The Craven And The Crag Chapter Three
A new me faced week #3 at Pinecrest. Already I had overcome two fears; horseback riding, and lake monsters. I’d had a lesson in thinking for myself, learned the value of excellence, and now I was rewarded by being in Douglas Fir, a cabin near the bottom of the hill and having charismatic artist Marsha as counselor!
It was Sunday night Campfire, time to choose our class for the week. Full of courage, I joined the huge crowd surrounding the Horsemanship table, and put my name in the box. I noticed Wendy was watching me, but I didn’t care; with so many people, it was highly unlikely they were going to draw my name. Then I did something even more daring; I chose Swimming for backup. Though I’d had many lessons over the past two years, I was one of those who just couldn’t learn. Maybe in this magical environment, I could finally break through – plus it helped a lot that Marsha was the instructor.
“Raven!” Marsha poked me with her elbow. “Your name’s been called!”
Startled out of my daydream, I asked, “Called for what?”
“Horsemanship class! Aren’t you lucky! This is your first attempt – and you made it!”
I was horrified. There was no way I could ride some huge, bucking beast like they did in the Friday rodeo! I walked up to the crowd around Frank and quietly asked him to give my slot to someone else.
“What’s the matter, you’re scared?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he told me.
“Still – I’d rather not.”
He gave me a disappointed look, then drew another name out of the box and read it. An ecstatic girl bounced to the front. Heaving a huge sigh of relief, I returned to my seat. So much for courage…
Monday morning, I got into my black one-piece bathing suit and entered the swimming pool. It turned out Marsha was our swimming coach as well. I looked around at the other kids, saw Wendy among them, and groaned.
First, Marsha had us hang on to the edge of the swimming pool, practicing kicks. Then she handed us boards and told us to kick our way across the pool. “Wow – you’re a natural,” she told me. “Have you had swimming lessons before?”
“Yes, but I couldn’t learn,” I answered.
“You should have no problem this time,” she said. “You’re doing better than everyone here already”.
“Yeah, why are you in this class?” sneered Wendy.”
“Why are you here? Horsemanship wouldn’t take you?” I snapped back.”
“Now, girls, we’re all here to learn,” Marsha told us. “Let’s keep a Christlike attitude, OK?”
The next day, when it came time to do the Front Crawl stroke, that’s where I tanked.
“You were doing so well – what happened?” Marsha was puzzled.
“This is the part I didn’t get,” I told her.
“I don’t know – I just can’t float.”
“Let’s see you try, face down.” I did, for several seconds. “That looks good,” she said.
“Yeah, but I can’t breathe that way.”
“Try floating on your back, then.”
I lay in the water, arching my back the way I’d been taught. The water came up to my chin and encircled my face. Tiny waves splashed towards my nose, making me panic. I stood up after floating only a few seconds.
“You seemed to do fine there,” said Marsha. “Try again, but this time, float a little longer.”
Still coughing, I said, “I – I don’t really want to.”
“Why not?” asked Wendy. “Are you afraid of water? You’ll float better if you’re relaxed. It naturally holds you up, so drowning’s not that easy.”
The whole class looked at her, incredulous. Apparently, they were as stunned as I was; for once, Wendy wasn’t speaking with her usual sneer. She was actually being sympathetic!
“W – what makes you say that?” stammered Marsha.
“I used to be afraid of water, until someone shoved me into the deep end of a pool.”
“That’s just awful!” Marsha exclaimed. “When did this happen?”
“A couple months ago. Actually, I think it was a good thing. Obviously, I didn’t drown. I figured out how to dog paddle, and made it to the edge.”
“I still think that’s terrible,” Marsha told her. “Many people have been traumatized for life because of that sort of thing.”
“If that had happened to me, I would have drowned,” I added. “I’m not afraid of water; after all, I got in the pool. I just don’t float well, that’s all.”
“Really, it’s not that bad. I’m going to go to 6 feet. Watch!” Pulling herself to the middle of the pool, she went under, and stuck her hand up. “It’s not that deep, see?” she said, coming back up. “Come over here and try what I did.”
“No, I don’t want to,” I answered, still stunned at her change in attitude.
“Why not? Nothing’s going to happen. You can stay close to the edge, if you want.”
“What good would that do me? I can’t breathe through my hand,” I answered. The class laughed.
Marsha said, “I’m very pleased to see you finally showing a Christlike attitude, Wendy. Perhaps now, you’ll tell Raven why you hogged the bottom bunk the first week?”
How had she known about that? It was true we were still cabin mates, and I still had the top bunk, but apparently, Cathy, our previous counselor, had told Marsha about the incident. However, I no longer minded; I had found I enjoyed sleeping up high.
Wendy blushed. “Sure. Sorry I was so mean to you that first day. Actually, I’m afraid of heights.”
I couldn’t resist. “Maybe you can overcome that by being boosted up in a rocket?” We all laughed, including Wendy.
“We all have our strengths and weaknesses,” Marsha told me. “Pray about this, and if you keep trying, eventually you’ll learn to swim.”
Long story short, I didn’t learn to swim that summer. That didn’t happen until I was almost 35. Like most people who have trouble learning, I thought it was because I didn’t float well but everybody floats; if you don’t believe me, try standing with your feet flat on the floor when you’re in really deep water (it’s difficult to do even in 5 feet).
My problem was with my breathing; rather than doing it through the mouth, which one is supposed to do, I would swallow the air. I practiced breathing by running or cycling as hard as I could, until I was gasping for breath, then I’d stop and pay close attention to how I was breathing (for gasping is breathing through the mouth, right?). After that, when I got back in the pool, I picked it right up. Now, it’s what I do best. I can swim a mile and a half without getting tired.
* * *
Sunday, it was time to pack up and go. Dad picked us up late morning. As we travelled down Hwy 50, we told him about our adventures.
“What class did you take?” he asked me.
“I took Art and Swimming,” I told him
“You took Swimming? Did you finally learn?” he asked eagerly.
“No, ‘cause I still can’t float. However, there was this mean girl in my class who suddenly turned nice and tried to help me. My whole time there, she kept picking on me, because I was afraid of everything, then all of a sudden, she turned nice.”
“Usually, kids like that are afraid of everything themselves,” Dad told me. “She probably picked on you so others wouldn’t see how scared she was.”
“What class did you take?” he asked Jacob.
“I took Mountaineering,” he answered.
“You did?” I gasped. “A girl in my cabin took it, and she said it was awful!”
“I loved it! It’s the greatest! We got to camp in Desolation Valley, and drink out of Lake of the Woods. We even climbed Pyramid Peak. Bob Furnish is the greatest; he knows all about Mountaineering.”
“Bob Furnish? Susie said he was a tyrant! He forced her to go down a cliff!”
“You mean rappelling? She complained about that? It was the easy part! If she freaked out about that, she has a serious problem! I tell you, you have not experienced Pinecrest until you’ve taken Mountaineering!”
Jacob continued to rave about Mountaineering during the whole 4 hour trip home. I was thoroughly confounded about the huge difference between his and Susie’s story.
To find out Jacob's experience taking Mountaineering, please visit this link:
© 2013 Yoleen Lucas