June 20, 2023
Today, I want to share some musing on the Glob (also often called the Blob, though I like to avoid any comparison to the cheesy 1950’s movie).
But first, a history lesson.
One of the challenges for military aircraft is deciding how big to make a fuel tank (do not worry, I promise I will get to the point soon). A smaller tank is useful if you want a faster and more agile plane. But a larger tank allows for more range.
The answer? Mid-air refueling. Here is a photo.
I have seen these photos, but I never asked myself a simple question, “how is the fuel stored in the larger plane that provides the fuel?” I guess I assume it was just a large fuel tank.
Nope, it is large bladders that ride in the planes like the one pictured here. [Note: this is the story I have been told. There is some chance the fuel bladders remained on the ground. But hey, you do not read this blog for historical precision!]
After the Vietnam War, an inventive camp director had an inspiration - if a fuel bladder can have liquid inside and air outside, why not reverse this by filling it with air and placing it on the water?
The Glob was born.
Here at camp, it has a special role. It is a great example of a “reasonable risk”. As I will explain in more detail later, Reasonable Risks are one of the “4 R’s” of camp, along with Respect, Responsibility, and Reaching out.
What makes it really useful is that jumping onto the Glob is a little scary. But it is a fear that most campers overcome. (Full disclosure - I was really unsure the first time I did it as a 27 year-old).
Once a camper is on the Glob, another camper of roughly the same weight will jump on one end and send the first camper off the side.
Yeah, it starts a little scary and ends a lot fun.
As a camp director, I love having small challenges that help campers build their bravery muscles. Overcoming a worry or a fear is a skill that campers can practice and develop. When a worried camper decides to make that jump, we celebrate it profusely. If they decide not to, we celebrate the effort (while never embarrasing the camper).
One of my favorite youth development experts like to tell young people that “when you are a little nervous, something interesting is happening”. He wants to help kiddos see opportunities rather than problems.
So do I.
Just yesterday, one of our more anxious 8-year-olds took the plunge. She is a returning camper that did not jump last year. But this year she decided to give it a try. She was thrilled!
And she walks around camp today just a little taller, a little braver.
It is amazing what a combination of a fuel bladder, encouraging counselors and adventurous kiddos can accomplish.