From the summer of 1999 to the summer of 2006, I worked at a church camp for children and youth. During the other three seasons, the camp is open for groups to come and do retreats. I will occassionally go up on those weekends to work cooking the meals. Two of my friends, Mary and Caleb, whom I worked on staff with now work and live there with their two girls, Rachel and Lydia. On Saturday, Mary and I went for a walk around camp with her girls and one conversation during our walk went something like this….
Me: Oh, there goes a lizard!
Mary: We saw a snake the other day. Rachel held it.
Rachel: Yeah, I held it.
Mary: We found it when we were clearing for our garden.
Rachel: We found a copperhead.
Mary: No, that one wasn’t a copperhead. Did you and daddy find a copperhead?
Rachel: No, just daddy. Do copperhead’s bite?
Mary: Well, all snakes bite.
Me: It’s just that some snakebites are worse than others.
Rachel: A water snake doesn’t bite.
Mary: Yeah, a water snake will bite too. You just make sure that you always ask mommy or daddy before you pick up a snake, okay?
Me: This may be one of the best conversations I’ve ever been a part of.
Throughout this short conversation, I was amazed. I kept thinking, ‘this conversation would never take place most anywhere else.’ You see, camp is located in the area where the foothills of NC start to turn into the mountains. Snakes are pretty common there – copperheads in particular. So I can see where kids in this area would need to know about snakes. But the fact that Rachel talked about snakes so matter of factly also had me a little in awe. She’s 3 and 1/2 and talking about copperheads! It was one of those moments where I smiled, shook my head a little, and thought “only in the country.”