Monday, August 11, 2014

Jump? Why not?

You know what I love about races? The endorphins. No matter how nervous I get when I'm going to do a race (I've done just a handful of 5Ks in what I hesitate to call my racing career), it's the endorphins that keep me doing it. There's nothing like that feeling at the start line, the air is thick with possibility and excitement. At the finish line, it's that endorphin rush that carries you, sometimes for several days.

Up and over! Damn, that's high.
That's what happened when I did the Run or Dye color run in July. This wasn't a chipped & timed race, but it was a race—and there were obstacles. Granted those obstacles may have been in place for other races, but that didn't stop me from overcoming my fear of heights with a "Hey, why not?" So I did. And about the time I reached the top rung, mabye 15 or 20 feet off the ground, I got a little panicky. At that point I was more "What in the world was I thinking!?" But I did it. I climbed up, fear of heights be damned, climbed over and climbed down. I gave myself a little high-five on the inside. I was dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit, and I had to live up to that example—I mean, what kind of superhero would I be if I couldn't climb up and over a big thing?

And I was riding high on those endorphins when I was asked by a friend—"do you know anyone who'd like to rappel from a building?"

"Do I ever! Count me in." Then I was all like "Wait a minute! What did I sign up for?" Well, let me tell you. I agreed to rappel from a 16-story building in downtown OKC to help bring awareness to and raise money for Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma. Money raised will help the Give Storm Shelter campaign, to build a tornado shelter at Camp E-Ko-Wah, near Marlow, Oklahoma. It's a worthy cause, for sure.

These are the sort of shenanigans I will be
up to. Literally. 16 stories up. Photo
courtesy of Girl Scouts, used
with permission.
But what in the world was I thinking!? It was the late nights following my impulsive "I'll do it!" that haunted me. I'm afraid of heights... but I've gone rock climbing before, and it was a blast. This is a safe adventure, with a full-body industrial harness and handheld descender and training on how to get to the bottom in one piece. That's my kind of adventure.

Do you want to get involved? All the information can be found at the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma website. There's going to be all sorts of activities going on, including things for the kids to do. And if you happen to stop by, I'll be the one in the Wonder Woman T-shirt having the mild panic attack as I take on this adventure. It's for a great cause Girl Scouts have a long history of making a positive impact in the lives of girls.

Since I was not a Girl Scout myself, I asked some friends to give me their stories about what Girl Scouts has meant to them. Here's what my girl, Heather Davis had to say:

The weekend had finally come: I was going to be an overnight counselor at Camp Wah-Sha-She just outside of my hometown of Bartlesville. I had taken all the safety courses. I had been through all the trainings. I had been given my list of scouts—most of them first-time, overnight campers.

We played all the little games that you learn to play at camp. We sang all the little songs that you sing at camp. (It’s because of these songs that I never—NEVER—put my elbows on the table. ‘Round the table, I do not like to go!) We built a campfire. We put it out. We used our flashlight to use the latrine. Before heading to our tent, I grabbed the walkie-talkie from the camp director at headquarters.

The tents at this particular campsite each had three steps at the front that led into the wooden-floored area and three steps from the back that led into the woods. This made for some great ghost stories, and consequently some very scared campers! The sides of the tent were canvas and could be rolled up on especially warm nights or secured when the temperature dropped or the winds blew hard. On this night, we rolled them up about half-way.

My co-counselor unrolled her sleeping bag at the back entrance to the tent, and I secured my position at the front. We told some ghost stories. We calmed some fears. We played flashlight games. We yawned, and slowly, one-by-one, each scout drifted off to dream. Eventually, I did as well.

As the wind kicked up from the west, I snuggled deeper into my sleeping bag, but didn’t worry about it too much—after all, my wall was the east wall. I vaguely remember some of the girls shuffling around in their bags, snuggling deeper into their bags as the wind continued to blow through. I got up and untied the tent walls but left them loose before returning to my own sleeping bag and falling asleep.

I’m not sure exactly what woke me up. It could have been the eight girls and my co-counselor who stood above me as I sleep, some of them crying. It could have been the torrential rain that began falling. It could have been the wind that was actually howling.

Or it could have been the camp director on my walkie-talkie telling me to bring the girls to headquarters. We’d be transported to the dining hall to take shelter. We were under a tornado warning.

Very calmly, we pushed our items to the center of the tent. We made sure we each had our flashlights and our shoes one. Then, we quickly trekked to headquarters, meeting the other tents from our camp area.

The good news is this: There was no actual tornadic damage or activity at Camp Wah-Sha-She that weekend. We all survived, and the next day, true to Oklahoma weather history, we enjoyed a sunny, warm day full of canoeing, hiking and swimming.

I learned a few things on that weekend, thanks to Girl Scouts. The first is the most important and still drives my life to this day, almost thirty years later: I am a leader. I can do great things and others can and will depend on me.

The next most important thing I learned is this: I can sleep through the scared stares and tornadic winds when I’m really tired.

My sweet friends Mari and Misti will be rappelling with the Girl Scouts. If anyone can do this without peeing their pants, it would be Mari and Misti. Will I be rappelling? Nope. No. Not at all. There are not Depends big enough or absorbent enough for me to take that leap.

But, if I had to.

If push came to shove.

If there were no other option, I know for a fact that I am a leader. I can do great things. And, if there were no other choice, I could rappel off the side of a building. But only if I had to.

Thanks, Girl Scouts. You helped me to become a strong, independent woman.
I hope I see you on Saturday, August 23!

I was asked by Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma to promote Over The Edge before, during and after the event in exchange for the opportunity to rappel down a 16-story building, I agreed because (1) I like a challenge and (2) I believe in the Girl Scouts. The event belongs to them; the opinions and words here are my own because I don't sell them.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh! Are you crazy? Wait, don't answer that. I already know.

    But seriously, I'm really excited for you to do this and tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through you and never have to do anything quite so terrifying.