Becca: If we don't beat Troop 7 this year, I'm
going to . . . to eat a bat sandwich!
Narrator: thirteen-year-old Becca Matthews announced
to her three best friends as she stepped from the bus at Camp
CJ: How about a bat s'more?
Narrator: CJ Tran planted her small feet in
the red dirt of the California Gold Country.
CJ: Bats taste better with chocolate.
Narrator: Becca laughed. It'd been a long, winding,
three-hour drive from San Francisco to Camp Miwok for the scouts'
Gold Rush Jamboree.
Jonnie: We came so close to winning the gold
medal last year.
Narrator: Jonnie Jackson said, twisting one
of her tight black braids.
Jonnie: We've GOT to win this time. We've been
preparing all year.
Sierra: Don't worry. We'll beat Troop 7.
Narrator: replied Sierra Garcia optimistically.
Jonnie: I hope you're right, Sierra.
Narrator: answered Jonnie.
Jonnie: I couldn't stand to see Troop 7 win
Narrator: It was Susan Sanford calling from
their campsite. She'd been Troop 13's leader for two years. The
girls admired her leadership skills, sense of humor, and warm
smile, not to mention her tall, athletic build and gorgeous brown
hair. Susan held up two fingers, the sign for quiet. Troop 13
Susan: It's time to get to work!
Narrator: Susan's words set the girls in motion.
Camp Miwok bustled with activity as the scouts pitched their tents,
stored their gear, and lit their campfires. The troops first enjoyed
a dinner of pigs in a blanket and s'mores (batless), then sang
campfire songs and told ghost stories around the burning logs.
When the sun set and the stars came out, it was time to hit the
sleeping bags. As the girls from Troop 13 wolfed down their breakfast
the next morning, they discussed the first event of the day: rappelling,
which was climbing down a steep hundred-foot cliff using a rope.
Sierra: 'Onnie's gah dish dow'.
Narrator: Sierra said, her mouth full of biscuit.
She watched Jonnie check her rappelling equipment. Swallowing,
Sierra: It'll be easy for her.
Narrator: Becca agreed. Jonnie was strong and
fast, and she'd done lots of mountain climbing. She'd have no
trouble rappelling into the hundred-foot cavern. But would she
beat Tiffany, Troop 7's rappeller?
CJ: Remember, she's got to get down there fast,
Narrator: CJ said,
CJ: but not so fast she loses control of her
ropes and harness.
Narrator: The three girls shuddered at the horrific
Sierra: Did you hear about that new scout?
Narrator: Sierra asked, changing the subject.
Sierra: Amber something. She's supposed to be
some kind of super-athlete. She's been bragging about being a
real rock climber, not just a gym rat.
Narrator: Becca glanced over at the new girl
at Troop 10's campsite and sized her up. It looked as if Tiffany
wasn't the only one Jonnie would have to beat.
Susan: Time to go!
Narrator: Susan announced. The troops hiked
up the dirt road to the Haunted Caves in less than a half-hour.
Inside the caves, the park rangers and troop leaders checked the
harnesses, ropes, buckles, and helmets, making sure every piece
of equipment was safe. Finally, Jonnie buckled her fanny pack
over her sweatshirt. Becca glanced over the cavern's edge. The
steep cliff dropped away into a seemingly bottomless pit. She
saw nothing but blackness below and shivered, thankful that this
was Jonnie's event
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: Girls, you know the rules,
but I'm going to review them.
Narrator: boomed Mrs. Stumplemeyer, Troop 7's
leader. The girls groaned. Mrs. Stumplemeyer held up two fingers,
but it was her stern look that silenced them.
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: When I give the command,
Narrator: Mrs. Stumplemeyer explained,
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: use your ropes to lower yourselves
to the bottom of the cavern within the allotted time. If you're
too slow or too fast, you'll be disqualified. We want you to rappel
responsibly, not barrel down out of control. The first scout to
make it to the bottom within the time window wins this event.
