Maybe my memory is failing, but I think this is the coldest Arkansas spring I have experienced. April is supposed to be the month we enjoy watching the bulbs we planted in the fall come awake. I have barely gotten a snapshot of flowers in bloom before they’ve been decimated by frost, ice and snow.
This past month I helped take two groups of Girl Scouts out to Huntsville to “camp.” Because spring is typically wet, we reserved the indoor chalet with the prospect of an outdoor campfire in the evenings while we were there.
The first weekend my co-leader and I took a group of fourth-grade girls out to the camp for the first time. I had forewarned the parents to pack warm things in bedrolls and backpacks. When we arrived, the girls were excited for their first official troop campout. Due to the unseasonable cold temperatures, we opted for an indoor campfire. As the evening progressed, we kept checking the thermostat in the chalet and it didn’t seem to be kicking on. By morning, the beautiful campground was covered in a dusting of snow. The girls were elated until they realized indoors it was so cold they could see their breath. After checking the propane tank, the pilot light wouldn’t fire up, we opted to go home earlier than we had planned. It was an experience they’ll all remember.
The following weekend, I knew the heat situation had not been addressed as we prepared to take a group of sixth-grade girls on their annual spring campout. I had studied the forecast and the weather, again it was going to be unseasonably cold. I called in a favor to a friend who has a reputable HVAC business to see about fixing the furnace at the camp chalet. Upon inspection of the unit it was determined the gas valve wasn’t working properly. It couldn’t be fixed that evening. So again, I built an indoor fire and we started working on our first project of the trip. We had not gotten too far into the project and we received a tornado alert near the camp area. We knew potential weather was predicted so we had already done a “take shelter” drill. Once we realized a rotation was spotted nearby we loaded the girls up and took shelter in the basement of another camp building. Even though they are preteens, some of them were scared. Fortunately, they are all still young enough to be easily distracted by a basement full of ping pong and foosball. The bad weather passed, and we were able to continue as planned.
The following day a group of Girl Scout alumnae taught this preteen crew about woodworking. It was amazing watching these ladies pass on their carpentry skills to a younger generation. The girls created bluebird house habitats to be placed throughout the camp. They enjoyed a campfire in the evening as we celebrated their accomplishments for the year. The temperature had dropped significantly, and we set up several space heaters for the evening. Thankfully, the girls had worked hard all day and were tired. As we packed up on our final day, snowflakes started flurrying out of the sky. It was another memorable trip.
Arkansas is one of the few states I’ve ever lived in where its citizens can experience three seasons in one single day. April has brought frost, ice and snow. I’m certainly looking forward to the May flowers, neighbor.