Lessons learned on JOLI

For this week’s blog post, I wanted to post an essay written by Adin K, who  was a JOLI participant during our our inaugural JOLI program in the 2011 season.

Based on the success of last years four week program, we have decided to run two four week sessions of JOLI this upcoming summer.  Both sessions are nearly full, so if you are hoping to join us this summer, please register ASAP.  At the moment, we still have room for boys and girls in session I of JOLI and for one male and two females in session II of JOLI

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By Adin K. (JOLI 2011)

We were flushed out of our tarp! High in the Garden of the Gods, a Colorado state park, we had set up tarp for the night. While it was the end of a bright, clear day of hiking, clouds loomed overhead as the sun set. The ground was relatively flat, rather dry, but gravelly. After dinner and evening activities, we were settling down in our tarps; the boys in one, the girls in another. As we tried to sleep, the rain became heavier and more deafening, until the drumming on the tarp was a roaring cacophony. Suddenly, even under the tarp, we could feel the spray from the deluge on our faces and feet. Matt, my counselor, forever a hero, climbed out of the tarp in only a t-shirt and briefs, trying to lower the ropes that held our tarp. Tying knots in the dark and freezing rain, he brought it closer to the ground for more coverage. At that point, I heard a shout. “What the heck is that?!” Matt yelled, panicked. The lot of us looked out from under the tarp, expecting to see a bear, cougar, bobcat, or anything large and scary. Two inches of water were steadily creeping towards us.

Frenzied, all of us grabbed our boots and began dragging a ditch with the heels, desperately trying to direct the water around the tarp. Matt, sacrificing himself again,   leaped out of the tarp, now completely soaked, grabbed two of our plastic bowls and began shoveling. He snapped one cleanly in half. Lying at the edge of the tarp, still in my sleeping bag, I was holding my sleeping pad off the ground to avoid swimming in a puddle. No way to rescue the tarp. We gave up on a dry night, grabbed all our gear, and sprinted into the van.

I looked out the van’s back window, and saw the girls’ tarp. The girls were still in their tarp, and what’s more, still asleep! They were not woken by either the howling wind or our frantic screams, and had not been even remotely wet by the rain. I was envious, and at this point, realized our vital mistake. While the area in which we set our tarp was flat, it was the lowest relative point in the area. Essentially, we had placed our tarp in a drainage ditch. Us versus the elements; we lost by a clear margin!

That night in the Garden was terrifying, yet exhilarating. I had experienced bad weather other nights camping, but had never had to ditch the tarp during the night. Being at the nearly complete mercy of the elements was frightening, but it taught me to plan ahead. Setting up tarp, I should have noticed the erosion marks on the ground from all the water draining in one direction. This unplanned lesson taught me to be flexible and anticipate sudden changes.

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