Q&A with Ian Bracken: The Boys Ranch Flotilla Competition


 Ian Bracken, Boys Ranch Recreation Coordinator

Each home at the Boys Ranch participated in a raft-building competition on Friday, July 12. Youth from the Ranch worked in teams, by home unit, and had one month to prepare their design and collect materials for the build. Ian Bracken, recreation coordinator at the Ranch, came up with the idea, dubbing it a flotilla competition. “Flotilla” is from the Spanish language, meaning small “flota” or fleet of ships. We interviewed Ian to find out more about this fun event.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to have the flotilla competition?
A: The Ranch has so many great opportunities for boys to be creative and live/work with the natural environment and I felt that we needed to take advantage of these things a bit more than we had been. Honestly I think up or find activities and I decide whether or not I would have fun doing them. If I think I would then I give it a try with the boys.

Q: What inspired the idea?
A: When I was a kid I lived near water for a good bit of my childhood. I was always building things to float in the water either for my toys to float on or myself. I have always had the engineer type of mind so I love building and fixing things and I thought that some of our boys must have the same passion for it as I do.

Q: What were the rules for the competition?
A: The boys were given about a month to collect materials from around the Ranch or community to build their rafts. No motorized propulsion equipment was allowed, and no factory-built boating items were allowed. All of the items had to be salvaged or hand-made by the boys. Each team had up to three hours to build the rafts. After the rafts were completed, each team had to get eight boys across the water. The teams were timed and the fastest time won.

Q: Did the activity outcome meet your goals/expectations?
A: It did. We got to see the units coming together as a team to attempt to complete the pond-crossing successfully. We got some good laughs out of the sinking rafts. And we all had a good time utilizing the Ranch’s beautiful Slator Pond to do something other than fish.

Q: Which home unit won?
A: Slator North won the event this year with a time of 4 minutes and 13 seconds. They used a frame from an old chain link fence gate, 4 - 55gallon drums, and a piece of plywood for the top. They rowed with shovels and a couple of homemade paddles that one of the boys made in Ag class. All eight of the boys on the team crossed the pond in one trip.

Below is a photo of the winning team!

Slator North Team

We have a photo gallery of the Flotilla Competition on our Facebook page. Click here to view it.

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