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End of the Trail

By Pastor Tom Anderson

It was Friday night. I shouldered my rucksack. I strode into the woods. The grounds of Camp Agawam spread before me. My purpose was to lead the Trail Life boys from Thrive Church in a weekend of adventure, character building and leadership development. The spring camporee draws boys from all over the state. This was to be my last campout.

I found my spot. A soft bed of needles from nearby red pines invited me. I stretched out my tarp upon nature’s carpet. With ropes, stakes and my staff, I built the classic “wedge” tent. Adding a mat, a down bag and a camp stool completed my quarters. The boys were astonished. “Where’s your tent?” they asked. “Won’t you get wet? How are you going to sleep?” I smiled and said, “This is all I need.” And it was. I slept like a baby, awakening only once to hear coyotes howl.

At our campfire that night I was treated to 250 boys singing I’m making a purple soup. It’s not a tune that Taylor Swift will ever pick up, but it was a hit at Camp Agawam. Sixteen-year-old boys stood before us to preach the gospel and encourage the boys from the scriptures. There is hope for this world.

Saturday was packed with activity. My assignment was to assist our troop master, Brent Rankin, in running the slingshot range. Ten at a time we armed little boys with wrist-rockets. They pelted pie plates and tin cans with high-speed garbanzo beans. Unnoticed by the boys was a mother robin sitting on her eggs not 10 feet above the fray. It was a harrowing day for her! The boys circulated among many other stations from archery to navigation.

A cool morning of rain and wind gave way to sun and 78*F in the afternoon. With our programs complete, the boys disbursed to the playground. I returned to my “wedge” for a nap before dinner. Nothing like lying atop a down bag and the smell of pine to put a man to rest. I awoke to strike my shelter and pack my rucksack. Again, the astonishment of the boys brought incredulity. “That’s it? That’s all you brought?” Yes, and it was enough.

I congratulated our leaders for a fine year of Trail Life at Thrive Church. I thanked them for their service and encouraged them with the momentum we’ve built in the program this year with 16 boys and 4 new adult leaders. With enthusiasm we began to dream about adventures for the boys in the future, Isle Royale? The Boundary Waters? The Rockies? My heart thrilled.

After dinner I walked alone through the woods. I headed to the truck to return for Sunday. I stopped to sit upon a log and drink in the fine spring evening. The maples were just leafing out. Through the woods the colorful tents of the encampment lay. Fires were burning. Wood smoke was in the air. Boys shouted out from the playing fields beyond the woods behind me. Robins sang. This is peace.

I’ve been on this trail for more than four decades. This was the end. Before tears could come, I needed to talk to God. Thank you, Lord, for this fine evening. Thank you, Lord, for these boys and their dads. Thank you, Lord, for the chance to raise them into honorable men and followers of Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of walking this trail for so many years. I leave it now knowing that with you, I will seek other paths.


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