Her pace quickened with each step. Her throat unquenched from the arid day, she needed water, she needed it now. In fact, she dreamt about it. Up from her sleeping bag she arose. The other Campers, unaware of her stupor. Around 4am, in the pitch of the night, the Young Girl began to follow her Camp Counselor to the source. Walking with haste to keep up with the human mirage, the Young Girl suddenly stepped on something sharp along the path. It was the sharp pain that awakened her from the suspended dream…half in her mind, half in the physical realm. Upon awakening from her sleepwalk, she paused to take in her surroundings.
The rustling of leaves.
Now fully awake, the Young Girl’s mind scrambled to make sense of it all, she came to the disheartened realization that she had sleepwalked away from camp. She had walked so far that she couldn’t even see the faint light from the fire they kept throughout the night. Providentially, she remembered her camp training. “If, at any moment, you get separated from the group, just stay where you are and yell for help. If you keep moving around, you’ll only become more lost.”
“Help” her faint quivering voice pierced the darkness. Her breath deepening…fear overtaking…panic crouching at the door of her heart.
There…behind her…a shuffling. Not knowing if she had awakened her fellow Campers…or something else. Distant, yet within ear shot. “Hello!” yelled one of the Camp Counselors.
By now, her desire to be found conquered her fear of the dark.
“Hello! I see you! We’re coming!”
Flashlights pierced the darkness as 3 Counselors in the search party approached. The Lead Counselor ran at full speed upon seeing her. She wrapped her arms around the Young Girl and comforted her through tears of joy and relief.
The Young Girl had sleepwalked about a quarter mile from her group. Following, at least in her mind, her Camp Counselor to go get some water. It had all been a dream though. A dream that, ultimately, ended well.
While I readily admit I’ve taken a couple creative liberties, this was based on a true story of what happened to my daughter, Kya, during summer camp last year. Upon returning from her sleepwalking departure, the group welcomed her back with open arms, each exclaiming that they were glad she was okay. Being a 4am occurrence, adrenaline shot through the camp, and very few went back to sleep that night. Most stayed awake and recounted the story, wondering how she left the camp without being heard. They post the Camp Counselors around the perimeter of the camp to prevent any of the youth from leaving. But in their weariness, all slept through Kya slipping out of her sleeping bag, and walking away from the camp.
As daybreak approached, the story had fully circulated through the 40+ Kids and Counselors. And by then, knowing that Kya was safe, the event had become a bit of a funny story. The kids giggled in laughter at the thought of Kya sleepwalking out of the camp.
I heard the story upon her arrival back home. Kya told it in her humorous way and even I laughed quite a bit upon hearing it. Later though, the reality of what might have happened began to sink in. I was quick to remember that we often suffer more from imagination than reality. I took a deep breath. I blamed no one. These things happen. And yes, Kya is prone to sleepwalking even here at home. I simply hugged her a bit tighter…
Grateful she was safe…
Grateful she remembered her training…
Grateful for her cry for help.