During a “Saturday Night Fever” themed cookout and dinner to celebrate the last night at camp for the last session of campers a lodge pole pine tree was struck by lightning. A camper flung open the door to the dining hall in a torrent of rain and announced the that, “a tree is on fire!” In our tight disco wear the counselors sprung into action.
We yanked two chain saws to life as the top of the tree raged in fire 60 feet above our heads. The decision was to cut down the tree and allow it to fall in the open meadow nearby then douse it with water thus saving the forest and the camp at the same time.
With full ferocity of the engine we were cutting the fall wedge with the first chainsaw. It ran 6 inches into the burning tree, dulled and became bound. The second chainsaw was slashed in to cut it out. In the frenzy, it too was ran to its limit and soon sat slack, dull, smoking and useless. The tree continued to burn and with only a small wedge just begun, it continued to stand.
As we toiled over the technology that was letting us down a wild I idea was thrown out. “What about that old fashioned saw?” a camper asked. The “old fashioned” cross cut saw sat decoratively above the doorway in the dining hall. It was a bygone hand tool from a bygone time and was now our only option. A counselor was sent for it. His leather fringe disco vest and afro wig of a bygone fashion bounced and waved as he ran.
We took shifts heaving the cross-cut saw in turn as one would tire out. The swaying hips, the bobbing heads of those on the saw in their disco outfits looked similar to the dance moves that were being practiced during the day to prepare for the Saturday Night Fever Dance later that night. It is hilarious to imagine now only nobody was laughing then. The tree was still standing and still burning. Suddenly a “pop” and then anther, and in unison shouts of caution turned to cheers as the tree began to fall safely, thunderously and magnificently toward the meadow. In a fiery swhoosh it landed and a line of campers holding pots of water stretch from the tree to the kitchen sink in the dining hall providing an endless flow of water.
When it was over we stood staring in amazement. The forest was saved, we worked together flawlessly and efficiently without a single designated leader but rather a collective intelligence that made decisions in an instant and, most importantly, in impeccable disco fashion. The dance could go on.