Raft Games

Ah, the heat of the summer. Who can complain about the heat of the summer? Who does not want to feel warm and sticky and sweaty amidst the heat of the summer? Who does not appreciate the feel of being encapsulated in a swarm of heat seeking bugs trying to suck out the cool molecules of your blood stream? Who, yes, who amongst us, does not enjoy lying in a set of moist bed sheets trying to get to sleep amidst the sucking grasping sounds of said sheets clinging to every wrinkle of your otherwise perfect body?

Not me I can tell you.

This is why I appreciate to the n’th degree the value of cottages by lakes. Not that we, personally, have a cottage by the lake. We do however, have friends who own cottages by the lake, and we have been most fortunate to have been invited to these cottages by the lake. Thank heavens for friends who are willing to invite their sweat-encrusted friends to their sanctuaries by the lake, at the great risk of infecting their lakesides with enough summer-induced sweat to form the next Niagara Sweat Falls.

I have noticed that the one common denominator of cottages by the lake is the existences of rafts floating near enough to the shore so that it would not be an encumbrance for an adult to reach in less than two seconds should a raft game go awry.

Raft games are enormous fun, if you are a raft game-enjoying adult under the age of puberty that is. Otherwise, you are an enormous over-bearing adult who worries endlessly that a raft game will end up in a near drowning head trauma that might, just might, cause a real adult lounging by the shore some angst. Us angst-ridden parents are always keeping a keen eye on the proceedings taking place on top, near or under the raft as we try to ignore all the pleas to come out and join in the raft games.

Eventually of course, an adult, usually me, will break down and venture out to participate in the raft games. If the raft does not have a ladder attached the raft, then the first raft game is a highly entertaining one (for the other adults watching on the shore) that involves a middle-aged man with a slight paunch struggling to emerge out of the water to land, seal-like, on his belly on the raft.

Then the next raft game immediately begins when a horde of young children engage in trying to push the adult off of the raft to watch him struggle back on.

But there are lots of other raft games. One involves the entire raft going party to stand on one edge of the raft thereby tipping the opposite end of the raft out of the water. The winner of this game is the person who can stay on the raft the longest before falling into the water. My favourite variant of this game is to let the kids balance on the edge first, then lightly push all of them off rendering the adult, usually me, the “king of the raft.”

Another game is “blind man’s bluff” where the person who is “it” must close their eyes and attempt to tag one of the other players. Cheating by trying to squint out of your closed eyes is absolutely not allowed and is punishable by being thrown off of the raft. A fun thing to do while the blind man is lunging around is to have all the other players quietly slip into the water leaving the blind man, usually me, looking like a total moron.

If a second adult has been foolish enough to venture out to join in the raft games, then the children will begin begging, like hungry baby birds, to play the swing game. This is where one adult grasps the players’ wrists; the other grasps the players’ ankles, and swing the player back and forth over the water, releasing the player on the count of three. It is imperative that the adults determine before hand if the release on the count of three is actually on the count of three or the swing after the count of three. Failure to synchronize can result in a near disaster that will result in a severe admonishment from the wives watching on the shore. “Don’t you hurt my child!” is what the wives say as they are sitting there sipping their margaritas.

Another game is the race under the raft. But this game usually ends after the first race. “Don’t let them swim under the raft because I can’t see them!” is what the wives say as they fetch themselves another drink.

My personal all-time favourite game is where the adult, usually me, tells the kids that there is a big bowl of chips inside the cottage with their names on it. All that is left of the children are the rooster tails trailing behind them as they swim to shore leaving me all alone to play “lying down on ones back to rest and get a suntan.”

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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