Survivor: Melita Island

By Beacon Staff

The old cliche goes “It was a dark and stormy night…” Seems that we’re living that cliche this week. The Boy Scouts of Troop 41 are in summer camp at Melita Island on Flathead Lake and are getting quite the adventure.

Not only board sailing, small boat sailing, canoeing, kayaking and other Scout activities, but 2 rather excitement-filled evenings of severe storms over the island in the last 2 nights.

Last evening, an all boats bulletin rang out on the marine radio on Flathead Lake, prompting swift action by Melita Island Camp Director Jim Atkinson. Atkinson’s emergency call summoned 150 boys and their leaders from their campsites into the Melita Island lodge just as the brunt of a storm hit the island. The storm pelted the island, toppling trees (including a few onto tents), packing 2 tornadoes (elsewhere) and serving up 80-90 mph wind gusts.

After we gathered in the lodge, Atkinson’s staff made sure all boys and leaders were accounted for, then launched into a series of cheers and songs intended to distract and calm young minds from thoughts of mom, dad, home and of course, the storm raging outside. Later, Island Chef Rachelle Williams’ popsicles and spiced cider settled the stomachs of some still-nervous young men, all of whom spent the night in the lodge on cots wisely stashed on the island for situations like this one.

Despite having only 2 minutes notice of the approaching storm, the only casualties of the evening were a couple of tents – and a close call with a falling tree that tripped one of Troop 41’s adults as we ran to the lodge. No Scouts or adults were hurt and everyone with the exception of the camp staff got a decent night’s sleep.

As morning came, the damage to camp was less than expected, but still required some cleanup. Several trees were down, including one on the corner of a tent in our campsite. The experienced loggers and forestry folks on the staff and among the Scout leaders were gathered and sent out to either pull (with a tractor and cables) or cut down several “widow makers” scattered about the camp.

Today, the boys are back in their routine, having fun and enjoying the lake – no worse for the wear, and with great stories to brag about next week.

Cots stacked on the front porch this morning after a night in the lodge.

Above: A tent lies pinned under a tree felled by last night’s storm. When the stakes were pulled out, the tent popped right back into shape. Amazingly, nothing in the tent was damaged by the falling tree.

Paddles strewn about by last night’s winds.