The relay is known to make or break a team because 1st place receives 100 points, 2nd place receives 75 points, 3rd place receives 50 points, and 4th places receives 25 points. It truly makes all the difference, we all tend to say "it all comes down to the relay". Anyway, the race starts up at the dining hall where the first camper "sleeps" and wakes up to the sound of the alarm which signals the start. They have to quickly make their bed and fold their clothes. As soon as the judge says it's okay they run the matches to the next team mate who is located the opposite end of the dining hall at the watermelon eating station. (Side note: when I say run the matches I am referring to the relay baton which is a box of matches that are taped up so that they are water proof which they use at the end of the relay for the big fire.) At the watermelon station the camper has to eat a slice of watermelon as fast as they can! When the judge says okay the runner takes the matches and hands them off to archery. The two archers on the team have to hit the target with two arrows before they can move on. The runner then passes the matches off to the maze runners who have to quickly yet carefully carry supplies through a twine maze in the trees. The maze runners then pass off the matches to the campers at the big pool. The first two campers hop into an inner tube and paddle their way across the pool where they hand off the matches to another set of campers who make the return trip. When they reach the edge of the pool one camper gets out and walks the matches to the small pool on the upper deck. The small pool team has to run around the edge of the pool two times before handing it off to the basket ball shooters. The basket ball players must make two shots each behind the line before moving on to the wheel barrows. One camper sits in the wheelbarrow while the other drives it to the horseshoes. At the horseshoe pit each camper must make one ringer each before running the matches to hockey. At the "tennis courts" the campers have to make two shots each. The hockey runner brings the matches to the homestead fire pit where younger team members make a small fire to burn through a string. Once the string burns and breaks, the next runner goes to the toilet paper wrap. Two team members take turns running around a mummified team mate to wrap them up with toilet paper. Once the toilet paper has run out, the mummified camper has to break free and run to the beach where a team of campers have to correctly put on a life jacket and launch their canoe out to the far side of the beach. The canoe team hands off the matches to the playack team mates who have to paddle back. Once they get back to the main part of the beach, the playackers hand off the matches to the team members who have to fill a bucket with sand. As soon as the judges say it's okay, the sand bucket team relays the matches to the ball field where campers must dribble a soccer ball across the field and back. The soccer player then runs the matches to the last leg of the race which is the big fire.
So the big fire, the last part of the relay, is a pretty big deal. It has been a right of passage for pathfinder campers for as long as I can remember. Once the soccer runner gives the matches to the fire building team, it's go time. The goal for the fire building team is to burn the rope until it breaks. When the rope splits apart, they have completed the relay. One person is in charge of ripping the waterproof seal off the matches while the rest of the team digs an A frame ditch and sets up the kindling. When the matches are open they stick the match under their kindling in the ditch to set it ablaze. Fire builders need to be careful not to smother the fire with too much wood or air. To build any tepee style fire, one must have a variety of sizes in wood. Considering the fire is such an important part of the relay, teams always make sure to save the best pieces of wood in all sizes for this moment. Once the tepee is at it's maximum height, the fire building team stands together, with their arms around each other, to block the wind so the fire burns directly on the rope. At this point all you can do is watch and wait until the rope splits. I can say from experience that it is one of the most satisfying moments at camp.
When all the ropes have split and the relay is officially over, the teams go back to the meeting place which used to be in front of the rec hall (R.I.P) but is now in girls homestead. The judges total up the scores and announce the winner. Every year is different so there is no true measure to know who will take the gold but what I know for certain is that competition central is always memorable.
I hope this has been helpful. The next post will cover this year's central.