481 (10/28/09)

     Join us Saturday as we bring another successful year of Trail Guards to an end.  We meet at 9:00am at the Nature Park, as usual, and wrap up our trail work and park maintenance as winter winds knock at the door.  We’ll have a warm fire and hot chocolate, and serve a warm meal before locking the storeroom door for one last time.

     In recognition of our dedicated young membership, we will have an awards ceremony at 11:00am to honor our top point earners, as well as participants on some of our more strenuous bicycle trips.  This is something new for us, and the kids are all hoping to get a medallion. 

     Last week, our “question of the day” was, “What was your best favorite thing you did at Trail Guards this year?”  The answers were as varied as our activities, but there were clear front runners.

     As in the past, top individual activity honors went to our annual “Clean the River” day, the most physically demanding day we have at the park.  It involves walking in cold September river water all morning, hauling in heavy, muddy debris that is piled at the park, sorted, and taken to appropriate recycling and landfill facilities.

     It’s enormously fulfilling for everyone--from the very youngest, to the very oldest participant, and amusing to see how creatively we can soak everything we have on in water that‘s only knee-deep.

     The outings rank next, especially the BWCA trip, and, for the one lucky participant, the international bike trip--rigorous trips that open a new world to those who are involved. 

     But the real overall winner, interestingly enough, is the sum total of what gets them out of bed, past the TV and computer, and to the park each Saturday morning for six months straight.  They love being outside with their friends, helping with the food, working on the trails, participating in the daily “opening circle” and scheduled programs, and selling candy bars.

     Our workdays end, but Trail Guards continues all year.  We are looking forward to our fundraising drive, a winter “My Room” project, our winter “Snow Day” at the park, and our new and exciting canoe and kayak camping adventure in Everglades National Park next March.

     We were very blessed with another injury-and-incident-free year, a tribute to our great kids, and to the supervisors who watched over our workdays and outings.  We also had another year with virtually no vandalism to the park, a testament to the pride and ownership of the 277 kids from Paynesville and surrounding communities who have helped create and maintain it.

     Thanks to everyone for a great year!