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ROCKCRAWLER.com
Uwharrie National Forest Work Weekend...With A Twist

Story By Donna Gardner
Photos by Ken Carter

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Uwharrie Clean UpThe weekend of July 28-29, 2001 was the monthly work weekend for at Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina. For those who don't know, these work weekends are set up by our local Southern Four Wheel Drive Association liason, Scott Fields, and are staffed mostly by local club members who dutifully show up to toil and sweat and maintain the trails.

We had a great turnout with a total vehicle count of 43! This is important for two reasons. The first reason is that the Forest Service receives additional funding for each body, vehicle, and tool that volunteers it's time. Secondly, it's a heck of a lot easier to get the work done with more bodies!

Well, this weekend seemed normal enough until we saw the green van. It pulled up and deposited about 10 kids ranging from 11 to 17 years of age. They looked at us and we at them. It appeared that they were here to help us. They were very quiet at first, responding with only a "yes sir" or "yes ma'am". Then we started to work and the kids started to work. They worked HARD. They started to laugh and joke with us.

Uwharrie Clean UpWe built tons of fence and a corduroy bridge, but we really built more that weekend. You see, these kids were from a substance abuse/violence counseling center. They had been in a little trouble and had been enrolled in this center to catch them early and set them on the straight and narrow path. Part of their rehabilitation is doing a lot of hard work.

Never had our clubs had more fun on a work day and felt more pride as the kids opened up to us and told us they wanted to stay and help instead of going fishing like they were supposed to. Then they ooh'd and aah'd over the Jeeps and begged for a ride. We drove them up the hill and they laughed and carried on. Some of the Jeeps stacked up on a rockpile and they thought that was the neatest thing!

Uwharrie Clean UpSo we all took pictures and some of the kids hugged us and we told them that we would have them back down for a trailride and bonfire. Planning for that is in the works. Many of us were very touched by these kids and vowed to do more of this kind of thing.

So remember, you just never know when you might get the opportunity to touch a young life, and maybe, some of us can take it upon ourselves to "adopt" a group of kids like this and show them how responsible adults act. Maybe you can save one from falling back down again. Get in touch with some local troubled youth organizations and see how easy it is!