This is an old story that I wrote for one of my English assignments, and used a shorter version of in speech class. This is a true story:

9 in a Canoe

The idea had started that morning. I was an assistant counselor at a Christian camp, and it was the second week in the high school program. I am a quiet person, and fairly shy.  My co-counselor and cabin leader Jon, however, was not. It was only a few days into the week, and already Jon had us doing some wild and crazy things. I guess I should have seen it coming.

That morning we had just finished our devotionals, and, needing something to do, Jon had suggested that we try to fit our entire cabin onto a swing. Jon and I had seven campers in our cabin, which when you count us makes a total of nine people. Needless to say, we couldn’t fit all of us onto one swing, though we tried valiantly. But it was then that someone had came up with a brilliant idea for our afternoon cabin activity: we should try and get all nine of us inside one canoe, and then go out onto the lake. The day couldn’t go fast enough after that.

Late that afternoon, cabin activity time finally came. We rushed down to the boat house, put on our life jackets, and brought the canoe down to the water.

While we were doing that, another guy cabin came down, grabbed life jackets, and went swimming out to an old sunken dock. It was awesome to watch them charge down the dock and into the pond.

But that wasn’t nearly as awesome as what we were about to do. We got the canoe partially into the water, and then all of us crammed in. Jon and a camper were manning the paddles, and the rest of us sat or knelt where ever we could manage. It was tight, awkward, and uncomfortable, but we didn’t care. This was epic, and nothing would stop us. We pushed off from the shore.

Already it looked like this venture might be doomed to failure. Our combined weight was so great that the rim of the aluminum canoe was only a few inches above water. The slightest movement would rock the canoe and water would splash in. But we kept moving, waving and hollering as we passed two girl cabins swimming at the dock.

Once we got out onto the open water, we realized that there was an additional hazard. Some girl counselors were giving rides to their campers on the camp power boat, and large waves were tossed up by the motor. Some of my campers and I protested this additional challenge. Jon, however, was confident that we could ride out these dangers and not be swamped. So, we continued on our voyage, and the swells of water splashing over the side failed to sink us. We were making good time, and we soon approached the other guy cabin that was standing on the old sunken dock. We shouted as we passed them and they shouted back.

And then it happened. Nearly halfway out on Richmond Pond, the canoe rocked just a bit too much, and the water poured in. Our aluminum craft sank beneath the waves, and we swam out from it, laughing and hollering. The canoe was in no danger, as it was light enough to float, so we swam around for a few minutes, enjoying the buoyancy of our life vests.

We noticed that the bottom of the capsized canoe was sticking out of the water, so we ducked underneath it and popped our heads up inside. The greenish pond water reflected off the metallic interior in a rippling lightshow, and our exhilarated voices were amplified painfully loud.

Then we decided to attack the cabin swimming by the sunken dock. We struck out in their direction, and they met us in a counter-attack.

A mock battle ensued, with all of us splashing and yelling in the middle of the lake, while the canoe just sat there halfway underwater. We managed to take a hostage, and started swimming back to our canoe, though the other cabin battled fiercely.

Adding to this confusion, the power boat was circling us, tossing up waves and pretending to chase us down. A beach ball from the boat was being tossed about as well. The whole scene was one of mayhem and absurdity, and it was spectacular.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with this adventure. As we started to push the canoe back to shore, the power boat driver informed us that all the campers had to go to back to camp on the boat. As they all sped to shore, Jon and I swam the canoe to the beach, and put it back on the racks.

That evening we went to dinner elated and victorious. Our cabin had pulled off the best cabin activity of the entire summer.

But for me, our adventure was more than just an awesome cabin activity. It was a life lesson. You need to do something wild and crazy once in a while. You need to be creative and a risk-taker. You need to live life to the fullest and hold nothing back. You may look foolish, but you have taken a step off the sidelines and into the arena of life.

It was an important lesson, and one that was put to the test the next week, in what was undoubtedly the best week of my entire summer. But that is another story.