Myself and a small group of men, women, and children hiked down a trail and set camp by a tree line, about 75 yards from a bayou. The weather was perfect, or so we thought, as we forgot to check the local forecast. We pitched our tents and without really thinking about it, we placed the rain fly over our tent, ate a great meal around the campfire and since we had a big day planned for tomorrow, we bedded down early.
About 1am, we are awakened by a thunderstorm. No problem, but by 3am, it is raining so hard and the wind is buffeting the tent. Suddenly, there is a sound we dread – the sound of rushing water and we scramble from the tent, as a wall of water goes over us and takes the tent down with the torrent of flooding water.
We are pressed against the tree line and one of our members believes the violence may have broken their leg. The only item we are able to save is a lone backpack and we await the storm to pass, in water up to our necks.
By 7am, the storm is breaking and a quick assessment of our situation shows we are about a quarter of a mile from higher ground. None of us recognize where we are now and it is a bit confusing to say the least, as hypothermia is clouding our judgment. “We can’t really be in trouble, right? I mean we were only two miles from the trailhead…” one person says through their chattering teeth.
One of the younger members of our group is inventorying the backpack and calls out what they find to each of us. “A small first aid kit with some pain meds, lip balm, 2 pill bottles with tinder inside, a butane lighter, a CD of Christmas music, compass, a reflective mirror, some food and candy, a whistle, a space blanket, 50 feet of small cord, sunscreen, a bottle of water, some water purification tablets, a box cutter”, and a couple of other items.
The group decides to give our injured member the two pain meds and using the box cutter, one of our stronger members climbs the trees and begins cutting poles to make a small raft to carry our injured member to the distant shore. This person is now in great pain and their suffering is taking a toll on all of our nerves. An argument breaks out over the seriousness of our situation. A couple of our stronger members want to go for help, but agree to help us get the raft over to the shore, build a fire, secure our injured person, and make a temporary shelter before leaving.
More arguing is caused by the revelation that the young person inventorying the backpack didn’t look in one of the pockets where a large quantity of paper and plastic sheeting was stored and the exhausted child begins to cry further stressing the group, who are now desperate to get out of the water and very cold. The two alpha personalities, who were working for the good of the group, further exacerbate the stress by arguing who should be in charge.
This particular camping trip never happened, but is a scenario handed to the group I was in at last Saturday’s Nurture Nature survival class, led by the Baytown Nature Center’s Naturalist Christina Butcher. The second group followed the misadventures of a lone hiker and their group decided what they would do if it were them.
The group I was in had very good input and I feel we all would have done very well. The stress part was my idea, as I have read many books where this behavior inevitably comes into play.
After our brain-storming session, our instructor added to what we had attempted, praising our collective thought while pointing out things we missed. She was very well informed, touching on venomous serpents, foods that grow locally, and bringing to our attention little, but important facts we missed. The group offered many great ideas and we all came away better prepared if and when that information is needed. Great big kudos to Ms. Butcher and the Baytown Nature Center for these fine programs which are always on the first Saturday of the month at 10am to noon.