469 (7/29/09)

     Last Saturday’s northwest wind worked fairly well for us as we paddled straight southeast to First Island for our 12th annual “Canoe and Kayak Picnic Cruise,” but was a definite challenge on the return trip.  In fact, there were a few moments when we had to remind ourselves how much fun we were really having.

     But we built more memories, got a good workout, and learned a few things along the way.   Our flotilla of ten canoes and two kayaks all made it safely back to the dock, and it was all laughs and head shaking after that.  Everyone had a great time, despite getting a little more than we bargained for at the end.

     This is always a fun day for Trail Guards of all ages.  Indeed, this year’s paddlers ranged from age 8 to 56, and were joined by board members Dr. Jim Hess and Bill Virant, Jim ferrying our food crew and serving as rescue boat, Bill showing off on his windsurfer.

     Thanks to Jane Monson for furnishing lunch--her way of showing appreciation for the beautiful nature park the Trail Guards has built and maintains just down the street from her house.  We are so grateful for her kind and generous gesture.

     Special thanks, as well, to Cyril and Sheri DeMars for getting a fabulous lunch to us on the island, and to Dave, Deb, and Craig Heitke for the use of their island.  In return, we had all 35 of us (24 kids, 11 adults) perform our famous “penny check” before leaving. 

     Everyone has to go out and look for a penny, and, while looking, pick up every scrap of litter they come across.  Besides being a fun time (someone actually found a penny at campsite in the Boundary Waters one year!), it’s a great way to thoroughly scour an area in a very short time. 

     Keegan Meagher did a great job as lifeguard,  and we could not have gotten on the water without equipment loans from Gwen and Marc Nettz (Koronis Ministries) and Dr. Tom and Robin Sult, New London.

     Joe Kustritz, one of our summer supervisors, provided some entertainment on the way out when he decided paddling a kayak right-side up wasn’t challenging enough, and took an unplanned swim under and alongside his boat.  Mark Hawkinson and Rob Clawson paddled back out to help pull Joe to a more comfortable position in their canoe for the remainder of his trip, and he was none the worse for wear.  Thanks, guys!

     Joe is one of those guys who just keeps getting back up, and after also struggling on his return trip, left the Nature Park all smiles, saying, “See you next week!”  We’re very lucky to have him.

     Next up for us is our five-day BWCAW trip in mid-August.