Nora in particular was delighted to sleep in a tent, not take baths and play with leeches. There were also a number of other kids, far more seasoned in camping and fishing to teach her the ways of the woods.
Each girl had a whistle to blow in case they got lost in the woods around camp, saw something dangerous or fell in the lake. The adults tried valiantly to explain this concept to Nora.
Adult: Would you blow your whistle if you are hungry?
Adult: Would you blow your whistle if you get bitten by a bug?
Adult: When would you blow your whistle?
Nora: If I see a panda bear!
Adult: Ummm, no.
We tried to educate Nora on the natural history of the panda. No luck.
We tried to tell her about the lack of large bamboo forests in Northern Minnesota. She was skeptical.
We tried to compromise and teach her about black bears, a reasonable alternative that does actually live near there. Nope.
We finally gave up and told her that if she sees any big, scary animal, she should blow her whistle.
The one time that she probably thought she should be blowing the darn thing was right before we left and it was nowhere to be found. This event was captured in the following picture, involved a large amount of shrieking and will henceforth only be referred to as The Great Poop Incident of 2010. (There was another picture of this, but it would get me kicked off of Blogspot.)
They did make up once Nora was in warm, dry, clean clothes and in her car seat. She got nice and sleepy on the way home and right before she dropped off to sleep, I looked back and she was contentedly looking out at the forest and lakes going by outside. It was a gorgeously clear day, I was with my family and we were headed back to a home we love. Suddenly, Nora sat straight up and said...
"I see a panda! Where's my whistle?!?"