Miss Beadle assigns the class a leaf-collecting project over a school holiday.
When Laura announces that their father is taking them on a camp-out, Nellie
protests that they have an unfair advantage.
At home, Harriet sympathizes with her children and pressures Nels to find out
where the Ingalls will be camping and take Nellie and Willie there, too. Nels
drives out to the farm and makes the excuse that he would like to go fishing.
He is surprised when Charles invites him to join them. Feeling guilty, he
admits that his wife is really behind the whole thing. Charles graciously
points out that few people come out to his farm just to comment on the evening
and had suspected something was up.
Nels gives Caroline a discount on some of the supplies she is buying for the
trip, since she will be cooking for everyone. Harriet is surprised to find
that Caroline is going, too, and remembers outdoor excursions with her family when she was young.
That night, she decides that she will come along with Nels and the children
anyway. Charles is unhappy when all four Olesons arrive and storms into the
barn. He tells Caroline that he will not go on a trip with Mrs. Oleson.
Caroline reminds him that Mary and Laura would be expected to get along with
Nellie and Willie and will be disappointed if they can't go at all. Charles tells her to give some excuse and that the children will understand.
The next scene shows Charles carrying Carrie on his shoulder as the group heads
up into the mountains. Harriet falls into the water and drenches herself while
Nels carries all of their belongings. The Ingalls stop at least once as a
concession to their neighbors' lack of experience in the outdoors.
When they arrive at the campsite, Charles and Nels go fishing while the women
set up the camp. Caroline gets the Ingalls' tent up shortly, but Harriet has a terrible time with the Olesons' tent.
Caroline offers help, but Harriet refuses and waxes on about her skills. She
is finally forced to admit that she needs help and the two women finish up.
In the meantime, Nellie follows Laura and Willie follows Mary, each trying to
grab any unique or interesting leaves. Mary tries to keep Willie away, but he
is under his sister's orders. She tries to stop him from grabbing some attractive leaves, but he refuses to listen.
Laura joins her and explains that Nellie did the same thing to her and Willie
won't be sorry. Mary thinks he will be as the leaves he grabbed were from a
poison ivy plant.
Nels and Charles return with several fish. Nels is pleasantly surprised that
his wife was able to set up camp herself (a belief supported by Caroline who
does not mention helping her). Harriet insists on frying the fish and Nels
thinks it will be okay, but that night, Charles finds him eating the charred
remains of his own meal. Charles offers some of his own meal to Nels.
In the meantime, Mary and Laura watch with worry as Nellie and Willie show
their mother the leaves they found. Mary hopes for the best, but as Laura
spies Mrs. Oleson stroking the pretty soft leaves, she is not convinced they
will be fine.
The next day, Caroline helps coat Harriet and Willie with a salve to ease their
itching. Harriet bravely tells her husband to go fishing again and she will be fine.
Nellie attaches herself to the girls and, then to Laura, when they separate.
Laura tries to prevent Nellie from going too far out into the river, but Nellie
won't listen. She falls in and the rapid current pulls her out. Laura goes in
after her and the two girls struggle for a long time to get out of the water.
Mary returns without Laura and Charles suspects that his other daughter will
return soon. When neither Laura nor Nellie come back, the fathers go out and
search for them.
Laura finally manages to pull herself and Nellie to safety before they reach a
small but treacherous waterfall. Nellie immediately blames Laura for the
incident and accuses her of pushing her in. Laura gets angry, but apologizes
when Nellie starts crying, recognizing that she's had a terrible fright.
Back at the camp, both mothers worry about their girls. Harriet acknowledges
her lack of friendliness in the past and pledges a change if their children
return. Caroline is gracious and encourages her to believe that they are fine.
But when the girls come back drenched and muddy, Nellie resumes her accusations
against Laura and turns her mother's mood foul. The tentative friendship
between the two families is now back on edge.
Everyone returns home and school resumes. Miss Beadle announces the winners of the leaf-collecting contest are a brother and sister - Nellie and Willie. Mary and Laura are not too annoyed, however, as both Oleson children are now covered with poison-ivy-fighting salve.
Unfortunately, they are forced to avert their eyes as Miss Beadle conspicuously