A sleepy camper wakes up to a frightening noise.

Source : http://www.highlightskids.com/Stories/Fiction/F0598_bearcountry.asp...

Growl! Groan!

The noises startled me from a sound sleep. In a single motion I sat straight up in my sleeping bag. “A bear,” I thought. “Outside the tent!”

The sign at the entrance to the campground had read:

The first thing was not to panic.CAUTION. YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY. Know the rules and follow them.

Just ahead we had seen the trash area with containers that looked like giant steel mailboxes. The ranger told us that bears used to rummage in the trash for food until the park installed these bear-proof containers. Since then, bears rarely came to this area.

But I heard one now. What should I do? The first thing was not to panic. I must stay calm.

OK, it was too late for that. What next?

My mind raced. I glanced around the tent, and in the dim light saw my mom, dad, and little sister still sleeping. Should I wake them and take a chance that the commotion would draw the bear’s attention? I decided to let them sleep. If I woke them and we ran, the bear would surely run after us. Bears can run thirty miles an hour for short distances. I didn’t think I could.

I sat in the dark, not moving a muscle. My ears listened so hard they ached.

It should have been safe here. We had followed all the rules. The pamphlet we got from the ranger had said: “In bear country, be careful of food and odors. They attract bears.” Campers aren’t supposed to leave any food out. We had wrapped our food boxes in plastic and locked them in our car.

After dinner we had gone for a walk and taken all our trash to the bear-proof containers so the smell wouldn’t draw bears to our campsite.

Growl! Snort!

A new wave of fear raced down my spine. What was the bear doing? I couldn’t hear it moving about, only grunting and growling. Maybe it had found something to eat.

We had been careful with cooking odors, too. Bears like fish, and for dinner we had cooked the rainbow trout that we had caught at the lake. But then we had put on clean clothes for bed, and Mom had put the fishy smelling clothes in a bag in the car, too, just the way the pamphlet told us to. That kept the food odors away from the tent and sleeping bags. There was no reason for a bear to be prowling around our campsite. But this one didn’t seem to know that.

Growl! Snort, moan!

The bear didn’t seem to be coming closer, but it was still out there. My mouth was so dry I felt as if I’d eaten my pillow. I was cold and shaking with fright. Why couldn’t someone else have been the one to wake up? The welfare of your entire family is an awesome responsibility. What if I had made the wrong choice and something terrible happened?

I couldn’t stand the strain any longer. I had to wake my parents. They would know what to do. I leaned close to Dad to wake him, but at that instant I heard a man’s voice. It seemed to be coming from the next tent.

“Joe. Hey, Joe,” it said in a loud whisper. “Wake up. You’re snoring.”

Gro—hum? Oh, sorry,” a sleepy voice answered. After that, the forest was filled with total silence.

I flopped back to my sleeping bag, as limp as a noodle.

One thing is for sure: When terrorized by a snoring camper, it is best to let your family sleep.