Know The Drill

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Life drill!!!!"

All the counselors on the beach exchanged sulking glances at each other, until one by one, eight of us had our socks and shoes off and the other 6 had stripped down to swim suits.

Once a week we'd run the drill......what to do if a child went missing in the lake. And once a week, we all dreaded the monotony of filing through the water, finding nothing but irritated frogs and sticky algae.

While the 6 counselors in swim suits dove into the deeper water and began combing back and forth, I locked arms with the rest of the group and we began zig-zagging through the dark and shallow lake front, till we were waist-deep in the water.

Back and forth.....back and forth......

We'd then clamber out of the water when the whistle blew, happy to be walking on warm sand again instead of slimy silt, and perhaps still grumbling over the seemingly pointless drill.

Two weeks later, I was laughing alongside the other counselors, while our campers were swimming, when the lifeguard's whistles began blowing and we looked up to see three of them dashing up the dock, screaming at us to get in the water:

"Missing camper! Missing camper!!"

We frantically began stripping, while the rest of the campers were pulled out of the lake and started flooding back to their counselors. Panicked, I began counting my group of kids..... 1.... 2.... 3.... 4.... 5... 6....7....8........ Was it one of my campers?? The thought of that possibility hit as hard as it was nauseating.

I kept losing count as they swarmed around on the beach, half scared, half giddy, and it only made my heart pound louder as the lifeguards yelled, "Just get in the water! Get in the water!!" We knew the drill. We lined up, locked arms, and quickly began combing the water. This time around, we didn't even notice the squishy mud or the brown-green water.....all we could do was hope and dread that our next step into the dark lake would find us the missing child.

However, by the time we'd finished our area, we'd found nothing, so we turned to stagger back onto the beach, when we heard the lifeguard's whistle blow and turned to see two swimming counselors lifting a large sand-filled manikin out of the water.

At first all I could think was, "Are you kidding me??"

A bit irritated, we pulled our socks and shoes back on until the head lifeguard came up the beach and our kids ran off to play nearby. She sat the counselors down and spoke, "Had that been a real kid, they would've died 15 seconds later, had you not found them when you did."


We sat there kinda dumbfounded, but we had definitely learned our lesson. The weeks of drills and wading through the swampy water suddenly became worth it, and we realized it wasn't a pointless checklist drill designed only to make counselors work their hardest for that measly $7.50 an hour.

It was to keep us prepared. Sometimes, things in life seem unnecessary, monotonous, or even stupid. "Just in case" seems over-rated, and "safety first" sounds like your mother reminding you to wear your seatbelt in front of your high school friends.

But there is something to be said about "better safe than sorry."

Whether it be emotional, physical, or spiritual safety.....why walk the edge?? My Mom would always tell me, "Better a fence at the top of the cliff, than an ambulance at the bottom." Well....she was right. Don't put yourself or others in danger by ignoring chances to be prepared and to stay safe.

Set standards for yourself. Practice standing up for your beliefs and defending those who can't. Resist temptation. Avoid bad influences. Listen to others' advice and counsel that's meant to protect and guide you. Know where you stand, and stand firm to what you know.

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).  

Know the drill.

at the lake.....

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