Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I could not get over Ruthie. She was completely calm. She just eyed us all with mild curiosity and only slightly flinched as the needle hit home. Ruthie insisted she was feeling fine. I couldn't help but notice she seemed a bit pleased with all the attention. However, since she had never before received emergency care via the bee sting kit, I could take no chances. I knew she should have professional follow up.

Now the need to get help was urgent and the wind was picking up. I settled Ruthie in a canoe with the two counselor who were the strongest, most experienced paddlers and the girls took off, stroking furiously. We had seen only one house on the trip down. I had told the girls to try there to see if they could use the phone or if maybe the people could drive Ruthie to the camp where we had a well stocked pharmacy and a resident nurse.

I knew as strong and as motivated as girls were, they should make it back to camp in about 45 minutes if no help was found. Ruthie's shot should last for a couple of hours before another one might be needed.

Only later did I learn what happened to them. The storm really kicked up and became a thunder storm along the shore line in the direction of my paddlers. They saw the one house on that side of the lake and paddled for the dock which sat high out of the water.

They pulled under the dock and one of the girls was climbing up a ladder to get help when a man ran down the hill screamed at them to go away. They asked to use his phone but he said the phones were out and to just "go away." He was actually carrying a rifle. Guess he thought two young women and a child were a threat. I can not fathom why he would send them back into the storm. He must have skimmed over that "Good Samaritan" chapter in the Big Book.

Mad but scared, they paddled away staying close to the shore line, putting a pox on that man with every stroke. There was a fierce crack of thunder behind them and when they turned, the dock they had just been under had taken a direct hit. It was splintered and smoking.. The nasty man was running frantically for his house.

Now they were quite grateful he had been such an a** hole and had run them off. That could have been them smoldering. That bolt of lightning was the storms last gasp for the skies quickly cleared, the winds died down and they had an uneventful remainder of the trip.

Back on the island we are sitting under tarps trying to stay dry. The storm was moving rapidly and the bad part of the storm with the lightning was east of us so we mainly got the strong winds with only light rain. I could only pray my canoe girls were out of danger. I was seriously second guessing my decision to send them ahead.

Huddled under several tarps, we were singing Janis Joplin's song "Mercedes Benz". Each group was trying to out "loud" the other. I heard a sharp crack and the ground shook under us. I looked out and saw a long limb as thick as my thigh that the wind had dislodged, lying within two feet of my group. Had it hit, it would have caused serious braining. We had been low to the ground in the opening but then moved even farther from the trees. There was no "good "spot.

It seemed forever but the winds finally eased off some and the sky was clearing. We were standing on the beach, waiting for just a little less wind before getting in the canoes and setting off for camp. Then we heard the lovely roar of the motor boat.

I had a group of pretty happy campers then as we knew Ruthie was safe at camp and help was on the way. With a bunch of tow ropes, we strung the canoes together behind the motor boat and in a long train, headed slowly back to camp. My girls enjoyed and deserved the free ride.

We were not the only ones who had stories to tell that day. The mountaineer group had been caught in the brunt of the storm. Had it not been for a hiker's cabin they found and managed to pack into, they would have been in serious trouble. They said the lightning and wind on the mountain was fierce.

That evening we all gathered in the lodge around the fire place with hot chocolate and the campers told their stories of near disaster. There had been five separate incidents. The adults were very quiet while the campers excitedly chatted about all the adventures. Each group trying to out do the other in near misses. Enthusiastically they proclaimed this was their best summer camp,"EVER". Ruthie was glowing as she occupied center stage.

We adults were just so grateful that we could all look over our hot chocolate at one another that evening and smile, however weakly.


  1. Most interesting tale. I enjoyed reading it. My mind got stuck on the two words -- Hot Chocolate. Now I can't think of anything else.

  2. Those experiences tend to be the most memorable. Uneventful journeys are just that. This one was wild. I bet all the kids (now adults) still remember it.

  3. Thanks Abe. Hope you finally got your hot chocolate. When I see or hear the the words Hot Dog, I become obsessed. Aw crap, now I have done it to myself.

    Right you are robin. It's the trip where most things go wrong that we remember.
    I do wonder how those kiss turned out. They were a special group.

  4. Whew Patti.... I think I must have been on that trip with you all... My heart was beating so fast just reading your story!!!!

    Can't believe the man who told them to get off of his property... GADS---bet he won't end up in heaven unless he changes his ways. GADS!

    Glad you ALL made it back safely--and those kids will have stories to tell for the rest of their lives.


  5. Hi Betsy,
    I used to like to think that the lightning bolt that hit that guys dock was no accident and I'm sure wasn't aimed at my girls. He was a real turkey. What could he have possibly been thinking?
    I'm sure those girl's children and grands, heard the story many times.

  6. Oh my! It must have been very scary for you to be responsible for all those girls in that situation. What an adventure!

  7. Jewels,
    It was one I would never want again. Some people thrive on being responsible for others lives, not this girl. I got most of my grey hair that summeer.

  8. I am sure they continues to tell their tales for many years. That must have been an exciting day for all!

  9. kenju
    I know here I am 35 years later telling my tale. I hope time took the rough edges off the experience for them.

  10. I bet those girls still tell their version of this tale, and maybe embellish it tad, as would I.

  11. nitwit,
    You're righr. Ruthie is probably telling here kids that she was feeling her throat closing on that little island and she barely excaped death. Go for it girls, you earned it.