In the summer of 2018, I went to Capernwray Harbour Bible School for a weekend summer camp. My cabin buddies and I had just finished another game of soccer when we heard the air horn blow. We all knew what it meant: we needed to go to the next organized event for the day. The games that we played were team-building activities. The purpose was to: build trust, improve communication, encourage problem solving and cooperation. This meant that we would sometimes be nudged or even pushed outside of our comfort zones.
We all walked into the forest where the event was located. In a clearing of the trees we could see it: the dreaded Screamer. The Screamer was a massive 40ft tall concrete telephone pole with metal rungs leading to a trapeze dangling 6ft out from the top of the tower. I was petrified. Even though I knew this crazy contraption had to be safe, I still had this question burning inside of me, "What if I fall?" You could almost feel the tension as we sat down on the benches and waited to see who was going to go first.
After one of the camp leaders explained the safety rules, he chose what he called a 'test dummy'. Guess who the dummy was: yours truly! I tentatively walked up to the tower and got strapped in. After being double and triple checked, it was just me and the tower. I started my ascent, pacing myself, as not to get too tired before I reached the top. My hands were so sweaty that I found it difficult to keep my grip on the rungs. As I slowly made my assent, I could feel the slightest breeze and smell the saltiness of the ocean air. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached the top.
Now was the most difficult part of the challenge, to maneuver to the other side of the pole and somehow get into a standing position on top of the 12" disk. This proved to be even more difficult than I thought. Not only was the diameter of the pole very small, it also swayed back and forth in the wind. Somehow, I actually managed to put one foot up, then the other. Then slowly, I straightened my legs. I could feel my heart pumping as I took my first look down. There was everyone, safely on the ground staring up at me. With the extra added pressure, I took a deep breath, and jumped…. Success!
There was a big cheer from everyone down below. I felt so accomplished. It was then that I had a sudden realization: how do I get down? Apparently, all I had to do was let go of the bar so I could be safely lowered. Surprisingly, this was rather difficult and it took me what felt like an eternity to convince myself to 'drop'. Looking back on that day, not only did I learn to trust in others to keep me safe, I also learned that I can push through my fears and persevere in seemingly dangerous situations.