Happy Friday Campers! We have a great campfire story for you today!
The Great Chipmunk Race
In corner of Carter County, there is a place called Oak Grove. Oak Grove is home to a running training facility like nothing you have ever seen. You see, Oak Grove and Carter County is chipmunk country and The Great Chipmunk Race takes place here every spring. Every year animals from all over the county gather to watch The Great Chipmunk Race, where the fastest male chipmunks race for the title of the Fastest Chipmunk in Carter County. This year’s race was a doozy. It’s a story that will be shared for generations.
The contestants begin training in the fall. The winner of last year’s race, Gabriel was training again with his coach Mac the mockingbird and his training partner and twin sister Chelsea. That’s right Chelsea helped her brother train, but she was not allowed to enter the race. Those two could out run every chipmunk, fox or coyote in the county. The only problem was that Chelsea was actually faster than Gabriel. Coach Mac never let him forget it.
“She got you again Gabriel. It’s a good thing she isn’t allowed in the race. She’d wiped the sidewalk with you slow rodents,” Coach Mac would yell at them. “Now line up again and let’s get that speed up. Show me what a real champion looks like.”
The training went on in to the winter. And every time, Chelsea would beat Gabriel. One day after practice, she stopped by Coach Mac’s office.
“Coach Mac, do you think I could enter the race this year. I deserve to be in that race,” Chelsea asked one day.
“Oh please girl, we all you are fast, but this race is for boys. Now scoot,” Mac said gruffly.
Chelsea headed home as slowly as possible that afternoon. “I could win that race! I am faster than all of the boys! Why is it just for the dumb boys,” she muttered to herself as she walked.
“Child. What in the world are you grumbling about,” asked an old hawk from a tree limb.
Chelsea stopped. “Oh hey, Coach Hawk,” she grumbled as she looked up. “I’m just mad that even though I’m faster than my brother and I train with him every day, that I can’t enter in the Great Chipmunk Race. It’s so unfair and stupid.” Coach Hawk had spent many years training the chipmunks in this corner of the county for the Great Chipmunk Race.
The old hawk flew down to the ground, “It is dumb. Years ago I tried to enter a girl in the race, but we were denied. She was the fastest chipmunk in the county and was never recognized as such.”
She plopped down on a log and announced, “Coach Hawk, this is year I am going to change the rules! It’s time we girls were allowed to race. Would you mind helping me? I’m going to registration tomorrow.”
“Why of course! What can I do to help?” Coach Hawk walked her back to the tree house she shared with her grandmother and brother.
“Where have you been girl? Gabriel was home hours ago,” her grandmother barked. “And hello Coach Hawk. What brings you here? She ain’t in any trouble is she?”
“Oh goodness no, Edna. Chelsea and I are planning to enter her in the Great Chipmunk race tomorrow. Or at least we are going to try.”
“Oh Hawk, you know they won’t let her,” Edna said as she was interrupted.
“Grandma! It is time that we girls are allowed to compete against the boys! I’m faster than all of them. Coach Mac says so every day, yet all I am is a training partner. I can never officially compete,” Chelsea shouted. “Well I am done with this crud! Tomorrow, Coach Hawk and I going to that registration and we’re going to sign me up. And if they won’t let me enter, then I’ll start a campaign. Just you watch me,” she said stomping inside.
Grandma Edna looked over at the old Hawk. “Great, this was your idea wasn’t it?”
“It certainly was not Edna. I told her I would help. I told her the story of the fastest chipmunk I ever saw and how I tried to enter her in the race many years ago.”
“Oh Hawk, don’t be filling her head with such nonsense. You know that crazy mockingbird Mac won’t every let a girl run in that race. She is just going to end up disappointed and hurt,” Grandma Edna lamented.
“Well, it’s about high time we try to change the rules. It didn’t work the first time, but it may work this time. I’ll see you tomorrow. Keep your paws crossed for us.” Hawked waved as he flew off. Grandma Edna sat in her rocking chair shaking her head.
The next morning Chelsea rose before sunrise working on what she would say at the registration table. As she sat down to breakfast, Grandma Edna poured the tea and began to talk. “It’s registration day Gabriel. I hope you are ready to defend your title.”
“Oh yes ma’am, “he replied while stuffing acorn pancakes in his mouth.
“I’ll be registering too you know,” Chelsea declared.
