Can I have Some Lumbar Support with that Sandwich?

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Jambo Journal – Day #5, Thursday, July 29, 2010 Stormy Weather.

Yesterday’s entry: The Real Reason We’ll Never have a Co-ed Army.

There’s been a delay in these journal posts. The AT&T network keeps failing. It’s very frustrating.

It’s amazing how alive you 1269245_42697299_sun_burst_stock_xchng_royalty_freecan feel with no sleep. This doesn’t surprise me. I once wrote a novel in two weeks without taking a day off at work. I wrote it at night. I didn’t sleep. There must be something to that adrenaline stuff.

I had breakfast with the Skittles this morning. They rated yesterday’s opening ceremony between a 5 and a 7 (out of ten). They liked the paratroopers and the cannon fire (for the 1812 Overture) the best. They initially said their favorite speaker was Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former boy scout. When asked about Sargent Slaughter, they responded, “Oh, yeah. But he was just entertainment, not a serious speaker. Besides, he called us ‘maggots.’” Like the others, they universally panned Miss America with “she should speak less and sing more.”

With a day of rest yesterday, I was looking forward a full day of activities. Initially, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80’s and only a slight chance of late afternoon Thunderstorms.

The forecast was a bit off.

We had planned to begin our one-hour hike to Technology Quest before 8am. Our ASPL had already taken a group of seven up to the area to raise the flag and get a patch. They left at 5:30am. When the morning paper said the bus runs now began at 8am, we decided that might be a better option. Since we were running late for breakfast (even the efficient Patrol, sans Patrol Leader and two other members who went to the flag raising ceremony, fell behind), we figured catching the bus as late as 8:30am would get us up to Technology Quest in time for the 9:00am start.

When we got to the bus stop, the line was already 200 deep. Most of our troop decided to hoof it, despite the increasing Temperature-Humidity Index. Timewise, they made the right choice. The five of us who stayed behind (two leaders and three boys), had to wait a full hour before we boarded a bus. On the downside, we could have boarded about 15 minutes earlier if Bus 164 hadn’t unloaded boys in the middle of the line and then allowed boys from the middle of the line to load. On the upside, we landed the only air conditioned bus I’ve seen at Jamboree. Of the 1-hour wait, I’d say 30 minutes was in the direct sun. Today is not a day for standing in the direct sun.

When we arrived at Technology Quest a half-hour later at 10:00am, we heard the alert confirm our suspicions: We were now officially in the Black Zone (see Day #2 Tuesday, July 27, 2010 for a less than complete but fully understandable explanation of the THI Warning System). Technology Quest contained various exhibits, including Lego Robotics (been there, done that, went to Atlanta), a chemistry demonstration (complete with the requisite pyrotechnics and, most important, two NASA displays.

The NASA shows attracted me – and the boys we found there (only the flag ceremony boys, not the hikers, they took a detour at some waterfront activities in route) – the most. And it’s not because I am particularly fond of astronomy and space exploration (for proof, visit www.astronomytop100.com). No, the NASA demonstration had the one thing everyone craved – air conditioning.

We spent most of our time with NASA.

Then the real adventure begins.

So I’m sitting in the disabilities awareness activity center waiting for my son to complete his assignments before escorting him down to the Hometown News (HTN) Correspondent tent to file his story (it’s always better if a Scoutmaster brings the HTN Correspondent rather than a scout buddy. I’m in the shade. I just ate lunch. I’m drinking plenty. And I’m hot (we are in the Black Zone, after all). As with any good southern European stock, the sweat oozes from every pore in my body. I’m a little uncomfortable, but not abnormal so.

A kind Samaritan from Alabama offers to douse me in cold water. “Sure,” I respond stupidly, but with great enthusiasm. It feels good for a moment, but then the cotton shirt begins to act like a skin-tight sauna. Gosh, what a rookie mistake, I curse to myself. Still The Vault – a Boy Scout Museum of sorts – stands across the road. It’s fully air conditioned. I figure I’ll dry off and cool down in there.

Then it happens. A staffer from the activity center approaches me. He sees my drenched shirt (“This guy’s sweating profusely,” he must naturally think) and my red face (remember yesterday’s still-not-painful shower-born sunburn?), and, being in the black, concludes “heat exhaustion.”

“Sir, how are you feeling?”

