Fearing storms would derail a family camping trip at a Wisconsin state park, Kevin R. Spahr wanted to come home Saturday, two days into the four-day excursion with his son, Kyle, and daughter, Allison.
But Allison, 10, of Cary, persuaded him to let them stay, saying it would be fine, her mother, Barb Spahr, recalled Monday.
"I was teasing her that she wasn't going to miss me because she was going to have so much fun," Barb said of Allison before she went on the trip. "She assured me that yes, she was going to miss me. And I blew her a kiss and that was the last time I saw her."
Early Sunday morning, Allison, the youngest of five children, was killed at Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin, when thunderstorms felled a large tree onto the tent that contained the sleeping girl, her father and brother. She was pronounced dead shortly after rescuers were called to the scene about 4 a.m.
"From all outward appearances, it was a mature, healthy oak tree," Bob Manwell, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said Sunday. "It was toppled over, torn out from the roots."
Kevin, 51, and Kyle, 13, were treated for injuries at St. Clare Hospital and have returned home, Barb said.
Allison comes from a tight-knit family and her parents home-schooled their children.
"We're Christian and we wanted to ... keep being with them," Barb said. "I didn't want them to be gone all day at school, and we've had a very close family because of that. We wanted to have some control over what they were taught."
Math was Allison's least favorite subject, her mother said. But the girl loved puzzles and reading, especially adventures and mysteries. The "Ranger's Apprentice" series of fantasy novels was one of her favorites.
Allison played soccer with the Cary Soccer Association, bounced on a trampoline with the neighborhood kids, and was looking forward to the sprouting of the pink sunflowers she planted with her mother. Baking cookies and making crafts were other things that gave her joy.
"She was a cheerful sweetheart. ... I don't know, how do you describe your child?" her mother asked. "She was my buddy."
The family had been to Devil's Lake State Park several times before as a unit.
But within the past few years, only Allison, her father and brother went because the older kids, Bryan 21, Lauren, 18, and Eric, 16, have jobs. Barb didn't go this time because she was driving Eric to and from a soccer game in Rockford.
The trio spent the first two days fishing, hiking and climbing a wall of large boulders, Barb said.
There were no other reports of injuries caused by the storm at the 9,200-acre park near Wisconsin Dells, officials said.
While the park has seen fatalities from drowning and rock-climbing accidents over the years, Steve Schmelzer, the park's superintendent, said he cannot recall a falling tree killing anyone in the two decades he's worked there.
As part of her Christian upbringing, Allison read the Bible every day for school, memorized hundreds of verses and prayed with her mother every night before she went to bed, her mom said.
Allison was also enrolled in Awana, a Bible club for children at Harvest Bible Chapel in Crystal Lake.
"She loved Jesus with all her heart, and because of that, we know she's in heaven," her mother said through tears.
Funeral services are Friday night at Harvest Bible Chapel, 580 Tracy Trail, Crystal Lake.