Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rescuing Damsels in Distress

Just before the lightning struck at my Archery Range
Perhaps a bit over stated as these Fair Maidens (Young Women) were pretty tough and strong as evidenced by the photo I snapped moments before the lightning struck. But it is rare that I get an opportunity to practice my Knight Errantry.

As explained previously, I spent the last week at Envision Woodbadge/Family Camp for the Great Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America running the Archery Range. The first few days were dusty and hot with cold nights. Then we had some spectacular rain the end of the week. The Family Camp participants were divided up into age groups much like the family program at Philmont Training Center. My wife was program director at Envision and did a great job with her organizational skills.

On Thursday afternoon the 11-year-old boys were up at the archery range in the pouring rain. I had adequate rain gear so I was OK even if I would have preferred napping in the tent or blogging under the dining pavilion - but I had trouble connecting to the sporadic wireless at camp. The boys were excited to shoot again. And 11-year-old boys are a lot of fun to work with. They haven't yet reached that point at 12-13 when they stop listening to adults. They are still respectful enough to learn and we had a lot of fun with basic archery skills. There was no way they were going to miss their scheduled time at the range. And of course, we had balloons to shoot.

So I wasn't too concerned when the young women came up at their scheduled time Friday afternoon - also in the pouring rain. There had not been any lightning or thunder the day before. And we had only heard some mild rumblings in the distant peaks on Friday. Except for the rain, there was no reason to cancel or change activities. The girls insisted on shooting and I still had my rain gear. After all, I was a Boy Scout in Seattle and learned my Scouting skills when it was really wet.

Concentrating on the archery, we never saw the bolt. The flash was more experienced anyway as it surrounded us with the immediate crack-boom of thunder. The guys next door at the rifle range said it looked like the bolt hit just above us on the ridge. People down at the dining pavilion said it looked like it was between them and the shooting sports, just a couple of tenths of a mile or so up the hill.

My reaction was instinctual to yell, "Get in the center of the shelter and down on the ground!" Which we all did smart enough to drop the metal compound bows as well. We huddled there for a few minutes not knowing what else to do worried about a second strike, but none came. The guys at the neighboring rifle range motioned us over to their more substantial structure and we made our dash through the nearly solid sheets of rain coming down.

Once inside the nice shooting pavilion, the girls were much relieved except for one who was curled up with her hands over her ears since the blast. The female adult leader was cradling her trying to calm her down. Worried about the girl going into shock, I asked if she was warm enough and took off my Philmont sweatshirt under my rain jacket to help warm her. I was then a little cold, but that's what you do.

The young women began playing games, "Going to the Moon" and Charades in an attempt to raise spirits and distract the poor girl huddled up and now rocking back and forth. The girl's reaction was nearly as frightening if not as loud and sudden as the blast itself.

Finally, another of the staff drove up to check on us and took half the girls and their leader in his vehicle while another at the rifle range drove the rest down to the pavilion where the girls could meet their families. The female leader took the troubled girl to a trailer for some warmth. The other rifle guy and I walked down as the rain was beginning to lessen in strength.

We then received the boon of hot cocoa with joyous and knightly gratitude that our lives had  been spared by the good graces of Divine Providence.
Safely sheltered at the rifle range

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