“Ha! They won’t let you run in the race! You’re a girl. You should stay here and make seed jam with grandma,” Gabriel snorted.
“He’s right. You know full well Coach Mac is the strictest of all the race coaches in years. He and the race board will never let you enter,” Grandma told them.
“That’s it! You two have never believed in me, even though I can beat Gabriel fair and square! I do it every day. He doesn’t want me to enter, because he knows I’ll win. All of Oak Grove knows I’m faster than any of the boys. I’m going to register for that race,” Chelsea shouted as she slammed down her cup and stomped away from the table. Grandma Edna and Gabriel looked at each other as they’d seen a ghost.
Chelsea met Coach Hawk at the registration table by the training track. “Are you ready,” Coach Hawk asked.
“I am.” They walked up to line and waited for Gabriel to finish. “Now, if you are done. It’s my turn to register,” she snapped at Gabriel.
“Now hold on one minute Chelsea. You know girls aren’t allowed,” Coach Mac told her. “Get out of the line, while everyone else registers.”
“Come on Mac, isn’t it time for us to change the rules. Girls can run just as fast as the boys. We should include all chipmunks,” Coach Hawk pleaded.
“No! No! There will be no girls, they may be fast, but they should not be racing,” Mac yelled. “Now go!”
“Let’s go Coach Hawk. He won’t listen until girls take over the race,” Chelsea said with her head hung low. And they left the training field.
Gabriel watched his sister walk away and for the first time he felt guilty. He knew she was better than he was, yet he was the champion.
For the next few weeks, Chelsea showed up to help her brother practice, but she was grumpier and grumpier. For the first time Gabriel beat her in training. After a particularly grueling day, she announced she was quitting.
“Here’s my training vest Coach Mac,” she said solemnly as she handed him the vest. “There is no reason for me to be here. It’s pointless.”
“You sure kid? You are the best I have ever seen. I know you love it.”
“I’m sure. If girls aren’t allowed to be the champion, then there is no reason to be here,” she said as she walked away.
“Your sister, just quit. She was the best runner I had ever seen. Too bad the rules aren’t different,” Coach Mac told Gabriel as he handed him his race vest.
Gabriel just stood there. He loved his twin sister and he couldn’t imagine running without her at practice. She had always been there to push him. She made him a better runner. He didn’t know what to do. How could he, one little chipmunk, do anything to change the rules of the race.
Chelsea wandered around the treehouse aimlessly for the next several days. Even when Grandma Edna nagged at her to get up and do something, she just shrugged her shoulders and went back to her room.
Coach Hawk showed up on the front porch a few days before the race. “Afternoon, Edna. Is Chelsea home?”
“She is. Probably locked up in her room. Ever since she quit going to practice with Gabriel, all she does is moped around,” Edna explained as she shucked nut shells into a basket.
“Well, can you blame her? Girls should be able to enter the race.”
“Oh Hawk, you knew they wouldn’t let her in. That’s why I didn’t want to encourage her. I knew she would be heartbroken if they rejected her. There is no worse pain, knowing you are the best and not getting the chance to prove it.”
“Well you should know Edna. I remember training you with your brothers. You were lightning fast and they ate your dust every time. I remember your disappointment when we tried to get you in the race.”
“Exactly Hawk! It was terrible. I kept training though. What else was I going to do? I knew the rules. We ain’t going to change the board’s mind.”
“Well I certainly tried. I have been talking to Mac and the rest of them for weeks. Will you tell her I stopped by? If she ever needs a coach to keep up her running away from the boys, I am around.”
“Thanks Hawk,” Edna said from her chair.
From the kitchen window, Chelsea had heard the whole conversation.
“Grandma,” she said as sat down in the other rocking chair on the porch. “Why didn’t you ever tell me you were the fastest chipmunk in your day?”
“Well, it just never seemed important. I trained and ran with my brothers. I enjoyed those days, but like you I was never allowed to race. At some point you forget about those days. You try to forget the boys you know have trophies you could have earned. It’s all in the past now,” she talked as she shucked.
“I know you are the best runner out there, but I also know the pain of not having your dream come true. It is just the way of it,” Grandma Edna continued.
“I guess you’re right,” Chelsea sighed as she began to shuck nuts with her grandmother.
