479 (10/14/09)

     So, what’s up with this weather?  What would be wrong with some sunshine and warm air?  Where is “Indian Summer,” our entitlement for facing another Minnesota winter?

     The snow and cold, as well as glare ice on the sidewalk and parking lot at the Nature Park, meant no Trail Guards last Saturday, just the second cancellation of the year.  We have met every Saturday morning since late April, including the Fourth of July, which was on a Saturday, and both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.  Our Trail Guard kids love working and playing at the park, and Saturday’s cancellation was met with groans and protests.

     As our season winds down, it’s time to start looking ahead.  We have some exciting things planned, and will be asking once more for your support.  We had an unbelievable year in 2009, reaching many kids from Paynesville and surrounding communities in many ways that have positively affected their lives.

     Trail Guards is an opportunity for kids to spend time in the outdoors in an open-ended, yet managed, setting, choosing their level of involvement within expectations and limits of behavior they understand and adhere to.

     We live in world that increasingly separates kids from real connections to the natural world, a trend with well-researched negative affects on their well-being.  At Trail Guards, we respectfully accept kids, despite their changing demeanor and situations, allowing them opportunities to enjoy the outdoors through work and play with their peers.

     Our outings often provide more than entertainment, challenging them physically and emotionally in a safe, supervised manner.  Kids can’t respect the world or people around them if they don’t respect themselves, and they gain that personal respect through challenge and mastery, cornerstones of self-esteem.

      This year we are adding an awards ceremony at the end of our season to recognize the accomplishments of our most active members.  We have medallions for our top point earners, as well as those who have completed some of our more strenuous outings.

     This winter brings a new and exciting opportunity for our young members.  We are planning a four-day canoe and kayak camping excursion through Everglades National Park in southwest Florida.  Participants are planning extra hands-on fund raising activities to help finance this adventure of a lifetime. 

     I have friends and connections from time spent living and working in and around Everglades City and Chokoloskee when I was young, and have been planning an exciting, educational, and safe Trail Guard outing to the area for several years.  We hope to make it an annual addition to our Outdoor Adventure Rewards program.