An Eagle’s Eye of the Storm
During the years that I have been involved with the Troop, we were dubbed the name of “THE RAINMAKERS” and it still sticks with us today. During the earlier years that I did a lot of camping with the troop, it seemed that it always rained in some way, shape or form. When my oldest son Davey was in the troop and my youngest son was a Webelo getting ready to cross over into the troop, we did a campout at Choke Canyon which was the campout that the Webelos needed to do in order to earn their Arrow of Light. Well, there was supposed to be rain coming in from the coast but was not supposed to be bad storms. It rained throughout Friday night into Saturday. By the time camp woke up on Saturday morning, the lake was on the rise from the storm (had already been a rainy season and lake was already high). Breakfast was cooked and the day’s events began, even with the rain being off and on. One of the Troop adult leaders came into camp during mid morning and announced that heavier storms were headed our way with threats of tornadoes all around and to last into the night but diminishing by the morning. Not used to the “scouting way and being prepared”, my idea was to pack up and go home.
All the adults present from different troops through out the scouting area of the Four Rivers District (now is the Longhorn District) discussed the possibilities of what was needed to be done and was decided that we would stick it out at the lake because we did have a few structures to get into versus trying to drive in the heavy rain and wind and maybe into/through a tornado along the way with no protection at all. Troops/packs had campsites pitched up every where around the picnic areas. Our area was on top of a dip in the ground a ways from the lake (very good distance) as not to worry about flooding. Several of us adults had taken most of the scouts to the safe swim area so they could do some swimming and playing around in the water…was having rain off and on but nothing severe, no lighting and hard rain yet. Well, by this time, the water had built up in that dip area and had crept into some of our Webelo’s tents that were closer to the dip. Needless to say that everything in those tents got soaking wet including the sleeping bags. We pulled everything out of the tents and moved them to higher ground hoping that they would dry out with the morning sun by the time we left. Thankfully, the other Webelo leader and I had an extra stock of blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and odds & ends to help out. Any thing dry we found, we put up in the campers on our trucks to keep dry. We went through the day watching the storms around us, keeping the scouts busy and their minds off the storms. After the evening meal, we all had kicked around what we were going to do with all the scouts whose tents got wet (included a couple of small troops), with the question of where we were going to sleep. The biggest place that was safe was actually the restrooms (didn’t realize that they were so large), which were made of cement blocks and couldn’t feel the wind at all. We rolled scouts from one end of each restroom to the other end (yes including the ladies room. weren’t very many ladies in camp and the doors were full doors so scouts couldn’t see anything even if a lady needed to use the restroom). We did start with the men’s/boys' restroom and stacked scouts like sardines all going sideways as to make enough room for those that may need it later in the night…gotta do what ya gotta do in times of need.
We maybe had 20 scouts in the men’s/boys' restroom by bed time with flashlights and chit chat going strong. The storms and sleeping in the bathroom didn’t seem to damper their spirits at all and gave them an experience that most would avidly tell you about it today once reminded of that campout. The other Webelo Leader, myself and a couple of other female leaders rolled out in the ladies room. By 10:00 that night, the storms really started hitting hard. Within just a half an hour, all that was on lower ground headed for higher structures. namely the bathrooms because it was the closest thing around. There was still quite a bit of room (surprisingly) in the boys/men’s bathroom so they stacked in there. By Midnight, we started rolling out scouts in the ladies restroom just to get them out of the weather. A few troops did weather it out on higher grounds with tents that could withstand the weather. When we all woke up the next morning, we were like sardines falling out of the can rolling out the restrooms. The sun was out onto a bright sun shiny day. Several parents traveled to where we were (no cell phones during those days) to check and make sure we made it through the night okay. Needless to say, the scouts had the best day fishing ever. I COULDN’T EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU OF ALL THE HUGE CATFISH THEY CAUGHT BECAUSE OF THE HIGH WATERS WHICH BROUGHT THEM CLOSER TO SHORE. COOKING WAS GOOD THAT SUNDAY NIGHT WITH MANY STORIES TO TELL AROUND THE DINNER TABLE…WITH QUITE A BLESSING FROM THE LORD ABOVE KEEPING US ALL SAFE THAT WEEKEND.