We'll be down there waiting for you.
Narrator: Jonnie nervously checked her watch,
then stretched her muscles for the zillionth time.
CJ: Hang in there.
Narrator: CJ said, laughing at her pun.
CJ: Get it? See you at the bottom.
Jonnie: One way or the other.
Narrator: Jonnie replied with a tight smile.
The girls gave Jonnie a few more encouraging words before descending
a spiral staircase to the cavern floor, where they'd greet the
rappellers with cheers and hugs as they landed. Becca lifted her
binoculars and spotted Jonnie between Tiffany and Amber. A hush
fell over the crowd as the tiny figures above switched on their
helmet lights. Tweeeet! Mrs. Stumplemeyer's whistle echoed
in the cavern. The ten rappellers began their descent, guided
only by the their troopmates' dim flashlights.
Becca: Jonnie's way ahead of everyone.
Narrator: Becca said, peering through the binoculars.
Becca: But that new girl--Amber--she's picking
Narrator: Becca shared her binoculars with Sierra
and CJ as the rappellers completed the first fifty feet of the
descent, creeping down the cliff on their ropes like spiders trailing
silk. Becca took the binoculars from Sierra and focused them on
Jonnie. Suddenly she gasped.
Becca: Oh no! Amber just passed Jonnie!
Narrator: The girls from Troop 10 began to chant,
Troop 10 Scouts: Am-ber! Am-ber! Am--
Narrator: Suddenly the chanting stopped. The
other spectators murmured as they realized something was wrong.
Amber had stopped her descent. Through her binoculars, Becca saw
it all up close.
Becca: Oh my gosh! Amber's stuck! She seems
to be floating in midair.
Narrator: Sierra snatched the binoculars and
Sierra: She's wiggling around . . . her rope
must be caught on something.
Narrator: Becca took back the binoculars and
zeroed in on Jonnie, who had almost caught up with Amber. Tiffany
was right behind Jonnie.
Becca: Amber's definitely caught on something;
it looks like a rough ledge sticking out of the cliff. Her rope
. . .
Narrator: Becca paused, straining to make out
what Amber was doing
Becca: She's trying to get free . . . but every
time she wiggles around, the rope rubs against that ledge and
. . . oh no
Narrator: CJ shouted.
Becca: The rope
it's . . . fraying!
Narrator: A hush fell over the crowd as everyone
realized the danger Amber was in. The sharp edge of the jutting
ledge was sawing away at her lifeline.
Becca: Something's wrong with Jonnie now. She's
Narrator: Becca gasped.
Becca: She's . . . trying to reach Amber!
CJ: But what about the contest?
Narrator: CJ said.
CJ: Tiffany's almost caught up with her!
Narrator: If Jonnie continued her descent now,
she would win the rappelling event. But instead she began swinging
her legs back and forth. Becca saw Tiffany pause for a moment
as she reached Jonnie and Amber. Jonnie, still swinging her legs,
yelled to Tiffany. But Tiffany didn't seem to hear Jonnie. Or
she'd chosen to ignore her. She slid past Jonnie and Amber, continuing
her descent. Tiffany had taken the lead. She rappelled toward
the bottom of the cavern and victory. Becca kept her eyes on Jonnie,
who continued swinging her legs, trying to reach Amber. Amber
looked terrified as she squirmed around, trying to free herself.
Becca: Oh no! The rope . . . another strand is about to--
Narrator: The strand broke before Becca could
finish her sentence. Amber jerked downward a foot. She screamed,
and so did the girls at the bottom of the cavern. Jonnie swung
her legs for several more seconds, trying to gain momentum. She
was only two feet from reaching Amber. Becca could see the girl
crying as she reached out for Jonnie. With one more vigorous kick,
Jonnie finally was able to grab Amber's outstretched arm. Amber
threw her arms around Jonnie like a lost toddler who'd just found
Gripping Amber with one hand, Jonnie found a foothold on the
cliff and struggled out of her sweatshirt. She wrapped it around
Amber's waist and her own, tying the sleeves tightly with a knot
she'd learned for her camping badge. Then Jonnie opened her fanny
pack and pulled out her metal flashlight. She lifted it high and
slammed it against the sharp, thin edge of the ledge. Becca watched
the rocky tip break off and fall to the ground.
