I Shot An Arrow Into The Air And…
There was only time for only 2 trials after we’d arrived, unpacked and gotten ready for the last part of the day. I was delighted with my cabinites. One of the kids even started cleaning the cabin without being asked. I began to think this was going to be a breeze.
Then we were given our activities groups and most of my kids were traded away for a variety of other kids, including 4 girls.
Girls? The Oldest scowled at them like they were alien beings determined to steal his soul (though, in later life, he would come to realize they actually were exactly that.)
It was about as easy as any task could be. Hello! We were, ah, right in the middle of a forest. We could just stand by the counsellor and point, “oh look, there’s a Douglas fir’, but no. For some reason, no.
As soon as the counsellor said ‘go!” the kids all shot off into the forest like officer workers at a staff partying trying to avoid getting stuck with the tip. The counsellor had told everyone had to stay within eye sight of her, but that lasted about 2 minutes before all but a handful of kids were simply gone.
I want to say I was all cool about it. I want to say I shrugged and was like the Buddha in an opium den. But this was my first trial and my first time as chaperone, so I did what any newbie would do, I tried to create order from chaos.
It took me all of 30 seconds to figure out three things.
1) I cannot create order from chaos no matter how loud I get.
2) I can bellow pretty loud. Who knew?
3) I quickly learned who I had to bellow at (and who I would be bellowing at for 3 days.)
However, I think I became that old guy that everyone hates.
“Hey, you young whippersnappers, get back here this instant!” “Dagnabbit, boy, stop licking sap off of that there tree!” “God in heaven, stop you’re leaping on slippery rocks, you’ll hurt…oh hell, are you ok?”
Then I realized what we really needed was a sheepdog. Maybe 2. Or a net.
But it all ended well. Somehow in a forest filled with trees, the group managed to find the odd tree on the list, one kid even carting back a log half his size to show the horrified counsellor a mushroom he’d found growing on it. More importantly, I succeeded in keeping to my only rule – No one dies (though there were a few epic falls on slippery surfaces.)
Then we were off to archery. With this one, safety was everything! The counsellor explained what the rules were… stand behind the line, notch the arrow behind the line, don’t turn around with the bow notched, don’t try to shoot your friends… you know, classic Robin Hood stuff.
For that one, I watched them like a cat watches a dog, my hackles up, my ears back. I had to bellow three times when someone turned around with an arrow notched so they could talk to their friends. I would have thought the counsellor would take care of that, but I guess it’s hard to see everyone all the time.
However, the last thing I wanted to have to explain to a parent was that their child was shot with an arrow. Me: “So, yeah, it’s like the latest fashion, a big stick through the ear. Like an earring.”
“Wait, isn’t an earring supposed to be through the ear, not IN it?”
Me: “Like I said, the latest fashion. The bleeding will stop in a bit, I’m told.”
“But he’s not moving.”
Me: “That’s normal. He’s tired. He just needs to rest. Now I have to go. If you need to get in touch with me, my name’s Sean Sommerville.”
Anyway, 4 kids shot at at time, aiming for a target about 20 feet away. Maybe 30. Most couldn’t get the arrow to travel far enough. Sadly, the few arrows that did would hit the target and fall to the ground. The arrows themselves barely had a point (for a good reason, me thinks) and most of the kids just didn’t have the arm strength to properly draw a bow. The best shooter turned out to be a girl, going all Hunger Games on her targets.
It was really quite impressive.
I even got a chance to shoot. Luckily no one had to bellow at me to keep the bow pointed towards the target, but I hadn’t shot a bow since I was 12 (when my brother and I would shoot arrows in our backyard. Ah the 70’s. Fun times.)
I was super keen to show them how it was done, though. I punched arrow after arrow into the target, but hit the bullseye only once. No one cheered. In fact, I don’t think anyone even watched me. They were all too busy talking to each other as if they thought I wasn’t the center of the universe.
However, more importantly, no one died. Oh sure we lost a good dozen arrows, we nearly broke a fence by having 12 kids try to sit on it at once and I’m pretty sure the counsellor needed therapy afterwards, but not a single one had an arrow sticking out of them.
I was a chaperone god! 2 for 2.
What could possibly go wrong with 70 kids eating food that was easily throwable?