September 22, 2019 Column
Years ago, Trail Guards was a rain or shine event. We didn’t care what the weather was doing, and today’s kids would still not care. What kid doesn’t like splashing around in puddles in the falling rain?
But somewhere along the line we started cancelling for rain. Maybe it was just so I could sneak in a free Saturday morning here and there.
I remember a particularly rainy Saturday years ago. Warren Nehring was at the park with a skid loader helping us clean up some debris, and kids were running around in the rain with rakes and wheelbarrows.
I was standing next to Warren when a kid a ran up in a panic. “Tom!” he spit out. “Those guys said we have to quit just because it’s raining! Do we?”
“Um, no,” I replied. “You can keep working.” “Good!” he said as he ran off, splashing in the rain.
Warren looked at me in absolute amazement. “How do you get them to do that?” he asked. “I have no clue,” was all I could say.
But it never really had a thing to do with “getting” them to do anything. It was all about “letting’ them do things. Harmless things that let them be kids, let them burn off that tremendous youthful energy that’s always looking for an outlet, and a chance to be themselves. And they always knew there was a Trail Guard reward not far away – acknowledgment, praise, permission, quiet oversight, and warm food.
The flooded Crow River and last Saturday’s mid-morning lightning, thunder, rain, and strong wind gusts meant cancelling our annual river cleanup – often voted the kids’ favorite TG day of the year.
It’s not about keeping them dry. It’s about the power of moving water and the dangers of stormy weather. We’ll keep an eye on the river level before deciding about rescheduling.
This coming Saturday’s Fall Fishing Day, however, is a rain-or-shine event, and we’ll look forward to Michelle Kelly’s fun and educational program.