Animals abound here at camp, but there are times that you get a chance to have a little more intimate look than just passing them on the highway or hearing them far off in the distance. Allyson and I have had lots of interesting animal experiences over the years. I have helped rear possums, a rabbit and a snake. I’ve rescued birds and rats and frogs and grasshoppers and even spiders, and now, I can add turtle incubator to my list of zoological accomplishments here at camp.
During the summer, some of our staffers witnessed a mother turtle laying her eggs in a part of camp that would’ve been pretty dangerous, so they took the eggs and placed them in a plastic container with some dirt. The summer went on, and the eggs just sat. Summer ended, and our staff left, so Allyson and I were entrusted with finishing the job that had been passed from momma turtle to summer staff onto us. Our Nature Director, James, told us that if the eggs hadn’t hatched by September, they probably wouldn’t hatch at all. And with this past weekend being the last one in September, we had both lost hope of one day passing the plastic container and seeing a turtle starring back at us.
But, sure enough, Allyson was doing a little cleaning around the house and noticed a turtle trying to climb its way out of its little plastic maternity ward. Allyson called me, excited that she had some new playmates (nothing brings out such adorable excitement in my wife quite like baby animals). She brought them down to camp, and, as instructed, we set them down next to the river to begin their turtle lives independently in earnest. Later that day, a third turtle hatched, and, after keeping me company while typing a devotion, I set him down in the river.
I’m not sure what will happen to our three young turtles down by the river. Maybe I’ll pass them on the highway in the years to come or maybe they’ll make their way to the buffalo river to establish themselves among the hundreds of others we count on logs as we canoe. Who really knows–It’s not like I’ll be able to recognize them anyway. I do know that experiences like this really make me appreciate my time here. I feel more a part of all the things around me. Getting to see these turtles first experience with water. Being one of the ones to set them down in their natural habitat and watch them burrow into the mud. I don’t know what they’ll do next. But I do know they’ve got a chance to do it, and to be part of that is both exciting and humbling.