Saturday, August 15, 2015


Our job helping at summer camp often involves taking people through our Challenge Course.  It is a team building activity which also employs strategy, leadership and a few physical skills.

One of the challenges for the groups is called “Shark Island.”

Everyone is on a “sinking ship” with a dangling rope as the only escape across “shark infested waters” to the “island.”

 They have to find a way to bring the rope within reach.  Only items the players bring with them can be used to gain access.

Often the first attempts involve physical feats such as jumping reaching and pitching…

 …which almost always fail.

 Success is usually accomplished by tying something they are wearing…

 …such as scarves, belts or shoes

 …to be used to swing at the rope to bring it within reach.

 They have to develop a plan to reach their goal.

 Then they all use the rope to get to the “island.”

 Some have so much fun that they want to try it again.

 It is important to help catch those swinging to the island.

This group of clever ladies figured out quickly that they needed to use their shoes to bring the rope.

 The first few swings just missed their goal.

Another big swing and a miss.

 Then they teamed up to get more distance.


 Oh! No! The shoes got away!


Sneakers for the sharks. Good thing there were more shoes available.

 Another big swing with the new set of shoes.

 Success at last!  Grab that rope!

 Now we have it what do we do?

Whoever goes needs a way to reach high on the rope.  There are lots of skills in this group.

Steady, ready, swing!

 Everybody plays,

 Everybody wins.

 Friends encourage even the cautious to go.

 You can do it!  You can do it!

 And the whole group made it across the “shark infested waters” to safety.

The discussion which follows is about thinking through a problem, sinking, using available skills and tools, planning, helping everyone through difficulties and leaving no one behind.

LIFE WILL FIND A WAY--Michael Crichton--Jurassic Park

When we made plans this year to help at a summer camp, I purposefully decided to plant no seeds in my garden plot so there would be nothing to care for while we were away. 

Except for the roses, most of my garden area is filled with perennial native plants which only need to be weeded, watered and thinned.  So, except for the combat with bindweed and grasses, it is pretty low maintenance.

It was a surprise, therefore, to find squash and tomato plants growing away in the empty place where my vegetables usually grow.  No one had planted them.  The tomatoes had probably volunteered from those which grew last summer in the same location and the squash must have grown from seeds which sat in the dirt a whole year before deciding to grow.

Both tomatoes and squash need a long, frost-free summer to produce so, unless we don’t get our usual cold snap in September, the vegetables won’t have time to mature.  Still it does prove how nature hates a vacuum.

We also discovered a bountiful crop of black currants waiting to be picked.  The currant bushes were a gift from a thoughtful son-in-law several years ago and this summer the bushes were loaded with fruit.

We didn’t have time or really enough of a harvest to make currant jelly so we just cleaned them (a labor intensive job which can be done while watching a video) let them dry on a cookie sheet…

…and then froze them in snack bags to be used later to flavor food like smoothies, muffins and hot breakfast cereal.