Sunday, November 23, 2014

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 3: Pioneering

Our last merit badge to work on was Pioneering. We decided to build a tower that had a ladder to climb up and a platform where you could stand once you made it to the top. Now, we had practiced our lashing and knots for weeks ahead of the camp. So we know what to do. But we had never built anything that we would actually climb on.

Luckily, Dave Freeman was the expert and he came up Friday afternoon with the ropes and poles. As soon as he arrived we started building. First we lashed together the platform. Once that was done we started on the structure that would support the platform. Finally, we built the ladder that would allow us to climbed up. The platform of the tower was about 10 feet off the ground.

The boys had a great time building it and Burt and Dave did a fantastic job working with them. In few hours we were ready to hoist the tower from the ground and test our great pioneering skills. The test would come by having each boy climb up -- one of a time, of course.

Just as we got the tower in place, the storms came back. It started out as rain. We are all wet from having built the tower on the ground that was rain-soaked from last night’s storm. So the rain was by no means a showstopper.

As the boys took turns climbing the tower, Dave, Burt, and I a noticed that the lashings we made were not as tight as they should be. Each boy that climbed the towered comprised the integrity of the structure. After the last boy got down, it started to pour. Then the wind kicked up. The boys were really anxious for me to climb that tower and it was my turn.

I feared for my life. By now there was no way that tower could bear my weight. Luckily, God had a better plan. The downpour turned into a severe thunder storm. We are surrounded by bright flashes of lighting and instant, powerful thunder claps. Soon a microburst developed and the tall pines around our camp were bending near at point of breaking.

Our tents had all collapsed and the only safe place of retreat was the bathroom. So we all made our way to that solid structure to ride out the storm. Once we were all safe in the building, we watched out the door as the storm raged. As I said, our tents were already flattened. All the gear we had on the picnic tables and around the tower were stern in all directions. All that stood was the tower.

Well, not for long. We watched in amazement as the tower rocked in the wind, spun around as if it were a top, and then crumbled to a pile of logs and ropes. Not a single lash survived that storm. The good news was I didn’t have to climb our poor little sagging tower.

As quickly as the storm came, it left and the winds died down completely. We turned our attention to cleaning up the pile of logs and ropes and repairing our tents. That night was peaceful and uneventful. But the boys loved telling about braving the tornado. This is if you consider cowering in a public restroom braving the storm.

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