When the McDaniel family left their cabin at Myrtle Beach State Park, they accidentally left something important behind: their 5-year-old son’s stuffed bear.
The family returned home before they noticed and quickly called the state park to see if the bear was still there. The park’s staff had not cleaned out the cabin, so they went in and the bear was there.
The park rangers decided to make sure the bear was well taken care of as he awaited transport home.
Assistant Park Manager Amanda Jenkins said a woman who worked in the park’s office suggested the staff members give the stuffed bear his own “mini-vacation” before going home to Columbia. The purpose was to show Thompson his bear was happy while they were apart.
The bear was given a little ranger hat and set off on his own adventure.
“We wanted to show how much fun the bear had on his little mini-vacation,” Jenkins said.
The family sent a box to the state park to get the bear sent back. Jenkins said the box came late Friday, so the park staff used the afternoon to take pictures of the bear doing activities around the park before the mail would run again.
Thompson’s bear went fishing, hung out with park rangers and rode around in a state park service truck. Once his adventure was done, the bear was put into the box and shipped to Thompson.
The South Carolina State Parks posted on its official Facebook page the story of Thompson and his bear. The post was shared over 1,000 times.
The bear arrived home Wednesday afternoon. Due to his adventure, Thompson renamed the bear Mr. “Junior Ranger Bear,” according to his dad, Greg McDaniel.
Thompson was excited to be reunited with the stuffed bear. Greg McDaniel said he especially enjoyed seeing the photos of his bear on the job at the state park. The rangers also sent printed copies of the photos, including some not on the Facebook post.
“When he saw the photos, he said ‘bear went fishing,’” McDaniel said.
Jenkins said she was thrilled the Myrtle Beach State Park was able to help reunite Thompson with his bear.
“What could have been a negative experience for for Thompson, we were able to turn it around,” she said.