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.
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!
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.
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!