Gabriel had come back from his most successful practice yet. He stood listening to his sister and grandmother has they talked about being the best runners in the county, with no recognition. He could hardly stand it. He knew in his heart it wasn’t fair. Instead of going inside for dinner he went to find Coach Hawk.
The day before the race had arrived and the mood around the treehouse had not really changed. Chelsea was barely speaking to her brother.
“Going to practice to the last training before tomorrow. You sure you don’t want to come,” Gabriel asked Chelsea.
“No thank you. I’m going to pick gooseberries with Lucy.”
“Um, pick berries? That’s lame. I sure wished you join me.”
“I said no thank you,” she snapped even as her grandmother gave her a dirty look.
That afternoon, Chlesea was sitting on the porch looking pitiful, when her brother came in being carried by Coach Hawk. Coach Mac was right behind them with some of the other chipmunk runners.
“What’s happened? Gabriel are you ok? Grandma! Come quit,” she shouted as she got up to check on her brother.
“I sprained my back leg at practice. I won’t be able to run tomorrow. Just set me down in the rocking chair there Coach Hawk.”
“What in tarnation is going on out here? Gabriel what did you do,” Grandma asked as she looked over his leg.
“Hi Edna. Gabriel sprained his back leg. He is out for the race. Terrible too, as he surely would have been champion again,” Coach Mac said as he set down some crutches next to the rocking chair Gabriel was sitting in.
“And you just happened to be at practice Hawk,” Grandma asked suspiciously.
“Why yes Edna, I was. I was making one last ditch effort to see if Chelsea could entered in the race,” Hawk replied indignantly.
“Goodness! Well everyone needs to skedaddle out of here and let Gabriel rest,” Grandma said as she shooed everyone away. “Come child, let’s get you inside. There’s always next year’s race.”
“I would like it if Hawk carried me grandma. And Chelsea can you carry my crutches?”
The three of them went to Gabriel’s room. Chelsea put the crutches by her brother’s bed.
“Chelsea, you are going to run in the race tomorrow,” Gabriel said sternly.
“You’re nuts! I can’t run that race, she replied while fluffing his pillows on the bed.
“Oh yes you can,” Coach Hawk chimed in. “We are going to put some white chalk on your tail and everyone will think you are Gabe. You will tell everyone your grandmother used some bramble bush ointment on your leg to heal it. This is our chance to show them that girls should be allowed to race.”
Chelsea stood there and stared at her brother and Coach Hawk. She couldn’t believe her ears. These two had lost their minds and yet, she wanted to go along with their scheme. What would happen when their grandmother found out? Or when Coach Mac discovered her? Or when the whole county figured out she was impersonating her brother?
“No way! You two have lost it! There is no way that will ever work. Are you sure you didn’t hit you head and not your leg, Gabriel?”
“Chelsea, you are the best runner in the county. Everyone around here knows that. You deserve this chance. It’s your time to prove to Mac and the board that girls belong in the race.”
“You know you have to do it,” Coach Hawk said. “I’ll meet you at old oak tree crossing before the race. We have your brother’s race vest and the chalk.” Hawk pulled the items from a satchel he had been carrying.
“Seriously? Are we going to do this? I may be just as nuts as you two for joining in on this plan.”
“No one changed the world by being normal,” Coach Hawk said patting her on the back. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Can I get anything,” Chelsea asked.
“I’m good. Get some rest, you have a big race to win tomorrow,” he replied smiling.
The next morning, Chelsea rose earlier than usual. She had a hard time sleeping. When she was asleep, she had the same nightmare over and over. There she was running the big race and coming in last.
“You going to watch the races,” Grandma Edna asked both of them as they sat down for dinner.
“I’m going to pick berries with Lucy,” Chelsea replied.
“Some of the fellas who didn’t make the race are taking me fishing,” said Gabe.
“Well, I have nuts to shuck, so it looks like the whole family will miss it,” she said matter-of-factly.
Everyone went about their day, Gabriel left with his friends and Chelsea left to meet Coach Hawk.
As she slipped on the vest with her brother’s number, Hawk chalked the tip of her tail so it would be white.
They headed for the race. “Oh Hawk, I just don’t think this is going to work. They’ll hear it’s me when I talk.”
“Let me take care of that, Coach Mac will be so thrilled his champion runner is healed, he won’t notice that I’m doing all the talking.”
When they arrived at the field Coach Mac came flying over! “Gabe! You’re healed! Good to have you back.”