Amber jerked as her rope was freed, but she clung to Jonnie,
and the sweatshirt held them tightly together. Together, with
one strong rope and one frayed nearly in half, the two girls slowly
started to descend.
Becca: She's free!
Narrator: A cheer went up from the cavern floor.
The girls hugged each other, and the leaders wiped sweat from
their foreheads. Soon the girls were only five or six feet from
landing. And then Amber's rope snapped completely. Jonnie's rope
couldn't handle the jolt of extra weight, and the girls plummeted
the last few feet. They landed hard enough to knock the wind out
As they gasped and coughed, their troopmates gathered around
and helped them to their feet. It was clear from the cheers that
both Amber and Jonnie were going to be all right. But the members
of Troop 7 were cheering for a different reason. Tiffany had landed
several minutes before Amber and Jonnie. Troop 7 had won the rappelling
Narrator: Tiffany sneered at Troop 13.
Tiffany: I told you we were going to beat you
Narrator: Becca shook her head, then turned
to help Jonnie remove her gear. Jonnie didn't look so good.
Becca: Are you all right?
Narrator: Becca asked as she unhooked one of
Becca: You were amazing!
Jonnie: But we lost the event,
Narrator: Jonnie protested,
Jonnie: thanks to me.
CJ: You did the right thing.
Narrator: CJ said.
Jonnie: You saved Amber's life. And you risked
your life to do it!
Narrator: Sierra chimed in,
Sierra: I thought what you did was great. So
what if we didn't win? That's not the point.
Susan: The girls are right, Jonnie.
Narrator: Susan stepped forward, holding her
Susan: You're a scout, and that means you help
others when they're in trouble. I'm very proud of you.
Narrator: She put her arm around Jonnie and
gave her a squeeze. Jonnie's look of disappointment faded a little.
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: Scouts! Sco-o-u-uts!
Narrator: Mrs. Stumplemeyer's voice echoed like
a siren in the cavern.
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: We have our winner! I'm pleased
to announce that thanks to Tiffany Hewitt, Troop 7 has won the
Mrs. Parker: Yes, Mrs. Stumplemeyer.
Narrator: said Mrs. Parker, the leader of Troop
10--Amber's troop. She stepped forward, followed by several other
Mrs. Parker: Troop 7 won the event. But we have
another award to present.
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: What do you mean, another
Narrator: snapped Mrs. Stumplemeyer.
Mrs. Parker: Mrs. Stumplemeyer, Amber was in
serious danger up there, and a scout from another troop forfeited
the race to rescue her. This is a stellar demonstration of the
Scout Oath, "To help others at all times." The other
troop leaders and I believe that Jonnie Jackson from Troop 13
deserves an even higher honor--one of the highest honors a scout
can receive: the Leadership Pin. She clearly gave up her winning
edge to help Amber, and she has set a fine example for everyone.
Mrs. Stumplemeyer: Yes, but--
Mrs. Parker: This type of behavior should be
rewarded, not punished. Don't you agree, Mrs. Stumplemeyer?
Narrator: Troop 7's leader glanced at her scouts,
then nodded weakly. Tiffany looked around with disgust.
Tiffany: It's not fair!
Narrator: she whined.
Tiffany: You're just trying to downplay my award
by giving her a better one!
Narrator: Tiffany muttered and stomped off.
As a crowd gathered around Jonnie and congratulated her, Becca
stood back and smiled at Susan. Susan winked and smiled back.
It looked as if one good deed led to another. Troop 7 may have
won the first event, but Troop 13 had won an even higher honor
by doing the right thing.