Skipping stones

Sadhana Ramchander

As children, whenever we went on a picnic and found a pond or a lake, we looked for small flat stones and for the next one hour, all we did was throw the stones close to the surface of the water so they went zip…zip…zip…zip! It was addicting, and a lot of fun.

lastwordWe did this at Shamirpet recently, after many years. For my children, it was an introduction to this fun outdoor pastime. A friend we met there told me this was now a ‘sport’ and had a name – ‘skipping stones’, and that there were championships too, and that the world record was 40 skips, and that the French had manufactured a machine to determine the size-weight-velocity ratio of the stone that resulted in an ideal skip…or something like that!

So I came home and googled ‘skipping stones’, and among other things, found this interesting info:

  • Virtually every culture has a term for stone skipping. The English call it ‘ducks and drakes’, Danes call it ‘smutting’; in France, it is ‘ricochet’, in Ireland, ‘stone skiffing’.
  • Eskimos skip rocks on ice; Bedouins on smooth sand.
  • Currently, the Guinness Book of World Records accords the title to Jerdone Coleman McGhee, a Texas engineer who in 1992 scored an incredible 38 skips on the Blanco River.
  • The grandaddy of all such skip-offs is held every Fourth of July on Michigan’s Mackinac Island.
  • It was here in 1977 that John Kolar earned the all-time Mackinac record of “24 plus-infinity” – his stone vanished ominously into fog after two dozen skips!
  • There’s also a book on skipping stones, called The Secrets of Stone Skipping, by Jerdone Coleman-McGhee.
  • And what’s more… someone seems to have come up with this quote: Skip stones, not school!
  • Shakespeare wrote about skipping stones in the original version of Henry V.

Whatever the ‘gyan’ that grew around this simple pastime over the years, I am happy I introduced this ‘sport’ to my children!

The author, writer and editor, also conducts natural studies activities for children. She can be reached at .

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