Great Raft Race #3

The Great Raft Race #3 is in the books! The first race two years ago was on a raft built by 4th graders in our Science/STEM class.  We even built the oars.  This raft successfully transported 5 adults down the river, our principal and 4 teachers.


The UnTitanic, 2015. Carnegie Elementary STEM project

Never having built a raft before, I was really quite relieved when our raft stayed afloat upon entry into the Arkansa River…whew!  We finished 9 miles in about 3 1/2 hours.

The second year, we used the same raft, but designed a sail to go with it with help from Debbie at #IslandFeverSailing at Grand Lake.  The sail was super nice, but we had a hard time steering it, as our sailing skills weren’t up to par. This time our crew included two teachers and 3 parents.  This race took almost 4 hours. We were unable to keep river right, so got off course and then had to walk it IMG_5524.JPGbetween sand bars, but it was still a great time!  The nice thing is that the raft was sturdy and the sail was strong, so the students were successful yet another time!

This year was by far the quickest!  We finished in one hour and 45 minutes.  We finished 3rd and 4th place.  Had we not sat down to eat, we would have finished 2nd and 3rd, but thats ok! This year, we weren’t on a raft built by kids, we were paddle boarding along the river route.

We passed several rafts built by students. I couldn’t help but beam with pride in the fact I made have had something to do with that, as we, the students at Carnegie designed and built “The UnTitanic” as a  school STEM project two years ago. I’ve learned to never underestimate the effort and skills of young people!  This year American Airlines sponsored 10 schools and students were able to design and build their own rafts with the help of engineers coming to their schools to help in the design process. (If they had asked, I could have sent over 4th graders to help them!)

One raft was being guided down the river with a bunch of kids on it, while pulling their principal behind them on a raft!  We put our principal to work, she paddled right along with us.  Another raft had some very excited students yelling they had the best teacher and best school in Tulsa.  They were so excited they designed their boat and were floating the river.  Their enthusiasm echoed up and down the river.

There is one section that I remembered from the previous two years that had some rapids. I had commented on that part being an area I may be concerned about on a paddle board.  As we approached the rapids, we were looking for the best place to go over.  In the distance was Tulsa Fire ready for a rescue, if need be.  The rapids didn’t disappoint!

I hit several rocks and took a tumble into the water.  I was able to hang onto the board and get my self upright and back on ok, so Tulsa Fire wasn’t needed. Thank Goodness! However, the board wasn’t the same. It felt as though the fin had come loose, as I couldn’t guide it any more.  It felt like it was dragging. Maybe I should have tried to feel if it were under there and grabbed it, but I didn’t.  This little mishap caused me me to finish 4th rather than 3rd…. not that I was trying to beat my daughter, but…..ya’ know, I do have a little bit of a competitive streak in me. It’s ok, we made it safely and I hope a fin isn’t more then $20 or so.

Anyway, we had less than a mile to go, so it wasn’t too bad navigating to the end. We were coming up to the finish line where they were telling us where to exit. We made it to the dock, picked up our boards and discovered, that yes, the fin had been knocked off in the rapids.  Its ok, it could have punctured the board and it didn’t, so all is good, especially considering we burned more than 600 calories in the process!DSCN1915.JPG

After the race, we helped build a cardboard boat for racing in the lagoon area, took a peak at the amazing sand sculptures, and took a ride down the big bouncy slide.  Good times were had by all thanks to #SethErkenbeck,  race director, who successfully reincarnated the #GreatRaftRace three years ago!


About cessley

I am a bereaved parent. I write to give hope to other bereaved parents who are fresh in their grief. I want them to know life begins again. It (life) is forever changed, as are you, but one day, you will smile again. You may travel, you will make new friends, your heart will mend, though never heal and it will be a painful ride. It is one step at a time....sometimes, even one breath to the next is all we can seem to live through each day. But each day will be a new beginning, a different beginning, a different you. I have two surviving children: Amy, who is married to Brandon, and they have one daughter, Avery, and one son, Dylan. and Eric who is a doctor and is Clifton's twin brother. Clifton passed away when he was nearly two years old. As any bereaved parent knows, it is tough, REALLY tough trying to live after the death of a child. I lived in Shanghai, China for three years after the death of my son, and then lived in Beijing for two years. I am discovering life again, one step at a time. I returned to Oklahoma in February , 2020 due to the uncertainty of the virus. Little did I know the uncertainty would follow me across the ocean. This is nothing compared to the death of a child. I will survive! View all posts by cessley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: