Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sail Fail

At supper tonight we were telling stories, and you know how one story makes you think of another that makes you think of another? Well, that happened to me tonight, and I thought of something I haven't thought of in a long time.

After my freshman year in college, I worked at a summer camp for the summer. A recruiter had come to our campus ministry and they needed counselors for this camp where kids got to horseback ride, learn to sail, play on water slides and water parks, canoe, and the list goes on and on. I thought that sounded like fun, so I signed up and my adventure began.

The counselors arrived about 10 days before the campers, and we were trained in that time so we could teach the campers. Now, horses have never been my thing - I'm pretty much scared to death of them. They just seem so unpredictable and you're supposed to be controlling them, but I never felt empowered enough to control this huge beast that was carrying me for crying out loud! By the very nature of that arrangement, it would seem the horse was in control, and that was true for pretty much every horse I rode. So, I knew this was not going to be my favorite activity, but I'm a pretty good actress so I figured I could fake it. It turned out that they had "wranglers" who would teach the actual lessons about horseback riding, and we were just there for encouragement and crowd control. I learned to fake it pretty well, and horseback riding turned out to be not so bad.

On the other hand, I was really looking forward to the sailing part. I have always loved the water, and sailing just sounded so adventurous and exotic. Remember, I'm from Lubbock, Texas - we don't have a lot of water around there. And so I eagerly went to the sailboat training, envisioning gliding across the smooth water with the wind in my hair. I dutifully learned all the proper terms like port and starboard and jib and boom, and happily took to the water for my first try. There was no gliding, there wasn't even any puttering. I would have been thrilled to just drift with the wind, but my boat pretty much went no where. I watched as the other people would glide happily past me, their hair blowing in the breeze, laughing joyfully, and I would try mightily to position my sails in the exact same position as theirs so I could glide happily too. But, alas, there was never any gliding. I figured it would just take a few tries and I would be a pro at this, not to worry.

The first group of campers came, and when it as sailing day, we all went to the sailboats and each of the counselors had about 6 campers that they would take with them on their sailboat. Can I just say there is no pressure like 6 eight year old girls staring at you, waiting to happily glide across the water and you are just sitting, going no where? Looking back, I blame it on the wind. I'm from west Texas, and here you don't have to lick your finger and hold it in the air to know which direction the wind is blowing. It is blowing in the direction that nearly knocks you over. But in east Texas there didn't seem to be any wind, and yet the blasted other counselors would manage to find the minuscule breeze, turn their sails in just the right position and their sails would fill and they would glide quickly across the water, their laughter mocking me as they went past our stagnant boat.

A few lucky times, I managed to catch a breeze, and we would go sailing smoothly across the water. But I could never enjoy these times because I knew what was going to happen. We would run out of lake, I would be forced to turn, and the fun would come to a grinding halt. It was miserable. My campers would look at me expectantly at first, then later with sheer disappointment. They would listen to my feeble explanations of there being no wind and then say accusingly, "But look at Stacey's boat! They're sailing." Damn that Stacey! Couldn't she just fake it for me? But noooo, she had to glide happily across the water, rubbing it into my sorry face that I was a sailing failure. I remember one time the boom actually caught a gust of wind, came flying across the boat, narrowly missed knocking one of the girls clean in the water, but hit me square in the knee, causing it to gush with blood. I was actually thankful for the injury because then the girls felt sorry for me and didn't make me feel so bad that we weren't going anywhere.

Eventually I learned that I was just never going to get the hang of sailing and would try my best to get sailing as my "off" period. I would bribe the other counselors with whatever was necessary if they wouldn't make me go to my place of shame. If I had to go, I would do my best to try to make it fun in other ways, such as suggesting we all jump in the water and then try to climb back on the boat, pretending a shark was about to eat us all. For some reason this was never as appealing as gliding smoothly over the water. I guess there are some things just not meant for land lubbers.

Thank you for letting me share my shortcomings with you. My name is Alayna, and I am a sailing failure.


  1. Alayna!! I love your blogs!! so great! You should follow me..I just set one up..I'm no expert like you, but I aspire to be like you someday in the blogging world! I set it up for my new adventures I'm about to embark on!

  2. I am just now getting caught on my blogs and I have to say yours is at the top of my list! Love it!

  3. You are so funny, and you tell a great story. It seems you also have an abundance of them to tell! I see you are from Lubbock; do you happen to know a couple named Matt and Ami Mitchell? Just curious. I know that's probably a long shot, but he's a pastor, too. And sometimes the world ends up being a really small place. :)