Lessons Learned From the Mother of all Storms

Labor Day Weekend I went camping in the Boundary Waters with my son and 5 of his friends. We had an overnight boat and motor permit for Saganaga Lake and had a great campsite. Teacher that I am I never miss an opportunity to teach kids something.  One of my favorite lessons to teach is how important it is to keep an organized and clean camp.

I didn’t have to teach this lesson in Spanish as I would have had I pursued an occupation with my college degree, in fact I didn’t have to teach it at all. Thanks to Mother Nature the kids learned first hand why they should keep things neat and tidy while camping.

All day long the kids had been enjoying time around camp. T-shirts were hanging in trees, the food pack open, towels strewn about the rocks, tackle boxes laid open,  matches out by the fire pit, a headlamp sitting on the ground and various other items were arranged haphazardly about the campsite. As the only Mom in the group and not wanting to sound like a drill Sargeant I only told them a million times to pick up their stuff.  But if a Mom speaks in the woods it’s the same as if she speaks at home, her words fall on deaf ears.

It was early evening when I noticed some clouds and what looked like rain in the distance.  Half of the kids had eaten their dinner the other half decided to wait until they returned from fishing. With a stern warning to come back immediately if they saw lightning they headed out leaving their food out behind.

It wasn’t long before they returned and just minutes afterward the deluge started.  They ran to one tent while I sought refuge in the other.  I’ve never experienced a storm like that while camping in the Boundary Waters.  The wind threatened to lift me and the tent off of the ground and blew so hard I thought I was in a tornado. Lightning flashed all around and the thunder sounded like lightning struck every tree in our campsite multiple times. Rain came down sideways and pelted the tent so hard I wondered if it was hailing.  It was an intense hour of prayers.

The lesson about keeping the campsite neat was learned not only that night but also the next day when the kids were forced to go through all of their soggy belongings.  Ruined headlamps, wet tackle, clothing blown away and soggy food and matches were the only props needed for the lesson.  I did wrap up the lesson with one test question.  “How would this experience be different if we were camped a two days paddle away from civilization?”

Of course we had plenty of food, matches and remaining dry gear and it was very easy for us to take care of all of the wet gear. We packed it into garbage bags and rubber maids, hauled it into the boat, took it to the outfitter and hung it all up to dry.  We were lucky and they were lucky to be able to learn their lesson taught by Mother Nature in the great outdoors.

When I got home I checked the weather records and found the temperature dropped ten degrees, wind gusts recorded on land were up to 40 miles per hour and over a half of an inch of rain fell in an hour.

Camping in the BWCA

BWCA Campsite

BWCA Campsite

Camping in the Boundary Waters

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  • Still getting cold at night on the Gunflint Trail. 21 degrees for a low. At least there aren't any bugs yet.

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