Memories of the Great American Eclipse


The Solar Eclipse of 2017 may have been over months ago but there are stories of that time that have not been told.  Here is one of them.
When Del Tinsley suggested to his wife Sandy that they open their pasture for camping during the eclipse, Sandy “…thought he had lost his mind but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.” Preparations were made—a website, Paypal, porta-potties, garbage bags, etc. Del’s friend from Florida was adept at setting up camping facilities and he came up to help with the project.
This eclipse camp turned into a fundraiser. Tinsley’s son-in-law, Paul Shankle, is in men’s ministry at Parkview Evangelical Free Church, Rapid City. Along with Mike Altstiel who is a missionary with the organization Know the Covering, a group that rescues children from sex trafficking, they and their families ran the camp and did lots of cooking. The cost of meals was by donation; camping was $100 for two nights & three days. After expenses, there was about $12,000 to put toward the rescue program. As well, when the people of Guernsey churches found out what the money was going towards, they added another $700.
The camp was an example of “if you build it, they will come.” By the time it was all over, there had been 470 people parked in that pasture high on the hill, including visitors from Israel, Canada, England, Japan and France.
With that many people, there were, of course, good stories to relate. Two couples showed up in a $250,000 Tesla with no camping gear! One couple slept in the car and the other on the ground.
Another couple had a completely self-contained sheep wagon hauled in on a flatbed.
While standing in line to check in, two former classmates met who hadn’t seen each other for 36 years. He paid her fee when she arrived with no reservation and no money.
One lady from Pie Town, New Mexico was “…so excited I couldn’t go to sleep last night!”
But the wildest scenario was Sandy and her son B.J. coming across the pasture and seeing a bare butt in the doorway of a porta-potty. While using the facility, a man had dropped his phone in the tank! Ben Lockman happened to be there pumping and with his big vacuum, he pulled the uninsured, purchased-the-day-before phone out. By this time the guy had pulled up his pants, grabbed a huge wad of toilette paper with which to hold the phone and walked off to his campsite.
When all the campers had left, Del and Sandy went out to help clean the pasture.  There was nothing to clean – “… not a scrap of paper, a can or a cigarette butt. Everything was bagged and in the stock trailer I had left just for the trash—940 pounds of garbage bagged and ready to go!” said Del. Sandy added, “They were a very humble, enjoyable, great bunch of people.”


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