Cliff Jumping

“Can we go and at least watch the cliff jumping?” Sarah asked with a shrug. “Then we can decide if it’s something we might be brave enough to try.”

“OK. Grab you towels and we will join Amy.” I said.

We found Amy standing in the midst of a circle of excited campers. She smiled at us as she saw us joining the group. “All right! Nurse Anne and her kids are gonna joins us! Awesome sauce!”

I nodded and giggled. I bent down to the kids and whispered, “I’ve never been called awesome sauce before.” They beamed.

“Follow me!” Amy waved her arm and we all followed up the hill and through the woods and brush to the north end of the island. On the way Amy pointed out the well worn path that disappeared into the woods that led to the kybo. We arrived at the cliff as we came out of a clutch of pine trees and were bathed in the warmth of the descending sun.

Amy started her safety talk. Wait for the all clear sign to jump, pencil dive, no running jump, arms at your side, swim over to the exit point. As she spoke I grabbed Patick’s hand firmly and carefully inched my way to the edge to look over. It was about a 15 foot drop into the dark blue waters below. My heart jumped up into my throat. Sarah and Megan warily inched up beside me.

“Whoaaaa!” Sarah whispered and Megan gasped. “Awesome sauce!” Sarah murmured, mimicking Amy’s earlier pronouncement.

“Awesome sauce?” I asked her. Sarah nodded. “Let’s stand here beside Amy and we will be able to watch the boys hit the water.”

Campers jostled for position in the line up. We observed as the boys took turns jumping off the cliff. It was a slow and careful process. We clapped after they bobbed to the surface, cheering, shouting and laughing. The campers then would carefully pick their way back up the side of the island and line up dripping wet and wait their turn for another go.

“I want to jump it, Mum!” Sarah grabbed my hand and looked up at me with determination.

“You do?”

Sarah nodded vigorously. “Yes. Pleeeeeeease?”

I tapped Amy on the shoulder. Amy glanced over her shoulder at me. “What’s up?”

“So…Sarah thinks she would like to jump the cliff. What are your thoughts?” I considered that I might be the worst mother ever even considering allowing her to jump.

“Sure. It’s safe. The water is super deep right here. Campers and cottagers have been jumping and diving off this cliff for years. Have her wear a lifey.” Amy pointed to a pile of life jackets, glanced over the side and gave the next camper the ‘go-ahead’ to jump.

I turned back to Sarah. “You really want to jump it?” I asked her incredulous.

“Yup,” she nodded.

“You have to wear a life jacket.” I called her bluff.

“OK.” Sarah responded and walked over to the pile of life jackets and Megan followed her.

“You too, Meg?” I asked, shocked.

Megan shrugged. “Sure. It looks fun,” she shot back nonchalantly and searched for a small jacket.

They both found jackets, shrugged them on, zipped them up and headed to the back of the line behind two other campers. My heart started to race. I grabbed Patrick, picked him up and put him on my hip. He clapped for the boys as they jumped and surfaced.

Sarah stepped up to the edge of the cliff, holding onto the shoulder straps of the life jacket and looked up at Amy. She was so tiny. What the hell was I thinking letting her do this?

“Do you know the rules, Sarah?” Amy asked her gently.

“Pencil dive and then swim out of the way.” Sarah responded.

“You got it.” Amy nodded. “OK. You can go.” Amy waved her hand.

Without hesitation Sarah stepped forward, slapped her hands to her side and stepped off the cliff. I held my breath, watched her fall and enter the water. She popped back up in seconds, buoyant with her life jacket. She squealed with delight, waved up at us and kicked her way over to the exit point. Patrick clapped and enthusiastically waved back.

Megan stepped forward and waited patiently for Amy to give the signal. I bit my lip in anticipation.

“You know the rules too, Megan?” Amy asked.

“Yup.” Megan smiled.

“OK! You can go!”

Megan stepped off the cliff and squealed the whole way down until she was swallowed up by the water. Her head quickly came to the surface and she howled with laughter. She swam over to Sarah who was treading water off to the side cheering her on. The two of them were so obviously excited. I smiled as I watched.

“Can I go, Mum?” Patrick looked at me.

“No way, Jose!” I said to him. “When you are bigger.”

“OK. Your turn now, Nurse Anne. I will hold on to Patrick.” Amy reached out her arms to take Patrick and he happily reached back towards her.

I hesitated. I had had no intention of jumping. Really not my cup of tea…but then again, when would I ever have the chance to do this again? Camp was all about trying new things, being intrepid. My two daughters had just displayed their pluckiness. Could I not follow suit?

“Embrace the adventure, Anne.” Amy said softly as she sat Patrick on her hip. My mouth gaped open. I took in a deep breath.

“Embrace the adventure…” I echoed “…but with a life jacket!” I said as I turned and grabbed a life jacket off the ground. Amy laughed.

“You are clear to go.” Amy told me as I stepped forward.

I looked down. I felt a wave of sickness and then I just stepped out. The warm air rushed past me as I screamed the whole way down. It was only a matter of seconds before my feet broke the surface of the chilly water. I was totally submerged but my head and shoulders swiftly rose to the surface. I let out a loud whoop of relief!

I looked up to see Patrick and Amy cheering for me. Sarah and Megan, sitting on the side of the cliff now, clapped loudly. I grinned, threw my head back and laughed.

We three ended up jumping another two times before Amy called out, “Dinner time!”

We grabbed our towels and wrapped ourselves up. Amy, holding Patrick’s hand, brought him over to me. “Well done, Anne.” Amy said with a sly smile, and then she whispered to me conspiratorially as we started walking back to camp bringing up the back of the group, “You’re a bit of a bad ass!”

“Who, me?” I scrutinized her as I touched my chest with my hand, confused.

“Ya, you. I can’t believe you actually jumped!” Amy snorted.

“Whaaat? You said I should ‘embrace the adventure’!” I accused her.

“I did. But I didn’t think you would actually do it. You are definitely not the typical camp nurse, Anne.” Amy smiled at me.

“Is that right?” I stopped outside our tent and held the flap open for Patrick to go inside.

“Totally. Most of them are happy to keep to themselves, sit on the deck, and read a romance novel or crochet an afghan.”

“Hm.” I responded thinking that that sounded a bit dull.

“You are da bomb diggity in my books.” Amy said as she lightly punched my arm and turned to leave.

“That’s pretty high praise, Amy.” My heart swelled. “Thank you so much.” I called after her, and she looked back over her shoulder.

“See you at dinner!”

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