Tug-of-war in camp

Pedro, left, takes on Calvin in tug-of-war game. Photo and video by David Lansing.

It’s late in the afternoon. A little too early for cocktails,  a little too late for a nap. We’re all just lazing around. Pedro is taking some photos of Calvin holding his elephant gun (Calvin tells us that each bullet for his rifle costs $40). I’m reading a scrapbook Calvin’s mother has put together about the Cottar men—Bwana Charles (his great grandfather), Mike (his father), and Bud (his great uncle). Some interesting stuff here. (From a 50’s sporting magazine story Bud Cottar wrote about his father’s death from a wounded rhino in 1940: “The lions will grunt at night, the hyenas laugh and sob, the vultures watch from on high, and the wild elephants drift on silent feet through the vast forests…but Bwana Cottar has gone away, and we will not see his like again.”)

When Pedro gets done with his photo shoot, he challenges Calvin, eight years his senior, to a sort of tug-of-war camp game. He gets a length of rope about 25- or 30-feet long and the two stand facing each other on camp stools, each having about ten feet of rope behind them. The goal is to either pull your opponent off the stool or have them run out of rope. It’s more mental than physical. The game is as much about feints and quick reactions as anything. You’re trying to figure out if your opponent is going to try and jerk you off your stool or just take little tugs at the rope trying to get you off balance. Calvin seems immediately at a disadvantage but then he starts to figure out what Pete is doing and almost topples him before losing.

Then Hardy takes on Pedro. Now, the thing is that winning this game once doesn’t give you much of an  advantage against your next opponent. You’re winded, your opponent has been watching your moves, plus, you’ve got a bit of rope burn already. So not too surprisingly, Hardy knocks off Pedro. And then takes on Fletcher, who now has the advantage of having watched the tactics of three different contestants in two matches. Fletcher easily conquers Hardy. And now takes on Calvin. Who, not too surprisingly, defeats Fletcher, knocking him back against a log so he scrapes up his leg. So now all the boys have rope burns and a couple of them have twisted an ankle or scraped a leg, and all of them are sweating and winded.

Meanwhile, I read my book and finish my cold beer.

Here’s a short video of Pedro taking on Calvin.


1 comment

  1. Jeff Wilson’s avatar

    abstaining from these antics must have generated at least a few catcalls from the alpha dogs, right dave? did hardy have to stop midway in his tussle with chris to take a piss?

Comments are now closed.