472 (8/26/09)

     People are always asking, “How is Trail Guards going this summer?”  Well, I don’t want to jinx us, or get too sappy, but I’ve had to keep pinching myself this year to make sure I’m not stuck in some parallel universe dream world.

     Last Saturday morning would have been a good time to stop by the Nature Park to see us in action.  There were kids everywhere--all with a mission, and all performing like superstars.  And even if you stayed all morning, you would have been hard-pressed to have heard a cross word between them.

     Some were drying tents and other gear from the recent BWCA trip.  Some were washing dirty hiking boots and gear packs.  Others were spreading wood chips on the trail.  And still others were repairing the broken “Troy’s Trail” sign, raking the recently mowed grass, trimming the hedge, and picking up litter on the trails.  It was all a sight to see.

     This is not just good luck.  It is largely the result of a system we have refined over the years to help keep things wholesome, positive, and sane.  There are very specific things we do each and every Saturday, and others we routinely work into our program.  It has all helped us evolve into a stronger and more effective youth organization.

     Between all that action, Joe Hauger, a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) employee from Granite Falls, presented a wonderful program about the work he does, and other aspects of the PCA.  We learned of the beginning and history of the agency, some of what they monitor, and Joe’s work as an inspector of tanks containing fuel and other liquids. 

     Thanks, Joe, for an enlightening program.  He would like to return sometime with his telescope for a night of guided stargazing.  Is anyone up for that?

     Last week’s very successful BWCA trip would not have been possible without some very specific support.  Thanks to Ron and Judy Stransky for getting us into some very high-quality sleeping bags.  We used to get these from REI’s great youth organization loan program, which presented logistical demands.  We now have warm, packable synthetic (warm even when wet) sleeping bags that will serve us for many years.

     Thanks also to Doug Miller for the generous loan of his vehicle for the week.  All nine of us fit comfortably and legally within, with seat belts for all, and enough power to pull a trailer-load of canoes and gear.

     This 15th annual canoe trip went extremely well, thanks in large part to the rock-star co-leadership of Michelle Kelly, St. Paul.  See next week’s column for trip details.