We still didn’t have an official Pathfinder leader, just a group of parents, older siblings, and the church pastor who took turns supervising our meetings. One day someone handed us the manual that listed and described all the possible honors we could earn. We had never seen this book before, and we eagerly pored over the pages.
“I can’t believe there’s a Pathfinder honor for worms!” Andy said.
“There are two, actually,” Rachel pointed out. “Worms and Advanced Worms.”
“Advanced Worms!” Andy exclaimed. “What, like worms with high IQs?”
“Really.” I laughed. “What could the second worm honor cover that the first one doesn’t?”
“Oooh, they have a house painting honor!” Jaimi exclaimed. “I’m going to go home and slap a new coat of paint on the house and tell my mom it’s for a Pathfinder badge!”
“You have to read the requirements for each honor,” my brother Tony pointed out. “Some of them aren’t as easy as they sound.”
“Wait a second, wait a second!” Andy exclaimed, stopping on a different page. “Did you guys know they have a winter camping honor?”
“We go winter camping all the time!” I said. “It’s, like, the one thing we actually do! How come none of us have the winter camping honor?”
“Maybe because you can’t do any of these things,” Tony said, scanning down the list of requirements. Can you pitch a tent on level ground?”
“I can pitch a tent into the river—ha, ha!” Andy joked.
“The cabin we sleep in isn’t even on level ground,” said Rachel.
“Can you prepare a three-day menu of balanced camping meals?”
“Sure,” I piped up. “Trail mix, instant oatmeal, and brownies squished beyond recognition at the bottom of your backpack. Oh, yeah, and the apple your mom
makes you take that you end up chucking at a tree. How’s that?”
“You have to incorporate all the major food groups,” Tony said.
“Oh, I know those!” Andy exclaimed. “Let’s see . . . the four major camping food groups are . . . granola bars, candy bars, fruit bars, and Pop-Tarts!”
Tony continued reading. “Do any of you know what to do if you get lost or stranded out in the freezing wilderness?”
“Yeah. Follow the sound of traffic on the highway,” said Andy.
“Wait. . .” Jaimi said hesitantly. “Aren’t we going camping next week? You guys didn’t say anything about getting lost.”
“We won’t get lost,” Rachel assured her.
“What about frostbite?” Tony went on. “Do you guys know the warning signs and treatment of frostbite? Or hypothermia? Or snow blindness?”
“Snow blindness!” Jaimi yelped. “Hypothermia!”
“Ignore him,” I insisted. “That stuff doesn’t happen.”
“If it doesn’t happen, then why do you need to know it to earn the winter camping honor?” Tony asked.
I glared at my brother. “It . . . doesn’t . . . happen,” I repeated through clenched teeth, “at least not to us. We don’t go camping in the Swiss Alps. And anyway, we have a cabin with a wood burning stove.”
Tony reached the end of the list of requirement and looked up from the page. “I hate to break it to you,” he said, “but cabin camping doesn’t count. You have to sleep in a tent or out in the open in order to earn your winter camping honor.”
“You know what?” said Jaimi. “I think I’m OK without it.”
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 11! Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!