For any Connecticut folks, just how was the weather this past Saturday night? Bet you were warm and dry inside waiting for it to pass. Not this Boy Scout dad.
My first scouting weekend, in a borrowed tent, sleeping on the comfortable ground, in late October in New England. I wasn’t expecting to appreciate anything but my warm bed when the weekend was finally over.
Friday night was cold and dark in the middle of the state forest, unprotected in an open field. I was cold all night, and expecting to be cold all weekend. Saturday was warmer when I woke up, and it wasn’t raining as they predicted.Turned out the day was sunny and warm, with scouts swimming in the ocean. As I watched from the beach I began to appreciate the unexpectedly sunny and tropical day we were having, shorts and t-shirts (versus the winter coats, hats and gloves the very night before).
It was a wonderful day at the beach collecting nature items for their merit badge, followed by a unseasonable warm evening by the campfire. What a wonderful day, unlike the high winds and rain predicted.
Then like someone flicked a switch, all hell broke loose in the state forest. Gusts (I now know up to 40 mph) hit our camp along with driving rain heavy enough to drench us in seconds. Two canopies destroyed by winds, and the third lifting the picnic tables anchoring the ends. Dark, windy and driving rains – but unseasonably warm.
30 minutes after midnight – the first scout tent fell victim to the wind. Four very wet and scared scouts. I spent an eternity in the dark, driving rain holding up their tent to allow an organized transplant to other tents. Minutes after successful moves scout tents one and two collapsed and broke, unrepairable.
There was nothing we could do except ride out the storm. Drenched, dark and wind blown, I wondered why it was so warm, and how the only thing that really kept the night from being a total disaster was the warm air. If it was as cold as it was Friday night, our soaked clothes, heads and bodies would have been subjected to frost bite.
Once again I found myself thinking how appreciative I was that the scouts had such wonderful and unexpected weather all day Saturday. Yet at that point I was as wet as the scouts who took the plunge.
Sunday morning the sky was clear and the sun was out, warming everything back to unseasonably warm weather – which allowed everything to dry out again. For the fourth time in two days I found myself being appreciative. It could have rained through Monday, and all the equipment would have to be stored wet until a warm dry day – but instead we had the cold, followed by the warm sun, followed by the hurricane-like night, and back to warm sun to recover.
Without being too philosophical, I think there was a lesson or two here on our first scout trip beyond the merit badges we were working towards.