Flames That Twirl

September 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

Have you ever set a fire?

One summer, baton camp ended with flames, ashes and fire trucks.

I was in middle school and that summer my twin Mel and I joined several hundred other girls for a two-week stay at a college campus in the mountains of Arizona.

The daily schedule included classes of varying kinds for all levels and ages. We competed in small contests, learned new routines, and reunited with our friends from the summer before.

Our housing included dorms on the college campus and on opposite sides of the grounds in another set of dorms. Some of our best friends ended up across campus. My twin and I stayed in a dorm far away from them.

We wanted to be near them, so Mel and I took on the names of two girls who didn’t care where they slept. We then traded rooms via the fire escape.

We became Jennifer and Sally, the two girls from dorm G, while Jennifer and Sally became Pam and Mel, and they moved into our room in dorm T.

One day in the cafeteria, the worker asked the girls with tags, Pam and Mel if they were fraternal twins since they didn’t look alike. I had instructed them to say all the right things.

All week, no one caught on, not until the day everything went up in flames.

Our teacher had moved our group to the street for safety reasons, so if we dropped our fire batons, nothing burned up—at least in theory.

She, along with her assistants, soaked the wicks on the end of our batons in gasoline. We held them out in front of us as the ends were lit.

I have a knack for bumping, dropping, and creating mishaps—and this teacher had no idea how dangerous I might be to myself and others.

Then it happened, my right hand twitched. I looked up to the sky, and without thinking, I opted for a high toss. One quick toss and I’d catch it. But the baton sailed upward in a ball of fire and beauty twirls.

And never came down.

My baton got stuck on a limb of this giant tree and hovered over the class of girls. The flames on the end of my baton swept like a whirlwind of orange, consuming the leaves and tiny branches, and the tree burst into a ball of flames.

The homeowner rushed to the street. She screamed. I screamed. My sister screamed. The teacher screamed. A choir of panic set in and someone called the fire department.

After the fire trucks left and their water hoses doused the flames, my nightmare ended. Now all eyes were on me. I became the girl who started a fire at camp.

Talk about a horrible, no-good, very bad day.

Oh, and remember the real Jennifer and Sally, the girls who traded rooms with us? For some reason they didn’t want to be involved in our shenanigans anymore and we had to move back to our old dorm.

To make matters worse, the camp director caught wind of the fire, heard about our trading rooms and assuming new names. Yes, you guessed it, more scolding took place. Well, at least Mel was in on this one.

Before the director sent us on our way, he director shared how we had been candidates for campers of the week. Had been. Have you ever watched your day go up in flames? Have you wished to be someone else?

Well, I learned one thing from that fiery day—there’s always another day, another class, another opportunity to twirl, another toss to make. The key is to be you and remember there’s a God above who removes mistakes. He’s slow to anger, unlike that teacher I had at camp, and God is always compassionate toward me, unlike the director. And no matter if I cause the fire, or not, He is ready to lift me from the ashes.

Speaking of compassion, my twin and I did receive camper of the week at the closing ceremony—even though those few hot moments almost took our prize away.

By the time I attended high school, I’d become pretty good with the fire baton.

That is, until the night I caught the football field on fire—but not to worry, they didn’t need fire trucks this time.

About Pam Kumpe

Pam Kumpe writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column for the Bowie County Life/ Texarkana Gazette newspaper. She is the host of “Permission to Have Fun” an online podcast filled with fun, faith and encouragement. She is the author of three books, “A Scoop of Inspiration,” “See You in the Funny Papers” and a children’s book “In the Lick of Time.” When life seems out of tune, she sings with her bird Angel, who also sings off-key and she often shares her blonde escapades speaking at retreats and events, for more go to http://www.pamkumpe.com
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2 Responses to “Flames That Twirl”
  1. Amen to that! Keep twirling, girl!

  2. Every time I read this, it make me smile. And giggle a little bit too!

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