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Worst Camping Trip Ever

November 12, 2014


Rodney, could you be the second leader for a campout this weekend?

Sure. My boys are looking forward to it.

There’s just one problem.


They’re forecasting rain.

Trust me that’s not a problem.

It rained. . .hard.

At the time I drove a Chevy Suburban. We drove up into the foothills above Pleasant Grove. We were camping for a single night. The format is simple; drive in, build a fire in the middle of the dirt road, pitch tents and pack it up in the morning.

The boys were 10 years old. Adam needed a campout before his birthday which was coming up in a few days to complete the requirements for his Arrow of Light award. Tony, the Webelos leader was worried the rain would ruin the campout.

The rain let up for dinner. But, started up just as we were headed to bed. And it rained. . .a lot. I grew up in Seattle where we were used to camping in the rain. You learn a few things. One of them is not to put your tent in a depression.

They boys hadn’t learned that. They woke up in the morning to three inches of water in their tent. Their sleeping bags were soaked.. They were soaked. The towel that Adam’s mother had insisted he bring was soaked. Fortunately it was a mild summer rain. They were wet, but not otherwise hurt at all.

Tony felt terrible. He was sure the camping trip was ruined.

Tony had not been camping with boys as much as I had.

The trip wasn’t ruined. It was great.

Today is the launch of one of the most important projects I’ve worked on at my new company. We are launching our newest call center. We launched another call center two months ago in Virginia. Months of planning go into a launch like this. There are dozens of stakeholders, hundreds of tasks to track and thousands of hours. If you do it right. . .if you prepare perfectly, there are still any number of things that can go wrong.

At our Virginia launch we were about two hours past our first call. I was talking to Jake, the desktop engineer when the lights blinked. Jake stopped mid sentence.

Is that the generators I hear kicking on?

Yeah, I’m going to go check the data center.

I’ll go check the call floor.

A lightening strike had knocked our power offline. The generators had kicked on and it appeared we didn’t miss a beat. As I walked onto the call floor the overhead lights were dark. They weren’t on backup power. Our agents, who were already nervous because it was their first day taking calls after a month of training, were all on calls. The phones and computers hadn’t been affected at all.

Fast forward to yesterday. The same group of people are gathered here in Kentucky for our latest launch. We had dinner last night. We told stories of previous launches. We talked about possible things that could happen today.

Well, let’s hope we don’t get hit by lightening.

And we all laughed. Of the thousands of things that went into the Virginia launch it was the things that went wrong that we remembered. And it united us. Just like it did my boys.

After the flooded tent campout, we moved across town and my boys joined a different scout troop. However, a couple years later we ended up all headed to the same scout camp. This time instead of 10 year old Webelos they were mature 13 year old Tenderfoot scouts.

Remember that campout up by the G?

Yeah, the one were it rained?

And Adam’s mom made him bring a towel?

Yeah, I think it might have helped.

Ha, ha.

And that’s the point. Just like my call center launch, what the boys remembered were not the things that went right, but the things that went wrong that were the lasting memories. Those boys are now even bigger 15 year old Star and Life scouts working toward their Eagle Scout awards. They still talk about that campout.

I’m not suggesting that you attempt to sabotage your projects so that you can build memories. But when you have done all your planning and preparation, don’t sweat it when it rains or lighting strikes. It might just be the most memorable part of the entire event.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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  1. Great scout story!! I’m also from Seattle and did camping in Seattle and on Kauai as a Boy Scout. I still remember backpacking in the Cascades in pouring down rain. Thanks for posting!

    • My pleasure, Kevin.

      If you can learn to love camping in the Cascades, you can camp anywhere.

      • Totally agree with that! What is a little rain? I took my Girl Scout troop out in August and it poured. It was our first camping trip and they still talk about it like it was days of rain and adventure. Ah, memories….

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