Travel Journal- Storm Mountain Work Trip

posted Sep 5, 2017, 7:43 PM by Melissa Navratil
by Pastor Gary Walpole (with an assist from Becky Walpole)

Sunday, July 30

11:20 am
Seven of us jumped in two cars to begin the long trip to Storm Mountain Center in the South Dakota Black Hills. Spirits are high and snacks are plentiful, electronic devices are fully charged and turned on with entertainment and games. I gave the crew some interesting things to read along the way about the native peoples of the Midwest.

statue entitled "Dignity"
6:10 pm
We stopped at the Interstate 90 rest area overlooking the Missouri River at Chamberlain, South Dakota to stretch our legs and enjoy the view. New for this trip is a 50 foot statue of a Native American woman wearing a shawl entitled Dignity. Awesome! After the rest area, we all ate supper at Pizza Hut in Chamberlain. We decide their stuffed crust pizza wasn’t all that delicious.

9:30 pm
We arrived at Storm Mountain in the dark just in time to move into our rooms, get settled in and go to bed.

Monday, July 31
Breakfast at 8 am. Storm Mountain is beautiful in the daylight! Our first work project is along the road into Storm Mountain clearing small pine trees, which grow like weeds here. Each of us worked individually to pull them out. They are very stubborn and do not want to leave the ground. After lunch, we discovered that working in pairs, one using a shovel and another pulling meant we could get twice as many cleared with half the effort in the same amount of time. Team work!

The guys tried to convince me they saw a rattle snake. They were very convincing. While pulling trees, the group began sharing tricky riddles. Fred and George were on the floor surrounded by water and glass. How did they die? Who can go through the green glass door? Matthew, our Storm Mountain supervisor, took us on a hike to the for-real gold mine along the creek. After supper Scott Jensen, director of Storm Mountain, shared his own riddle game with us. He did finally tell us how it’s done. But I’m not telling. Scott will be retiring at the end of August.

After supper, we played games and went to bed.

lowering the cross with ropes
Tuesday, August 1
After a delicious breakfast  (the camp food is really good) we began to tackle THE BIG PROJECT for the week. A church had donated a LARGE metal cross to the camp and it needed to be repainted. It is on a hill with a really steep slope. Scott and Matt thought we should use ladders to paint the cross. I vetoed that plan because I did not think it was safe. The team huddled, shared ideas and came up with a great plan;  use ropes to lower the cross and paint it. It took some doing but we got it to work. What a team! We got it down, scraped it and got the first coat of paint on it before lunch. Great job!

After lunch, we headed to Badlands National Park. It was HOT, when we got out of the cars. We were hot and paint-y. We hiked for a while and had supper in the shade. We saw antelope and prairie dogs, but the best time was playing “Hey, cow!”

I’m really tired, good night.

painting the cross

Wednesday, August 2
Today was much cooler. We got the second coat of paint on and the cross is looking really good. We finished with our work by 11 am so we were able to play games and relax. After lunch, we shared the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. We went into Keystone for a treat and headed to Custer State Park to find the buffalo, or maybe they’re called bison. Our search was successful. They were right next to the car by the side of the road! I was so excited and scared I forgot to take any pictures.

We stopped at a picnic area by a stream. It was gorgeous. Dinner was a picnic of hot dogs, fresh fruit and veggies. We played catch, frisbee and just ran around. We got back in time to play games before going to bed. I hope we all sleep well tonight.

the painted cross is back in place
Thursday, August 3
Time to put the cross back up. I had some concerns that we would be able to do it, but it went as smooth as silk. “Team work makes the dream work,” as our team motto goes. It felt like a great accomplishment. Scott allowed us to paint a Peace sign on the back of it and we left our mark. After lunch a few of us went into Rapid City to a water park and the more adventurous hiked Storm Mountain.

Midafternoon we headed to Crazy Horse Monument. We saw some seriously awesome Native American hoop dancers. The temp reached the mid-60s.  A big difference from our time in the Badlands!

We went back into Keystone and had pizza for supper.  What a treat! We headed back to Storm Mountain in time to play a few games and begin packing up to leave in the morning.

Friday, August 4
We had breakfast at 8 am and were in the cars by 8:40 ready to hit the road. Grateful good byes were said to Matthew and Scott and the rest of the Storm Mountain staff. It was a long ride back but we were all glad to be home again.

“Team work makes the dream work!” Thanks to team members Summer Armstrong, Quintin Longe, Ava Longe, Joe Navratil, Melissa Navratil and Becky Walpole. It was a joy and a blessing to be with you.

the Storm Mountain mission team