Monday, June 27, 2011

Ocean Shores Sandcastle Competition 2011

For years I wondered how "those" amazing sandcastles were created. How did they get them so tall? How did they carve them so intricately? My sandcastle making experience was limited to the simple child's method of filling a bucket with wet sand, dumping it out, and then seeing what resulted before the tide came in and washed it all away.

My whole perception of sandcastle building changed a year ago. A friend of ours invited us to participate in the Ocean Shores Sand and Sawdust Festival sandcastle competition. Although we knew nothing about building sandcastles, we decided last minute to join the team competing in the intermediate category and see what we could do to help. We had such an amazing time that we enthusiastically agreed to do it again this year.

Do you want to know what it takes to make a real sandcastle? Let me share the wet and grimy details with you.

First, you need a team of people who are all willing to work together. And when I say work, I mean seriously participate in manual labor together. You also need a good leader. Our good friend, Amos, was our great leader and a group of friends from church provided the willing team.

Here are a couple of the rules:
  1. Only 8 team members are allowed in the plot at a time. (We had 10, so we had to make sure that 2 were out of the plot at all times.)
  2. All of the sand used to build the sandcastle must come from within the 30x30 plot.
  3. You cannot start (enter the plot) until 9:00 a.m. and must finish by 3:00 p.m. (It kind of makes you feel like you are on some sort of reality TV show.)
The day of the sandcastle competition we started out slathering ourselves with sunscreen setting up our forms. These were very nontraditional, experimental forms. (Forms are generally box like shapes or cylindrical shapes.) We the guys started out bracing the forms and screwing the bracing into place.

As you can see from the picture, you also need many, many buckets full of water. And, yes, this is just plain old water directly from the ocean. As tempting as it may seem, no adhesives are added.

Next the guys added another part of the forms on the front.

Once the forms were finished and ready to go, the real work began. Time to bring in the backhoe add sand, shovel full by shovel full. And let me tell you, we all took our turns shoveling sand.

Once there was about 4 or so inches of sand, we began pouring buckets of water over it and "tamping" it down. Well, we used "tampers" but it was definitely more along the lines of pounding the sand.

By the way, building a sandcastle like this means you will get dirty. You will be covered in sand and salt water. Guaranteed.

At one point a man walked up who was apparently a radio program host. He interviewed Amos live and apparently really liked our team t-shirts. He also was very impressed by our teamwork and said that we were one of the most "team like" teams participating in the competition.

After what felt like hours of grueling manual labor (did I mention that those 5 gallon buckets had to be refilled over and over again?), we finally packed the sand up to our goal height. Time for the moment of truth. The guys whipped out the drills and began to remove the bracing for our forms. They removed the form from the right side.

Success! Our experimental (risky) form worked! With a boost of confidence, they removed the form from the left side.

Semi-success! So it was a little disappointing that the whole thing didn't hold, but the majority of it was solid and the area that fell was definitely scavengeable (I don't think that is a real word, but I like it anyway.). Now, the real fun began. Creative juices began to flow and the artistic sides emerged.

Look at the amazing transformation. This is the corner that appeared ruined when we removed the forms, Now, it is an amazing wave encompassing a swordfish!

Our goal was a forced perspective and in the back (supposed to appear far away) is our hill with pyramids.


Even our little Ayla participated by letting us borrow her feet to make small footprints.

Here is our finished product:

Exodus 14:21-22 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.


In the end, we won first place in the intermediate category! This last picture is of our team after we found out that we won!


  1. How wonderful! Where else would your ever learn a craft like this? Bravo, Tanya! Love, Aunt Susi

  2. Okay, I'm kicking you off my blog roll after no updates in over 1.5 years. Let me know if you ever start it up again! :)