Friday, April 04, 2008

Making a Positive Difference

We are at a stage of life where we are very busy. Besides a regular job, we are very active in both our church and community. With five school age children, we have many commitments and matters which require our attention. Among the week’s activities, my wife and I always work to get a date together, and I take time out for a special outing with a child.

While I take advantage of any opportunity to get one-on-one time with any of my children, we have a rotating schedule where dad takes each child on a planned outing. It’s nothing glamorous. We do something and we get a treat of some kind. We don’t spend much money. Sometimes the outing amounts to little more than running errands. But we’re spending time together and talking in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere.

Today was my fifth grader’s turn. He asked that we go and shoot our wrist rockets. I’ve been trained in all kinds of shooting sports since my early days, including archery, firearms, and slingshots. I own some equipment. But oddly enough, I’ve never really enjoyed it. And despite my training, I am a terrible shot. I’ve never successfully shot an animal of any size or kind, so I’m no hunter. I pretty much engage in shooting sports only for the benefit of others nowadays.

I took my fifth grader to a location near our home that he’s never visited before. We could have walked, but we drove. There are a number of trails running through the hills east of North Ogden. It was easy to find a location where we could set up a safe slingshot range. I’m a stickler for safety when shooting. You’ve got to have eye protection, hearing protection for firearms, a safe backstop, and range rules that prevent everyone from getting into anyone else’s line of fire. Yeah, I even do this for slingshots — even when there’s only two of us.

After what seemed like endless shooting at milk jugs, I suggested that we explore the area. Of course, that area is not new to me, so I knew where I was guiding my son. We were soon walking up fairly steep inclines, breathing heavily as we clambered up deer trails that were heavily littered with deer scat. My son mentioned more than once that he was probably ready to go back.

Finally we came to level ground where the expanse of western Weber County spread out before our eyes. Then just up a small hill from there, we were at the base of a large rocky escarpment that is known as Big Rock. Of course, my son forgot all about his fatigue and wanted to get to the top of that rock. There is a decent trail that brings you up to the rear of the rock’s summit if you know how to find it. We clambered up the trail and were soon more than 100 feet above where we had been standing a few minutes earlier.

After a few minutes in the breeze (it’s always windy up there), my son noticed the trail that led away further up the hill behind Big Rock. He had to climb up there. We had to walk through the snow that still lingers up there. At the top of that knoll, my son saw that a trail split off that led higher and higher, up to the top of a peak. He wanted to climb up there, but I demurred. There was too much snow and it wasn’t safe. The distance to the peak was much longer than he realized.

Had we climbed to the top of that peak, another peak would have become visible. Of course, from there, the trail continues higher. You can make a good six-mile hike out of it to the highest peak in the area. None of that upper area is safely accessible at the moment.

So we started scrambling back down the mountain and back down the hills. We didn’t return quite the same way we came, but eventually we were back at our slingshot range. We collected our milk jugs and returned to the vehicle. Throughout this whole trek, we met no one else. It was like we were in our own private world.

By the time we got home, we had been away from the house only about an hour and a half. But for my son, it had been a private adventure with his dad in a new and exciting world. This is the kind of thing that makes all the difference in the world for a boy.

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