We are back from Canada, but with the triple digit temperatures in the Coeur d'Alene area I kind of wish I was still there.
Of all the things that could have happened or gone wrong when taking 100 high school aged kids out of the country and then throwing them all onto crowded houseboats beached on a lake in the wilderness... It went pretty well.
I had 15 kids on my boat. Six of them were (are) involved with the worship team, one of the big reasons that I was a leader on their boat. Few of them were friends, but they got to know and tolerate each other fairly well.
A lot happened during the week, enough for me to keep you up all night reading. Some I'll save for later, and some will just be verbal anecdotes for those of you who speak to me on occasion. There is one single event that stands out above all others. It is, as a captain from one of the other boats called it, a classic camp story.
Lake Koocanusa is nestled in the Canadian Rockies. While it's southern most tip is in Montana, the majority of the lake, including the beach we camped on, is in British Columbia. The lake is also a reservoir, one that is slowly being drained. That draining was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good: we gained about ten feet of beach over the course of five days. Bad: it created some rip tide like currents.
I gained first hand knowledge of the strength of those currents Tuesday when we took our boat out from the beach and let our kids swim for a while. We had a small group; four guys, one girl, myself and Big John (the other leader on my boat). We got out to the middle of the lake, Big John shut off the engine so the kids could swim and we chilled for a while, listening to an interesting mix of Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffet.
A couple of the boys were jumping off of the top deck, a fun thing that was not allowed while beached (it would be breaking the camp's only rule: don't be an idiot). There was also a water slide attached to the boat, and for some strange reason, I felt that riding the slide would be safer than jumping from the second story deck. Silly me. Shortly after hitting the water I realized hey, these currents are rather strong. If it had just been strong currents, I probably could have overcome it, except for one unfortunate fact. It was a windy day. Worse, the wind and currents were going in opposite directions.
Once in the water, I was about ten feet away from the boat and no matter how hard I tried, that's where I stayed. The current was pulling me south, and the wind was blowing the boat north. Thankfully I wasn't losing ground but I wasn't gaining any either. It was like a treadmill... for swimmers. One of the kids jumped in and tried to help, but then we were both stuck in the current.
Finally, Big John told the three remaining passengers to throw me a rope. One kid (the worship band's techie) threw a rope. The whole rope. The kid is smart when it comes to Power Point presentations and running the sound board, but not to bright when it comes to more important matters like saving some one's life.
Initially, I was excited for the rope, swam over and started tugging on it. Seconds later I discovered that it was not attached to anything. The people on the boat didn't realize the failed rescue attempt until after I yelled "A lot of good this does me!"
Finally the two of us in the water were pulled in with a life ring. And I learned a valuable lesson: never trust the sound tech with your life, he might accidentally try to kill you.
However, he did put in a bit of practice with the life ring the next day, throwing it out to a bunch of girls who didn't like cold water. He then began calling himself David Hasselhoff... despite being shorter, chubbier, significantly younger, and bearing no resemblance of any kind to Mr. Hasselhoff.
P.S., if you click on the link for David Hasselhoff, be prepared, it's kind of frightening.