How does he think I’m feeling? It’s hot outside. So I tell him the truth.

“Sir, would you mind coming with me?”

I follow him to the staff tent where he immediately gives me a Pepsi bottle about a third filled with water. “Drink this,” he commands. Apparently, my water must not be good enough.

Then I hear mumblings behind me. “We’re really not a medical tent.” “We don’t have the capacity for this.”

Mind you. I’m not complaining. I’m in the shade and they’re blowing a cool fan on me. I see my son moving from one activity to another and shout to him. He comes and immediately starts an excited rundown of his activities. It seems he doesn’t see anything wrong with me. That confirms my feeling and I send him back.

Moments later comes a staffer. “Sir, would you like to go to the medical tent?” Now I get worried. What are they seeing that I’m not feeling? I ask them to my son and start to get up.

“Oh, no, sir. We can’t risk you falling over. We’ll get a stretcher.”

Well, that’s enough of this, I’m thinking. “How about a wheelchair,” I counter.

“Sure.”

Moments later comes a wheel chair. So I take it and start pushing it.

“Don’t you want to get into it?”

“Not at least until we get a smoother surface like the road.”

We arrive at the road and I suggest I can just push the wheelchair down to the nearby medical tent. Again, they kindly express the concern about my hitting the ground. I reluctantly agree to hop into the wheel chair. I actually enjoy the ride.

When we enter the medical tent, a doctor immediately escorts me to an empty cot in the back.

“Have you been drinking water?”

“Yes, lots.”

“When’s the last time you ate?”

“I just had lunch.”

“How long have been in the sun?”

“To be honest, I’ve been mostly in air conditioning and the shade?” I’m beginning to understand how my red-faced sunburn has betrayed me.

“Well, how do you feel?”

Remember my lack of sleep, I answer, “I am a little tired, but I do have to visit a men’s room.”

“You can do that later. Lie down now. Take off your shirt. You know, cotton kills.”

And so I conclude I’ve now been consumed within some medical labyrinth. I call a nearby Scoutmaster to come bring my son to the HTN tent on the other side of the camp. She graciously agrees. They decide to walk the length of camp to avoid the bus lines.

Minutes later, there’s a clap of thunder – a loud very close clap of thunder. I immediate recognize the weather phenomenon. The juicy air has spawned an isolated thunderstorm. I don’t expect it to be as severe as a frontal thunderstorm, but the vicinity of the lightning strikes caused me concern about my son and the Scoutmaster walking him down the camp trail. Later, I discover they had quickly moved into a shelter and road out the storm in perfect safety.

“Safety,” on the other hand, was not a word I would attach to my situation, for the obvious soon hits me. I’m in a metal framed tent lying on a metal framed cot in the middle of a thunderstorm. Then I see something that really worried me. Above me is an electrically outlet that appears precariously assembled.

Ouch.

Then a man appears with a camera, seemingly to take a picture of me. I ask him what he’s doing. “Oh, I’m just taking a picture of the flood.” He point below me.

I’m sitting in a six inch pool of water…

…lying in a metal framed cot…

…beneath a fragile – and live – electrical outlet…

…in the middle of a very gusty thunderstorm.

Double – no, triple – no, quadruple – ouch!

After the doctor forgets I’m there, they release me and I head back to camp, which sustained the storm remarkably well. Kudos to our preparations at the Shake-Down and the fact our Scoutmaster remained in camp. After my brief and somewhat embarrassing stay in the medical tent, I relieve our Scoutmaster. He stealthily disappears in search of any available 314 and 315 patches in order to construct yet more sets to meet the unexpected demand for the Interlocking Turtle. He returns just before dinner with a victorious grin and, later that evening, disperses the sets to some of the anxious boys who had requested them.

Later that night I have shower duty. At camp, scoutmasters and Scouts must share shower duty. Basically, we have to manage how many people enter the showers so they don’t get crowded. As I come to replace the scoutmaster in the shift before me, we both see lightning in the distance. We must shut down the showers amidst the complaints of unshowered men and boys. The “we are just following orders” routine seems to work well. The rain comes with event.

They say the only thing rain brings down south is more humidity. I’d say “they” are right. As I go to bed, I can’t help but think Swedes must love this sauna-like weather.

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow’s Exciting Journal Entry: Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

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