The college student had taken a job as a counselor at a sleepaway camp over summer break. He wasn’t quite sure why he had taken the job, other than the fact that it was the first job to come along when he decided he absolutely hated the job flipping burgers which he had begun two days earlier.
He was several weeks into the summer, and he now had his second group of campers. The first group had only been at the camp for a two week session, and this group was here for a six week session. It was a group of six seven-year-olds, and they were mostly city kids, while he was a native of the suburbs.
It was the time of day when there was no activity formally scheduled, and the counselors were expected to come up with something themselves to entertain the campers, from among the various activities offered on the expansive campgrounds. The camp was located on a lake in a wooded region of southern central New York state.
"Come on kids," he called to them. "We’re going on a hike around the lake!" There were some smiles and some grumbling as he gathered the children around him. He figured a hike around the lake would be a good way to kill an hour, while keeping the campers busy and out of trouble. He checked that they all had their shoes tied, and he led them off.
Walking in front of them and frequently checking behind him to make sure all the campers were following close behind, the counselor took his time choosing a path through the trees, around puddles, over fallen logs.
Fifteen or twenty minutes into the hike, they reached the side of the lake opposite where they had started. The woods were thickest here, and the counselor had to choose the path with care, to avoid stepping into boggy patches of ground or getting clothes snagged on brambles.
At one point, there was a log across their path which they could not walk around, and which was too big for the children to step over, so the counselor would have to lift all of them over it. He stood behind the log, and one by one, he picked up each camper under the arms and swung him over.
He put the last child down and started moving to the front of the group to lead them on, when one of the children gasped and shouted. The counselor looked back and saw one child standing immobile, his eyes wide with fear, the blood drained from his face. The counselor stepped to the child and saw that he had unknowingly stepped on a hive of hornets or bees. They were swarming around the child, and dozens of them were crawling on the child’s feet and lower legs. The counselor’s heart leaped into his throat and adrenaline pumped into his bloodstream as he quickly bent down and started swatting the insects off the child. The child quietly said "ow" several times as the insects stung him repeatedly, and the counselor felt the burning pinprick of stings over his own hands and legs as he repeatedly and rapidly swiped his hands over the child’s feet and legs, desperately trying to get these stinging things off the child as quickly as possible. The other children quietly stood a respectful distance away, watching.
Quickly inspecting the child, the counselor believed he had gotten all of the insects off the child, but he knew that there was the possibility that one or more had crawled inside his clothes. He then heard the child begin wheezing. Fearing an allergic reaction, he swept the child up into his arms, called to the other children, "Follow me kids, quickly!" and tried his hardest to run with the child to the camp infirmary.