"Troop 13 to the Rescue"
by Penny Warner

From Troop 13 Mysteries:
The Mystery of the Haunted Caves

Competing at the Gold Rush Jamboree, the scouts of Troop 13 vow to win the rappelling event. But when another scout hangs perilously from a fraying rope in a 100-foot cavern, the scouts learn that some things are more important than winning.


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Characters in Order of Appearance
Becca Matthews
CJ Tran
Jonnie Jackson
Sierra Garcia
Susan Sanford
Mrs. Stumplemeyer
Troop 10 Scouts
Tiffany Hewitt
Mrs. Parker

*You may want to divide the narrator's longer passages among several readers.

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 Miwok.

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 again.

Susan: Scouts!

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 hushed.

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, she continued,

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 thought.

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. She paused.

Becca: But that new girl--Amber--she's picking up speed.

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 studied Amber.

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…

CJ: What?!

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 slowing down.

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 her mother.

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 of them.

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 event.

Tiffany: Losers!

Narrator: Tiffany sneered at Troop 13.

Tiffany: I told you we were going to beat you this year!

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 Jonnie's ropes.

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 flashlight.

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 rappelling event.

Mrs. Parker: Yes, Mrs. Stumplemeyer.

Narrator: said Mrs. Parker, the leader of Troop 10--Amber's troop. She stepped forward, followed by several other troop leaders.

Mrs. Parker: Troop 7 won the event. But we have another award to present.

Mrs. Stumplemeyer: What do you mean, another award?

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.


© 2001 by Penny Warner. Excerpted and adapted from Troop 13 Mysteries: The Mystery of the Haunted Caves, published by Meadowbrook Press. This Classroom Theater version of "Troop 13 to the Rescue" is © 2002 by Meadowbrook Press.

Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students' use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law.