August 08, 2014 - 11:42 AM
ENDERBY - It was a night girl guide Jorja Van Winkle will never forget.
One, because of the fierce storm that shook her tent and evacuated her fellow guiders, and two, because of the strangers who came to their rescue.
Van Winkle, 12, from Chilliwack, was on a bus heading back to the Enderby SOAR (Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous) home base after a day trip to Kelowna when the rain started to pour.
“I have never experienced anything like that storm,” Van Winkle says. “One of our leaders got a call from core staff saying we weren’t allowed back at the camp because the other girls had all been evacuated.”
Fortunately, a warm, dry haven wasn’t far from the girls in Enderby. They took cover in the arena, on site where they were camping in Riverside Park and waited for the storm to pass.
Van Winkle and the bus-full of guiders on the other hand, had some time to kill before returning. They spent two hours at McDonalds, filling their bellies and hiding out from the rain. Then they went to Walmart to buy sleeping bags and tents for the girls whose camps had been ruined in the strong winds and torrential downpour. Finally, at 9 p.m. they arrived in Enderby.
“When we got there, one of our tents had blown back so all my stuff was soaking wet,” Van Winkle says.
She hung her stuff up outside and tried to get some sleep. Most of the guiders returned to their tents, though some spent the night in the arena. Around 1 a.m. Van Winkle was woken by fierce winds and more rain.
“Our tent was blowing about so much I thought it would break. My friend and I were really scared but eventually we went back to sleep,” she says.
Needless to say, the items she hung up never dried. But Van Winkle didn’t have to spend the rest of her trip soaking wet.
“In the morning we were told that people had come at midnight, folks from Enderby and Armstrong. All those people had come to ask if we needed any help,” Van Winkle says. “They offered to take girls into their homes, others offered to dry our stuff for us.”
That morning, Van Winkle and the other girls packed their things and sent them off with strangers who generously offered to take them home and dry them. While the girl guides had their own medical centre, store, weather station and more, what they didn't have was driers.
“When we went to the arena to pick up my clothes, I checked them to make sure they were all mine. When I got to my purple sweater I found a pin, an Enderby curling club pin. Whoever the person who gave the pin is, thank you so much. I will always remember that,” Van Winkle says.
The soon-to-be level four Pathfinder has been girl guiding since she was five, but this was her first SOAR event. She says the highlight was making friends from across the country, and the globe, and adds while it was her first time attending, it certainly won’t be her last.
“And to those of you who lined up at our gate at midnight, thank you with all my heart. I am so thankful for your generosity and kindness, as is everyone else. You made this SOAR a truly memorable event and touched our hearts,” Van Winkle says. "It was pretty inspiring."
Environment Canada says 16.4 mm of rain fell July 23 (beating the previous record of 6mm in 1992) with more coming after midnight.
Heavy rain hit SOAR headquarters July 23.
Image Credit: SOAR
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014