June 5, 2019 Column
The official start of Trail Guard summer is always the first Saturday after Memorial Day. We start out slow, and depending on the river level speed things up as spring moves on.
Years ago (only once), I announced in a big way the start of Trail Guards for the season. I posted it in the Paynesville Press current events, mentioned it in this column, and I believe even sent a letter out to the parents of our active Trail Guard kids.
When I talk about a learning curve, this is exactly what I'm talking about. We had over 40 spring-fever-crazed kids show up to be supervised by two adults, and it was mass chaos.
These days we start our season gently, and this season was especially slow due to the weather, our bike trip, and the high river level. Last Saturday was our real starting point, and we had one of the best Trail Guard days ever.
The river is down, but we have a bonafide muddy mess on the trails. The kids are eager to haul wood chips, and it didn't take long to have a mower and trailer stuck axle deep in the muck.
The kids learned a lot about teamwork and the power of many as we solved that crisis and others, and the bonafide muddy mess then became the kids themselves - and I still can't stop laughing just thinking about it!
When I reflect back over our Trail Guard history, there are blocks of years and kids that seemed to define Trail Guards at the time. I would wonder how we would survive as they grew older and moved on.
But it is an ever-evolving thing, and our average age right now is around 12 years old. The kids just keep coming, and their enthusiasm and dedication is inspiring and heartwarming, and a testament to our system and program.