Some of my absolute favorite memories from childhood are playing Pig Pen at my house. At the house I blogged about in this post. I even mentioned Pig Pen in that post. And in that post there are some pictures so you get a bit of a sense about how big the yard was. The house sat on two acres. There was lots of yard. Lots of room to play.
Okay so Pig Pen goes like this. Someone is It. And there is an area designated as the Pig Pen. And it's always played at night, outside, in the dark. Whoever is It counts and everyone scatters and hides. Yes, very much like that other game. But remember...it's dark...and kind of scary. Okay so It finishes counting and heads out with a flashlight to find people. So when the person who is It finds someone, he (or she) says "1-2-3 (name of person) you're in my pig pen!" You have to identify the person by name...which makes it all a little bit harder because again, say it with me, it's dark.
Alright so let's say I've been caught. "1-2-3 Clare you're in my pig pen!" I must go to the area previously designated as the Pig Pen, where I will stay, until the game ends (everyone is in the pig pen) or I am freed by someone else. This occurs when someone else sneaks into the pig pen area and touches me. Then we flee like mad. So It now is a) looking for others to throw in the Pig Pen and b) trying to guard the Pig Pen. People, the tension can be HIGH.
I started playing this game when I was fairly young with my brother and the neighborhood kids and it was big fun. But then in high school...that's when Pig Pen made the Big Time. We would wear camouflage. We would paint our faces. We would scale trees, dig trenches, lay traps. (Okay maybe not all of that but we definitely climbed trees). People arrived for the games with a strategy. Stories would surface about run ins with raccoons and other creatures of the night. There would be injuries. We would play that game until the wee hours of the morning and we would laugh. The kind of laughing that I can only do with that group of people. Oh and that group of people? They were my youth group friends. I can't describe them...there really aren't words. Just, you know, salt of the earth kind of people. We had an age range of probably 10 years or so. I'd say at least five different high schools were represented. Our leaders would come out and play with us. They were in college and I can assure you, they had as much fun as we did.
Okay honestly? I now want to play a game of Pig Pen so bad I can hardly finish the post. All of you Agape people? I am hosting Pig Pen at my house at some point this summer. Hold me to it. July.
Anyway, I can remember it all so well. We would all congregate and usually eat dinner, a frozen lasagna or two got pulled out of the oven. Someone would get designated as It...and we were off. The thrill of tearing through the dark trying to find a good spot before It came after you. Hearing rustling in the bushes and not knowing if it was a friend...or an animal. Hiding with someone you had a crush on was awesome. I can remember the smells - just those fabulous earthy smells when your face is pressed up against a tree...or the dirt. Holding my breath with my heart pounding when the flashlight was close to me. Plotting to go rescue someone. The smell of Off. Then debriefing and telling stories, and exaggerating those stories on the porch when we had played ourselves out.
Those nights are some of my very favorite memories from growing up and I had no idea, at the time, how lucky I was, or that 20+ years later I would look back on those nights and mark them as I have in my memory. Which is what I think about sometimes when I watch Sarah. Will she remember this? Will this be one of the things that sticks with her? I hope she has as much fun and as many good stories from her youth as I do. Now I feel kind of challenged. There might be Pig Pen at her next sleepover.