My family was going camping that weekend, and I had a problem. My big brother, Neil, told me that toy rabbits are not allowed to go on camping trips, and I always sleep with Mr. Long Ears.
Neil said that stuffed bunnies are for babies. He said to take a flashlight instead. But a flashlight isn’t cuddly like Mr. Long Ears.
My little brother, Benjy, is almost two years old. Neil said Benjy could take his blanket because he’s a baby. Sometimes Benjy borrows my rabbit. But he always puts him back in my room at bedtime.
At breakfast Neil told me all about camping. He’s been camping with his friend Jeff.
“Is it dark in the tent at night?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Neil, “like the inside of the darkest cave.”
“That sounds very dark,” I replied. I decided to hide Mr. Long Ears in my backpack. His body fit OK, but when I closed the pack, his ears stuck out. I thought Neil would be suspicious.
“What else do you like about camping?” I asked Neil after school.
“The wild animals come out at night,” answered Neil. “You can hear them chomping all around the tent.” Neil bit into his apple and made loud chomping sounds.
I imagined wild animals eating a hole in the tent, and then I went to my room and took Mr. Long Ears from my backpack and rolled him up in my sleeping bag. There was a funny lump on one side. I thought Neil would be suspicious.
At dinner I asked Neil, “What happens if you want a drink of water in the middle of the night?”
“You crawl out of the tent and walk down the long, dark path to the water pump,” Neil explained. “You have to shine your flashlight all around first so you don’t step on a moose’s foot.”
I tried to think of a better place to hide Mr. Long Ears.
On Friday morning the backyard was covered with boxes and bags full of camping gear.
“Put your parka in the duffel bag, Josh,” said Mom, “just in case it gets cold tonight.”
I found my parka, and when I opened the duffel bag, Dad’s huge orange parka was right on top. A rabbit, even one with long ears, could fit inside that orange parka nicely. I ran and got Mr. Long Ears and zipped him inside Dad’s parka. I thought, When Dad gets his parka out, I’ll say, “What a surprise! How did Mr. Long Ears get in there?”
We drove for a long time, and Dad kept saying, “We’re almost there.” I was squashed in the backseat between Benjy’s car seat and Neil. Benjy had his blanket, and I had a flashlight. Neil had his popgun, his canteen, two flashlights, his toy camper truck, his baseball and bat, his cowboy hat, and his Frisbee.
Finally we arrived at Avalanche Creek. We started to help Dad put up the tent, but Benjy kept tripping over the ropes.
“Will you boys take him away?” Dad asked.
First we played sheriff and outlaws. We arrested Benjy and put him in the Avalanche Creek Jail (the tent). Then we played prospectors looking for gold, and the tent became the Avalanche Creek Mine. Next we played Indians, and the tent was a wigwam. We had a wonderful time all day.
After dinner we roasted marshmallows over the campfire coals. I roasted two at once—one for Benjy and one for me. It started getting very dark. Neil wanted to tell stories about the ghosts of old prospectors and outlaws still wandering around Avalanche Creek. I wanted Dad to get his parka.
“Aren’t you cold, Dad?” I asked.
“No,” Dad replied.
It looks like Mr. Long Ears will have to sleep in the car, I thought.
Mom took Benjy into the tent to put him to bed. Suddenly Benjy started to bawl.
“Maybe there’s a snake in Benjy’s sleeping bag!” Neil shouted. We rushed over to the tent to see what was wrong.
“Benjy lost his blanket,” said Mom.
“Don’t worry,” Neil told her, “we’ll find it with our trusty flashlights.” We started into the dark woods. I could hear Avalanche Creek gurgling. It sounded like a giant drinking from a huge water bottle. I kept shining my light all around to make sure no wild animals were lurking anywhere. We looked everywhere but couldn’t find Benjy’s blanket. Benjy was still crying when we got back to the tent.
“Maybe we’ll have to go home now,” said Mom, “instead of in the morning.”
“No, we can’t go home!” cried Neil. He was really disappointed.
Suddenly I had an idea. “Will you unlock the trunk of the car?” I asked Dad. Standing on the bumper, I shined my flashlight inside the trunk, opened the duffel bag, unzipped Dad’s parka, and pulled out Mr. Long Ears. I ran over to Benjy and put Mr. Long Ears in his arms. Benjy hugged Mr. Long Ears and stopped crying.
“You saved the day,” said Dad, giving me a hug.
“You mean, ‘the night,’” said Neil with a happy grin.
When we crawled into our sleeping bags, Neil didn’t say anything about Mr. Long Ears being in Dad’s parka. Instead, he showed me how to use my flashlight and my hand to make fun shadows on the tent walls.