny a big round of applause for being a good sport! Sunny, a change of clothing has already been set out on your bunk along with something from the staff for being such a good sport!"