The Perfect Storm
Each night, a harmony of chirping crickets and croaking frogs put us to sleep. Each morning, we were greeted by the sounds of chipmunks playing and the melodies of chickadees. However, the fourth morning was different. The birds were silenced and the chipmunks were dormant. We continued our routine without observing the clandestine warning of the animals.
Our campsite was in a sheltered bay. No one noticed how violently the wind was gusting until it was too late. We took down the campsite and set off for the day. The violent wind took effect as soon as we were in the middle of the lake. We were out of the shelter of the bay and in open water. The wrath of Mother Nature captured us. Our canoes were hurled nearly a mile off course. Our strokes pushed the canoe forwards, but the overpowering force of the wind drove us back. “Keep paddling. We are almost there. Just A little bit farther,” we said in desperation. We canoed six hours longer than intended and were in danger of more than exhaustion.
A storm was brewing and we needed to get off the water. Storm clouds towered over the campsite. We set up camp and prepared for the looming downpour. The weather report was anything but reassuring. The storm was to last for days. We had no other choice than to call for an emergency evacuation.
I was on a canoe trip in northern Minnesota. It was part of a three week leadership program at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin. We were vulnerable as individuals. Our only option was to bond together and work as a team. The worst possible chain of events occurred, but through perseverance and optimism, we were able to turn the disastrous circumstances into a positive learning experience. It should have been the worst canoe trip in my life, but it turned into the most memorable six days of my life.
Every summer since that trip, I have returned to the camp as a counselor. As a counselor, it is my job to be a mentor and a leader. It is rewarding to have such a large impact in the lives of children. The camp affects more than just the kids. I gain from the experience as much as the campers. Being a counselor reinforced my leadership skills and helped me to become a more rounded individual.
I will probably never go on another six day canoe trip, but I will revisit the lessons I learned from that summer for the rest of my life. I am ready stick my paddle into wind and face the challenges that college brings.