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Annual Underwater Treasure Hunt
August 20, 2016

We prepare as much as we can for an event like this, but there are always some things out of your control. Just a week prior to this year's Treasure Hunt, we had significant amounts of rain. At one point in time, KY3 was predicting that West Plains would get 10 inches before all was said and done. (For those of you who don't know, if the ground is saturated, an inch of rain in West Plains has the potential to raise the lake up to a FOOT!)

Ten inches? I didn't even want to consider that Sand Island could be swamped by a 10 foot lake rise and not be available for our event not to mention what that water level would mean for the marina's parking lot. Although our rainfall totals did not amount to anywhere near that amount, we continued to watch the weather.

We continued to worry when the forecast for Saturday was for a cold front to come through, bringing wind, rain, and colder temperatures. We considered our options and made a Plan B. and a Plan C just in case. By mid-week we decided that, "The show must go on!"

Saturday dawned overcast and humid. A storm system had added more rain overnight, but the cold front had not arrived as planned. We forged ahead. John Weber placed the caution tape and buoys defining the contest area. Homer Thompson and Tommy French got the tent and tables set up and began shuttling divers. Becky Cunningham began registering people while Bob Cunningham began taking pictures.

Most everyone knows by now that they MUST provide a C-card for this contest. My favorite thing is when someone with gray hair at their temples proudly shows their Certification Card, circa 1975. The sooner you learn to dive, the longer you can do it!

Registration continued with several impromptu volunteers being called into service. Thank you for lending a hand! The theme for this year's Treasure Hunt Aqua Trek. Like Star Trek. Keith Holowell arrived with what I think are the coolest dive tokens we have ever used! Thanks Keith!

As Denise and Homer tried to gather divers for the pre-dive briefing, nervous participants kept eyeballing John Weber and his bubbles in the contest area. They thought someone was out there getting their cans! No worriesJohn was hiding them, not hoarding them. A little crisis was when we discovered that, unlike previous years, not all the Mountain Dew cans were sinking. Dan rounded up all the "floaters" and performed a quick science experiment at the marina to determine the heaviest soda can. Mountain Dew Pitch Black was the winner. He renumbered cans and returned them to the contest area.

Homer Thompson once again served as "Master of Ceremonies" with his trusty sidekick, Tommy French. Homer welcomed the divers and gave a standard briefing defining the contest area, rules, safety procedures, and recall signal. Divers were limited to 3 cans per person, or one token and 2 cans. Divers were told to return the special Star Trek tokens as soon as they found them. Tokens were worth a special table of prizes. That table had 10 prizes ranging from a ScubaPro Regulator, $50 gift certificate from Whispering Woods Cabins and Grill, a Dive Bag, etc all the way down to a towel. It was first come, first served, with divers being able to select their own prize.

Some divers did not "move in" during the briefing and could not hear all the rules being shouted from the top of Big Blue. Dan attempted to get the word out from his position on the water. Advice for next year: it helps if you know what you're looking for and the contest rules.

At the ceremonial sounding of the conch, the diving began!

Thomas Dunn was the first one to return a token. He was soon followed by Lauren Howell and Mike Niehaus. Chad Couch was huffing and puffing so hard when he turned his in that he chose to take several minutes and rest before going back in the water. Good call Chad!

Matt Vowel took only 7 minutes to find his 3 cans (although he took about a half hour to actually turn them in) but boy, did he find good ones. Matt ended up going home with not one, not two, but THREE wetsuits. What are the odds of that?!! His Dad's can was worth a BC! I'd say, it was definitely worth showing up for that family.

Our State Senator, Missy Irvin participated in the contest with her husband and two of her kids. She was a little low on sleep after a LONG drive back from dropping her oldest two children off at college in Florida, but she was determined to be at the Treasure Hunt!

Lest we forget "why" we do the Treasure Huntthis year's Guest of Honor was Peeka Traver. Peeka's family runs ScubaDoo Dive Shop in Mountain Home, AR. Peeka is a former patient at St. Jude. Her father, Patten Traver dove during the contest with his other daughter, Joia. Patten spoke briefly after the contest about what a wonderful organization St. Jude is, and what a help it is to the families with children fighting cancer.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, soda, and treats were available on Big Blue during the contest. You missed out if you didn't try the Smores! They were the size of a BRICK and were only $1.00! Money raised through food sales was donated to Norfork School's Gifted and Talented Program.

Overall, we had 65 divers registered for the 2016 Annual Underwater Treasure Hunt, which I thought was good considering the weather forecast. All tokens and all cans except one were found (a small miracle considering the floaters!) The undiscovered can prize was auctioned off. The winning bid of $100 was added to our donation to St. Jude, as was the $70 contributed by people wanting the Star Trek tokens.

Every participating diver found at least one can except for 7 unlucky divers. Those divers were offered their choice of a small prize from the ‘consolation box' thus ensuring that, in addition to a really cool event t-shirt, everyone went home with something.

I have created a public album at Shutterfly Share Site. You can find it at:

Please check out our 2016 Donor List. Make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their support of this event.

Thank you to everyone who participated! The tentative date for next year's Treasure Hunt is Saturday, August 19th, 2017.