455 (2-11-09)

     If it was up to the Trail Guard kids, we would have Trail Guards all winter. They ask every year. Beg, if fact. And if I didn't have a family, a job, and other things going on in my life, it would be a real, honest consideration.

     But, things as they are, we quit before deer hunting, and start again in the spring. Except for last Saturday, when we had our first, and hopefully annual, Trail Guard "Snow Day."

     Just thirteen kids showed up for very fun morning at the Nature Park. I was surprised, but not discouraged, by the low turnout. It was a nice first run that will set the pace for next year, when we will know more about what to expect, especially in terms of the kids' expectations, which activities they enjoyed, how they dress (that is, how prepared they are to be outdoors for three hours in the cold), and so forth.

     We enjoyed snowshoeing, tug-of-war in the snow (fun!), a great river walk on the ice and snow, and hotdogs and hot chocolate over a glowing campfire. We also videotaped some very interesting interviews. We asked kids to relate a Trail Guard "best experience," and explain how it affected their lives.

     As you might expect, it took a little coaching and coaxing, but the comments were great, and affirmed a lot of what we try to bring into the lives of our young members--a deeper caring for the environment, increased self-awareness, a wider view of the world around them, and the growth that accompanies managed personal challenge.

     Nearly all the kids tried the snowshoes, but we had some equipment issues that made it difficult. Once we got by the broken and missing bindings, some of them discovered a whole new way to explore the winter woods. We have spare bindings and straps, and are looking for someone with the time to sort through them, and bring all eleven sets of shoes up to a reliable condition. Please call me at 320-250-0464 if you can help out with that.

     Thanks to all who helped out with our “Snow Day,” especially Marc Nettz, Rich Gottwald, Tom Schwalbe, and Voss Plumbing.

     Saturday also found us working hard on this winter's "My Room" project, our 13th. Our lucky young Trail Guard is getting a beautiful bedroom makeover, guided by her very own interior decorator. Her room has been rewired, the walls are patched and painted, and new carpet should go down this week.

     It's looking great. Thanks to all for your help, especially Eddie Gottwald, Gretchen O'Fallon, Gerry Mehr, Sue Drager, Noah and Tyler Barkley, and Al Gully. But the real thanks goes to her mom and dad, who were kind enough to let us into their home for this project, and have done so much of the work themselves. Thanks!

     Thanks also to everyone for the phenomenal support we have received during our recent fund drive.  Your donations and kind comments mean everything to us.