Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sand, Water, Sand, Water, Crab, Crab, Crab!

 Traditions are interesting things. Some are developed over many years, while others come from random acts that are later on very difficult to pinpoint. I cannot remember many details of the first time one of my youth groups began yelling "sand, water, sand water, crab, crab, crab" (To save time and typing errors, this will henceforth be shortened to SWSWCCC). I do know that it would remain a tradition for many years, and that it never failed to strike fear in the hearts of its intended victims! Today I will attempt to give you an idea of how it came to be so feared. One summer in the late 70's or early 80's my New Garden Friends youth group was camping at the Ponderosa Campground in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The Ponderosa land is now luxury condos, but back in the day it was a huge campground. It was only a short walk to the ocean, a game room, a pier and many other things we enjoyed. As you walked to the ocean, you crossed a bridge over what was known as The Swash. It was an inland waterway just the campground side of the sand dunes from the ocean. When the tide came in, The Swash would fill with ocean water, and people would play in it (My best friend Steve and I once saw a drunk man drive his car into it late one night when we were in high school!). When the tide was out, it would be almost empty, and you could see little fiddler crabs running everywhere along the banks. One night, after going for a walk on the beach, we returned to the edge of a very full Swash. It is at this point that my memory is very cloudy, but someone- I am guessing a guy, probably Dick Lee, Bruce Reynolds, Tommy or Freddie Hollowell, a Newby or Marshall Ratledge- decided one of the girls should go swimming. Fully dressed, of course! The young lady who was chosen as a victim- I am guessing Kathryn BurrisBeth Edgerton or Terri Johnson (all pictured at top) because it was always them- was not going silently. Others joined in, and the victim was grabbed by her feet and wrists, rolled in the sand, and then dipped in The Swash. This was then repeated, all the while reminding her of the crabs we (yes, we- I was part of this too) had seen there before. And finally she was tossed into The Swash. Thus the chant SWSWCCC became a means of striking fear in the hearts of our group that week.

Late one night we were once again near The Swash when the guys decided the victim would be Ling Lee. Ling was a beautiful high school girl (pictured at right) who could not have been more quiet or shy, and the guys wanted her to feel included. As the SWSWCCC chant began, an interesting thing happened. Ling wrapped herself around a nearby picnic table...and the guys could not pry her loose! They pulled and yanked, but every time they would get a leg free, she would tighten her grip. When her hands came free, she wrapped her legs so tight she could not be moved. This went on for quite some time, until, as I remember it, the guys had to give up. In any case, Ling became part of the legend that was SWSWCCC!

The Swash has been gone for years, but SWSWCCC never went away. Many groups and many victims have been part of the tradition over the years. In later years, the THREAT of the event was more prevalent than the actual performance, but the words never quit striking fear in the hearts of fully clothed youth walking down the beach- especially at night.

You may have more information on the actual events of that first SWSWCCC, or you may have your own story to tell. I would love to hear them, and I am sure others would as well. In the meantime, I encourage you to carry on the tradition with your family, your friends, and any groups you may travel with. SWSWCCC should live on- even if it's only as a threat! And if you ever get a real crab to grab a victim, PLEASE send pictures! That's one thing I never did see...

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous5/08/2011

    That is a totally awesome story! The next time I have my group at the beach, the fear of SWSWCCC will be felt again. If any crabs latch on I will let you know! - Ben Redmon, Richmond, VA

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, Ben. Take pictures of your youth in action. SWSWCCC must live on! :)


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