Octogenerian sets record at Camp Butter and Egg

Published 11:00 pm Monday, September 30, 2013

At age 85, Lawrence Bowden is zipping right along. Literally.

On Sunday afternoon, Bowden etched his name in the Camp Butter and Egg Book of Records as the oldest person to zip line at the Troy facility.

“Once they pried my fingers loose from the stand and pushed me off, there was nothing to it,” Bowden said, with a smile. “I have a fear of heights and that first zip line stand was real high. It was not easy for me to step off. But it was an enjoyable experience when I got underway.”

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Bowden was attending a church picnic at Camp Butter and Egg and took advantage of the opportunity to do something he had never done before.

“I’d heard people talk about the zip line and what an experience it was,” he said. “I wanted to experience it for myself.”

Bowden said watching 5-year-old Wes Bundy hop up on the stand and take off was encouraging.

“On the first zip line, I was trying to get my bearings,” he said. “On the second line, you go through the woods and that was probably the best of the three zip lines. Going over the pond was ‘interesting.’ If I went two or three times, I would be more relaxed and would enjoy it more.”

If the zip line took the zip out of Bowden, it didn’t show.

A cheering section welcomed him at the “finish” line.

He entertained the crowd with an anecdote that, perhaps, had personal relevance.

“Paratroopers always yell, ‘Geronimo!’ when they jump out of airplanes,” he said. “The reason is that Geronimo means ‘Who in the heck pushed me?’”

Bowden laughingly said he might not have had enough zip in him except for the “encouragement” he got from his “blind side.”

Even years of military training of going down ropes had not adequately prepared Bowden for the zip line.

“In the Army, we trained by physically holding on to ropes without all that gear to hold you on,” he said. “If you let go, you’d fall in the mud or water. The zip line was so fast I didn’t get to enjoy myself to the fullest.”

Bowden said he’s not giving much thought to being a record holder.

“To be truthful, although I’m not as physically fit as I was 100 years ago, my age doesn’t often deter me from doing what I want to do,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be able to do what I do. I’m sure there are a lot of people older than I am that need to go out to Butter and Egg and take a run at it.”