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Summer 2013 Trip to the Boundary Waters

Published on September 26, 2013

This year's trek to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota was a huge success!  The kids had a wonderful time getting up close and personal with nature!  Thank you to everyone that very generously sponsored the trip! The staff, volunteers and kids had great adventures and made memories that will last a lifetime!

One of our volunteers, Mark Carpenter, wrote a great recap of the trip for us.  Thank you Mark!

My name is Mark Carpenter and I am now a Building Bridges Boundary Waters Alumni!  I am the head personal trainer at Prodigy Fitness in Springboro, Ohio.  We work with Building Bridges and coach/mentor many of the kids through the Medals in the Making program. Luigi asked me to be a chaperone on the MN trip to the boundary waters in 2012 and I accepted.  This trip was a huge challenge and hard for me.  It took me until January of 2013 to smile at the thought of going back on the MN trip again. I had no idea what to expect other than it was going to be tough. 

As “D” Day approached, I prepared myself to hear Luigi saying "Here we go SONNNNN!!!”.  This trip would be different for many reasons.  This year we were taking a 14 year old girl.  Josie had been asking Luigi, Marcus, and I for 9 months if she would be allowed to go on this year’s trip. She was told yes, if she could find a female chaperone crazy enough to go with us. This would mean putting two women in very strenuous and potentially dangerous situations.  As it was in God's plan for this to happen, one of the volunteers for the Medals in the Making Program, Angela, jumped at the idea of going on the trip.  Angela is an R.N. who works with people battling advanced illnesses, and also volunteers at the Medals in the Making Program.  After Angela had a conversation with Luigi, to make sure she knew what she was getting into, we confirmed that Josie and Angela would be joining us for the trip. 

The drive was as good as it can be. Gassy children, cramped space in a van, and all of us believing we can sing/rap/perform made for great laughs.  We arrived to beautiful weather and delicious pancakes!  The first day we encouraged the kids to conquer fears, talked to them about working together as a team, listening to staff, being patient with themselves and others, journaling and expressing their thoughts, following the rules, communicating, and getting familiar with the water.  We practiced canoeing, did some swimming, and tried fishing.  FISHING: When a man tangles a fishing line in a way that seems impossible, and Angela fixes them. 

On Tuesday we were officially on the water for the start of our 55 mile trek.  We made fantastic time and reached our normal campsite.  However, due to an unforeseen circumstance in Canada, we had to leave. The challenging thing about this day was how much ground and water we covered. To reach the next campsite we canoed and portaged almost 2 days worth in 1 day. We canoed over 20 miles and portaged about two miles.  I remember, at one point, we could not find a campsite. We sat in the middle of a huge lake with rough waters just before sunset and no campsites available. All the kids and staff told me, “You better pray, and it better work!"  I know what they meant.  Last year, I prayed for it to stop raining, and it rained every day. It seemed the harder I prayed, the harder it rained. It was a good lesson for the kids and I, in that just because you prayed does not mean it gets answered immediately, nor does it mean you should stop praying. However, shortly after I said the prayer this year, God was good, as always, and did provide us with a beautiful campsite just before dark.  Each day of this trip had challenges and each one was overcome as a team.  The kids worked together putting up tents, washing dishes, collecting wood and portaging.  The time we spent in the canoe with the kids was amazing. It was great to see kids that were scared of water overcoming their fear. I thought about how blessed the Community Based Services staff and I were to have shared this experience with these kids and to touch their lives and their hearts.

On this trip, we were cut off from the outside world and did not have access to any electronic devices. All we had on this trip was us and God. The kids opened up to us, listened to us, and I learned a lot about them and myself.  The last night in the wilderness was full of laughing, encouragement, and smiles.  We made it back Friday morning to hot pancakes and the best shower in the world.  A long car ride home provided time for us to reflect and joke about our new friendships formed by overcoming the challenges as a team we incurred together during this trip.



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