456 (4/29/09)

     Things got off to a great start for us last Saturday as we began our 18th year of work, fun, and play at the Crow River Nature Park.  Trail Guards has officially started for the year, and the park is open and looking good, despite heavy damage to the trails from the high volume of spring run-off.

     Kids have been calling and texting me for weeks about the flood damage.  They’ve been sending pictures to my phone.  They are amazed by the power of the river.  And they took the challenge of rebuilding head on Saturday morning.

     Something mysterious keeps bringing these kids back.  With all the familiar faces and smiles, it was almost like we had not just taken six months off.  After our normal opening circle, introduction of our new seasonal supervisors, and a brush-up on our simple rules--the first being that no one has work--they all went to work, and with a vengeance.

     We planted trees to help the city commemorate Arbor Day, cleaned up litter all over the park, moved logs and debris from the most jammed up trail locations, and started the never-ending task of reapplying wood chips to our one mile network of walking and biking paths.

     We also started talking about outings, especially the second annual May Bike Trip to Willmar and back, including two nights of remote camping, coming up in just over two weeks.  This is a self-supported trip, hauling everything we need--tents, sleeping bags, food, and gear--in panniers attached to the front and rear of our bikes.  

     Immediately after Trail Guards, two young bike peddlers joined me at a booth at a special REI bicycle clinic at their Bloomington store.  Two Wheel View, the Calgary/Minneapolis nonprofit that leads international youth bicycle adventures, had a booth, and we helped tell others about their fantastic program.

     Thanks to Crystal Roberts, who will be joining TWV in Norway this summer, and Katie Schwalbe, a rising Trail Guard star, for giving up their afternoon.  We had fun!

     We will be taking new Trail Guard members after school is out for the year.  Kids aged eight to nineteen are welcome any Saturday morning after that.  We meet at the Crow River Nature Park on the north end of Burr Street at 9:00AM, provide a prepared sit-down group lunch at 11:30AM, and are done at noon.  As a safety and liability precaution, everyone is required to leave the park at that time.  It is between the kids and their parents if they wish to return to the park later in the day.