Mom Stories — Attack of the Bees

Everyone has amazing stories that make them unique and interesting.  I’ve had the itch for a long time to write down some of my stories for the kids.  I had this “I can do it” moment on Sunday morning when I realized I could write up a few stories on the blog, collect them in a folder and sometime compile them for the kids.  Why the blog?  Well, this is my hobby and my journal (I kept a written journal since 5th grade, though now it’s in this electronic format.) I can copy, paste and edit later… and with the blog, I’m more likely to “just do it” than on a hidden folder on my computer.  So without further ado here’s the first (and hopefully not last) of my Mom stories, dedicated to LD, DD and ED.

[In my story use the terms bees/yellow jackets interchangeably, though obviously yellow jackets are not the same as honey bees.]

When I was in college, I took a job as a camp counselor at a girl scout camp.  I almost always worked in the horse units.  Towards the end of the summer, I was the head counselor for the oldest group of girls.  At the end of their session, we took the girls on a long trail ride along a lake. It was an out and back trail.

The head horse instructor was at the front of the line.  I was at the end (on one of the less reliable horses).  As we approached a rocky area of the trail, the horses slowed as they picked their way across an area that had a whole bunch of  8-15 inch rocks. There seemed to be a bit of a commotion and I realized we had stirred up a yellow jacket’s nest.  A yellow jacket got caught in one girl’s hair and stung her on the neck, and another stung one of the horses, but otherwise we got through unscathed.

Not too long after that we took a break for lunch.  I talked to the other counselor and tried to persuade her not to go back down that same trail, to go around the area where the yellow jacket’s nest was. I could see that the bees had been quite stirred up.  She wasn’t to be convinced, though.

Let me interject this before I go on with my story. When I was seventeen just a few years before, a friend of mine went canoeing with her brother.  He got bit by a spider and died of anaphylactic shock. So, I knew allergies could be deadly. I asked the girls if anyone was allergic to bees and one girl raised her hand.  I took mental note and then off we went.

I was still at the end of the line of horses.  The ride went fine until we came to that same rocky area.  I looked up to see a horse rear into the air and a girl come flying off her horse. I quickly got off my horse and handed the reins to one of the girls in front of me.  I went up to see the girl who had said she was allergic to bees COVERED in bees. Her helmet was just one solid mass of yellow jackets.  I told her to fling her helmet off and I started grabbing bees off her shirt with my hands.  I was just brushing them off her as fast as I could.  Bees were flying into my face as I leaned over her.  After some minutes (1? 3? 5?) I hollered “run” as the bees were still swarming up.  I kept sweeping the bees off her as best I could. I was utterly panicked as this, I felt, could be life threatening to this girl.  All I wanted was to save this girl and get the bees off of her.

Eventually we got all the bees off of her.  She had only been stung once.  We managed to get the rest of the girls and my horse (who had broken his reins in his panic) around that spot and headed back to the pick-up site.  I immediately started swelling — everywhere.  I had 50? 75? 100? stings on my face, hands, arms, down my shirt, on my back.  I had to take my watch off as my wrist started swelling up enormously.  At one point I remember we stopped alongside the lake and I dunked my hands, arms and face into the cool waters.  My skin felt very hot.

Finally, we made it back to the pick up point.  We had radioed the camp ahead of time and told the camp director of our troubles.  They met us there, but I still directed girls telling them where to put their horses, how to take off their tack and so forth.  I remember being miffed (internally).  Why didn’t they take over for me?  But I think I had that huge calm that comes with a big shock and scare. The camp director said I was handling it all so well she didn’t want to step in.

I assume I was taken to the hospital (though I don’t remember if that’s true). I’ll have to ask my family!  The girl who said she was allergic — in the end wasn’t. (She had been stung once and swelled slightly.  And of course the camp director pointed out they would have sent an epi-pen with us if she had been allergic. Of course, I didn’t know or think about that at the time.) So, thankfully she was alright!   And I was just fine too (just a bit swollen and grotesque looking — perhaps still am, right guys?!).

So, that’s my bee story. Hope to share another story with you soon.

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