“Old Edna used some of that bramble bush ointment and it fixed him right up. Go ahead and head for the starting line and I’ll tell the registration table,” Hawk said.
“Wow. That Edna must have some magic in that ointment. I was sure he wouldn’t be able to run for weeks. Sure is amazing how he healed so fast,” Mac said giving Hawk a funny look.
Hawk chuckled nervously, “Well you know that old lady has some tricks up her sleeve.”
“Uh huh,” Mac replied walking off still looking at Hawk.
Chelsea could hardly believe she was at the big race. Her heart was racing and her paws were sweaty. She wanted to run away and not run in the race. She kept checking her tail. She was so worried the white was going to rub off.
“Stop fussing! You are going to give yourself away,” Hawk whispered. “Now get out there and win one for all the girl chipmunks in the stands.”
Luckily, neither of them had noticed Grandma Edna, sitting in the stands.
The racers lined up and took their positions. The starting gun went off and for a split second Chelsea couldn’t move, but then her instinct kicked in and she took off. She was behind the other runners as they took the first corner. Unable to find an opening in the runners, she slowed just a bit and got a better view of the field. She saw it! It was a small opening and she took her chance. Boom! She was off threw the main field and fast as ever.
She caught up with their other racing partner, Ben who was in first place.
“I was wondering where you were,” he uttered in between fast breaths.
Chelsea just nodded and found the rest of her footing and took the lead just as they rounded the third turn. They were almost to the finish line! She was going to win. A girl was going to win the Great Chipmunk Race! She sped through the finish line ribbon and almost kept running. She was so fully of joy! But then reality set in and she began to worry what everyone would say when they found out the truth. She would probably be disqualified. The whole race would be thrown out. No matter what, she had won and had shown everyone that girls deserved to be in the race too.
Hawk arrived at the finish line with a towel. Everyone was patting her on the back and chanting her brother’s name. As the people began to disperse, Grandma Edna and Gabriel walked up. Wait a minute! What is he doing here, she panicked.
“Well, I thought you three might be up to something. Hawk give me that towel,” Grandma said as she took the towel and wiped off the chalk. “I should be mad at all of you, but wow! Chelsea you were amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of you. That took real courage to be part of this hair brained scheme,” grandma laughed as she hugged her. “And Gabriel, you sure did heal fast,” she laughed grabbing him into the hug too.
“We can’t get much by you grandma,” laughed Gabriel. “It was time to show everyone that a girl should win the race.”
“Wait! You aren’t hurt,” Chelsea shouted! “This was all a big scheme! I should to be mad you and Hawk! I thought you were really hurt,” she shouted. “You did this for me Gabe. Thank you brother. Thank you.” And she grabbed her brother and began to cry.
“At least Edna here ain’t too mad at us, now let’s see about the rest of these folks,” Hawk said.
Hawk was just about to pick up Chelsea and show her off to the crowd when Coach Mac and the rest of the race board members walked over.
“Well this is highly irregular! Highly irregular,” fussed an old marmot.
“No girls allowed! We should disqualify her and the void the whole race,” shouted a porcupine.
“Now listen here! It’s time we let girls enter the race! Chelsea just proved that she is the best racer in the county and she earned that win,” said a lady fox.
“I’m with Cicely on this one,” Coach Mac declared. “It’s time we let the fastest runner win. And if that happens to be a girl, then so be it.”
They all turned around and stared at Coach Mac. They couldn’t believe their ears. He had always been so against letting girls in the race.
“I knew you were fast Chelsea, but I never thought you could win and you just proved me wrong. I’ve only ever seen one other chipmunk as fast as you when I was just a kid. She never got to enter the race though. Yep Edna, it seems that you finally get to win- through your granddaughter.”
“You stubborn old mockingbird,” laughed Hawk. “I knew one day you’d change your mind,” he said laughing. He slapped Mac on the back hard enough to make him hop.
The board gathered in a circle and they all watched with great anticipation to see what their verdict would be. A few minutes later, the lady fox whispered in Hawk’s ear.
Suddenly Hawk lifted Chelsea up in to the air and shouted “Our champion!” The whole stadium cheered.
Just a few days after the race, girl chipmunks joined racing teams all over Carter County. Next year’s race should be a doozy. I’m not sure anyone will be able to beat Chelsea, the girl that changed the Great Chipmunk Race.
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