It Turns Out I Was Ballast

I wrote recently about trying something you aren’t good at. That was an important component of my youth~and my adult life, too. When I was in junior high I went to sleep away camp two different summers. I went to the same camp both times. Each time it was for a week. anyway, one of the activities there was canoeing. They would pair us up when we arrived at the canoe station. I was very short, and they always put me in the front. I always did great at the canoeing activity. We would steer on through and make it back fine.

MANY years later, my husband and I went camping with our then 6 year old son. My husband had never camped. Except for our back yard, neither had our son. we borrowed a friend’s tent–and they taught us how to set up the tent. No problem—and that went off without a hitch. the campground was beside a lazy, slow-moving river. At the camp office they had an ad up for a 3 hour canoe trip. We signed up. They drove us to the canoe station where we got our canoes and life jackets. tThey explained that the river was low and asked if we needed instruction. No, I said. I will show them what to do.

We were off. Our son in the middle, my husband in the back, me in the front. The river was low, the boulders and the tree stumps numerous. We veered from bank to bank. I could not figure out how to steer or what we were doing wrong. Before i knew it—we capsized. My husband and son panicked. Stand up! I shouted. It was waist deep. I put our son back in the canoe. I steadied the canoe and my husband climbed in. I climbed in.

We continued our veering…until I could see that the river split. We needed to get to the left to make our way back to the canoing station. The current picked up and we were heading to the main channel. I could not get us steered to the left. I bailed out….and walked us back to the canoe man. The water was only chest deep…and I could swim us back if necessary. We had life jackets, we could float, we could climb up the embankment if need be.

What had happened to my expertise?? Guess what? Whoever they partnered me with each time (when I was at camp) did all the steering. Any paddling that I was earnestly doing in the front of the canoe was completely irrelevant. Yup! I was just ballast all those years ago….The only problem was—on this canoe trip all those years later, we were ALL ballast! However, I DID know what to do in an emergency. Although the conditions did not qualify as Β an emergency, I could tell that I needed to do something….

Being able to think, and swim, and know that I could get us there if I had to drag us there told me that I DID learn something at camp. I learned to navigate tricky waters. Sometimes, handling things means climbing out of the boat and steering the group home. My husband helped keep all our things in the boat and we both kept our son as calm as could be.Our son was scared! We got back, he staggered back up onto the beach vowing to never set foot in a boat again.

I couldn’t have that—so a few days later we went canoeing again. This time my son had to paddle a canoe with his buddy’s big sister in it. she told him what to do and had him navigate a lake….When he did that he got over his fear. And so it goes in life. We get through a situation. Then we try to learn how to handle what we couldn’t handle. The next time, we have confidence. And when we face a brand new situation, if need be we improvise, don’t we?

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
This entry was posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to It Turns Out I Was Ballast

  1. Great story! So glad you had the life jackets! It’s just safer. One whack with the corner of a canoe, and the best ol’ swimmer can need a rescue, right?
    I agree with your keeping on keeping on policy, but with Internet, it takes me so long to learn, that once I get it right, they have changed it. And I find myself in water WAY over my head. πŸ˜€

    • Kate Kresse says:

      me too, Kathy! And when I get a little behind in my reading, or figuring things out, I am soon WAY behind—and have a lengthy list of things to do or learn~ and heading for the rapids in a hurry!! You are up late tonite πŸ™‚

      • I was sad. Hubby took me out. Drank iced tea. Can’t sleep. My bad.
        Oh, but, we went to a Mexican restaurant and they had (surprise!) live music, a great guy who sang what he called “150%-American-music-don’t-call-immigration-please”. It was a joke, I am sure. Then he proceeded to sing “Let it Be” by England’s own. Ha! But we requested “Guantanamera” and he could do that one with his eyes closed. A fairly good musician and comedian who got serious once asked to play his own music. Then he switched to “La Bamba” mixed with “Twist and Shout”. Had everyone laughing when one silly waiter tried to do the twist for us all. Need I say I was lots better when we left there?

        You’re up late, too, by the way! Or is it early over there, yet? I have 12:37 . . .

        • Kate Kresse says:

          would you believe I fell asleep at my computer? My husband woke me up and sent me to bed! I am glad you had some laughs last night. It sounds like fun; trying to imagine La Bamba mixed with Twist and Shout :-). When it isn’t daylight savings time I am two hours earlier than you. We are always on Mountain Standard Time.

          • Earlier, oh intrepid one? I stay confused about geography. πŸ˜€
            I have fallen asleep with my nice, warm laptop on my lap, it’s gentle whirr like a lullaby . . . and found about five pages of one letter typed: kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk . . . etc. πŸ˜‰ At least it was the most important letter, eh?

            • Kate Kresse says:

              LOL!!! when i was doing the freelance job i kept falling asleep typing and i’d awaken to see I had typed for instance (i was researching an article about luggage in this example)..Samsonite lugpan which are fissure airplane and simple lugglock travel efficent and space chuckle….
              and yeah—until you are on daylight savings time (i assume you are currently on Eastern Standard Time, right?)–when it is 10AM at your house it is 8AM here. Come DST, we are 3 hours behind you because we never go on daylight savings time in AZ.

  2. Caddo Veil says:

    It’s not in reference to boating, but some days I feel like your 6-year old son–I vow I’m never doing “that” again. Most of the time, though, I can now add the word “maybe” to my vow. Hey, I have to celebrate any progress I make! Thanks for another good post, Kate–God bless you Big!!

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I know!! It is so hard sometimes to determine when I come out with one of those ‘never again’ statements whether i am giving up too soon or being incredibly wise! Thanks Caddo—God bless you big, too!

      • Caddo Veil says:

        Oh, I’m so glad you added that!! I was beginning to view you as some super-positive, always-intrepid, impossibly superior being. I mean, I know that you’re very positive, upbeat–a wonderful role model–but I was gonna have to quit because I couldn’t measure up to you in the “happy-skippy, can-do” event, camper sis!!

  3. TBM says:

    You know I’ve never been canoeing. This story has inspired me and I’ve learned to take a lesson. I’m so happy to hear that you got your son back out there. That shows courage on all ends.

  4. I agree, great story. It reminds me of a line from a Clint Eastwood movie called Heartbreak Ridge: “You Adapt, you improvise, you overcome.” Now I just have to go back and read your post, imagining Clint’s gravelly voice. πŸ™‚ Or maybe not… Well done!

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Oh gosh–I LOVE Clint Eastwood. I loved him in Gran Torino, which I thought spoke volumes. So many of his movies speak volumes to me, as a matter of fact, Andrew!

  5. Keep on keeping on!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Nice story. I’m sure your son will remember it always.

  7. Great story Kate, thanks so much for sharing.

    Is the computer not a sleep aide? LOL My husband thinks so as he finds me asleep in front of almost every other night. I say, Hey, at least we’re sleeping, right?

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Amen!! sleep is sleep no matter how it happens!! It is interesting to see what i type when i am asleep. Maybe i should copy and paste that stuff into a word document and then upload it as a separate post! that would be very silly to see.

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