October 30, 2019 Column
Some of what we do at Trail Guards has been with us from the start. A lot has changed since those exciting first efforts back in May of 1992, but the heart and soul of our park work is still with us.
The growth we’ve enjoyed has allowed us to become a well-established nonprofit youth
program that has reached more than 350 area kids over the years – all of whom have helped in the creation and maintenance of a beautiful 12-acre wooded park with a mile of trails, and so much more.
In the beginning, we worked on the park. We worked, and we ate. We cleaned up the river
through town, removed junk and debris from the park property, opened trail corridors, and built structures. We did it as a diverse team, and we felt good about what we were doing. Then we ate some more!
Those things are still with us. The park work is important and vital to what we do and who
we are, and so are the meals. Breaking bread together – especially after sharing labor and fun with people of varied ages, genders, and backgrounds – is incredibly bonding, and is as
important as the ownership and pride we foster with the constant accomplishments at the park.
We’ve spent a lot of time and thought over the past few years discussing the future of Trail
Guards, and it’s those original practices that jump out in front of the conversation. Keeping all
the trips and outings fresh, meaningful, and successful means getting the right people in place
– a moving target that takes long-term planning and action. But the park and the kids will always be there, and are likely the key to our sustainability.
We wrap up our 28th year this Saturday with a trip to Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center for wall climbing, team building, our annual medallion awards, and good food. The park is drained down and tucked in for the winter, and another year of work, fun, friendship, service, adventure, and connection is forever in the hearts of all who joined us.