I put the Adventure in Adventure Camp: Part 1

Noon.  On the creek bank.  Fifteen 10-12 year olds.  Adventure Survial Camp.  Overnight canoe trip. 

There I stood, on the bank, camp director, 1 Jr. Counselor, myself, and 15 preteens.  We all had our gear.  We were all gung ho, ready to take on the creek. Ready to canoe to the campsite.  

I grabbed a paddle and started my speech on how to properly hold a paddle, the parts of the canoe,  and where to tie off their gear in their waterproof bags.  I explained the role of the person in the bow and the person in the stern.  Then each of them grabbed a paddle, and we walked through strokes.  I taught them to “aim for the v’s”,  to “lean into an obstacle, not away”, and how to use the paddle as a rudder.   Everyone was doing so well.  Everyone was smiling.  Everyone was ready for the water, ready for adventure.

Once in the water, the camp director took up the front with all the kids who had canoed before.  The jr. counselor and  I followed in the rear and took on all the kids who were new to canoeing . 

To say we hit problems early would be an understatement.  But it was an adventure.  We were all taking it in stride.  Kids were canoeing from one bank of the stream to another, bouncing like ping pong balls.  It was slowing us down (we were about a half hour behind), but they were getting it. 


UNTIL we hit mini rapids.  I am not talking about whitewater here.  I am talking about a current that picks up the speed a bit.  Some more rocks to avoid.  A shallow point bar.  A deeper, faster moving  current along the cut bank. 

One canoe group was starting to get annoyed at the fact that they couldn’t steer.  They saw the faster current and panicked.  They let the current take them… right into a boulder.  I was yelling to them, “LEAN IN, LEAN IN”.  They let go of their paddles.  The current took the paddles down stream and stuck in some detritus against a bank.  They leaned away from the rock, and over they went, capsizing the canoe. 

They climbed up on the bank, wet sneakers slipping against the rocks.  They looked petrified.  Their canoe, filled with water, was wedged on its side between a rock and the bank.  I freed it, then stood along side it and tilted it as much as I could before I got under it.  I  lifted it up over my head to flip it over. With the canoe above my head, I looked up at the bank and  noticed one of the kids on the bank beginning to scream and swat at himself.  I flipped the canoe over, just in time to see him start running back and forth screaming, “BEES!!!! BEES!!!!” 

There he was, running back and forth through a patch of waist high stinging nettle, screaming, “BEES!!” 

People, I couldn’t make this stuff up. 

I finally got him to run towards me (after much yelling over his hysteria) to get him out of the patch of nettle and onto the bank.  In the mean time, my junior counselor reigned in the 2 other canoes that were with us  (for a total of 4 canoes and 7 kids … one canoe with three kids) and had them on the point bank.  She went down stream to get the paddles. 

I treated the  boy  with the stinging nettle. Whimpering, he agreed to move on.  We were now an hour behind.

We hit calm water, which took the stress off the kids who were now a little shaken up.  As we were paddling, I noticed a Great Blue Heron ahead, standing in the creek.  The quiet  was pierced with a yell, “WE’RE SINKING!” 

The Blue Heron took flight, wings slapping the water. 

I paddled quickly over to the canoe.  The canoe was taking on water from a crack that must have formed when pushed up on the point bar.  It had not gone noticed at first because the gear was covering the hole.  We stopped.  We were not near any homes.  There were no cell phones.  We had to deal with this now. 

I tried medical tape to try to seal the crack. I was desperate.  It helped only slightly.  We moved the heavy gear from the canoe and traded it for a kid.  It added more weight,  but his job was to bail out the bottom as the others paddled.  We had to catch up. 

We had to get to a phone. 

We had to get a new canoe. 

Return here tomorrow for Part 2 of the Adventure Camp saga. 

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3 Responses to “I put the Adventure in Adventure Camp: Part 1”

  1. Casey 17 November 2008 at 10:04 pm #

    Wow, ten twelve year olds, that scares me. I’m scared of one. Glad you guys made it out safely..

    Casey’s last blog post..Club Half As Small As You: Week 5


  2. Brenda - SeriouslyMama 18 November 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    I am dying here! We totally have to trade camp stories. I’ve got one just like this one but mine involves a first period and a wilderness survival trip. ;-)

    Heading over to part 2…

    Brenda – SeriouslyMama’s last blog post..Things…


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