May 15, 2019 Column
Updated: Jun 11, 2019
Running successful Trail Guard outings has a learning curve, just like pretty much everything else we all do. Trail Guards has been doing some of what we do for a fairly long time, and it’s our hope that we keep getting better.
Part of our mission statement says we promote personal awareness through managed challenge. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, in his great book “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness,” details how things like play, practice, mastery, and recognition are key to that goal, and we incorporate those very things into our activities the best we can.
Managed challenge means putting kids in a position to overcome hardship in a safe and controlled manner – things they often don’t know that they can do, but thatwe know they can do. And last Saturday’s strong southwest wind provided a manageable challenge. The flags were straight out, and pointing right at us.
We provided the encouragement and, in the end, the recognition as eight kids aged 13 through 15 pedaled fully loaded mountain bikes 43 miles that day, the first 25 directly into that wind from Paynesville to Willmar.
We were rewarded, of course, with that nice boost on our backs when we turned around and headed back to our overnight campsite new New London, but the challenge was there, shared by all, and overcome with high-fives and laughter.
Probably the most amazing part was not hearing one single word of complaint - despite sore muscles, some allergy issues, three kids carrying inhalers, and some young and light-framed kids.
We end our evenings in camp with what we call “Closing Circle,” and a component of that is our Appreciation Circle. Everyone has to mention one thing that someone did for them that day that they really appreciated, and it’s truly amazing what you hear. My appreciation was that even with very hard going I never heard a cross word from anyone all day, which in and of itself keeps a group buoyant and moving in the right direction.
This year’s group: Katie Sibila, Sierra Roeser, Adrianna Schlangen, Bridgit Kruger, Deric Schlangen, Trenen Pierskalla, and Dalton and Colin Lahr. These kids are amazing.
Thanks to Chuck Nyberg and Bill Virant for their help in leading this trip.