A very important part of On Target is our volunteers, we couldn't do what we do without them and the campers love being able to get to know them and look up to them. We strive to provide opportunities for them as well since many of them are too old for our traditional camps. This summer, we planned this Appalachian Trail trip for them.
On Friday afternoon, we met at the range and began our journey to Washington Monument State Park in Maryland, where we would be camping for the next four nights. The next few days we embarked on a historical journey through the Appalachian Trail.
On Saturday, we hiked our first ten miles to Gathland State Park. It was amazing how fast the kids were to hike the trail! (Don't worry, we had a few adults who were able to lead the pack and keep up the kid's pace, it certainly wasn't me!!!). We took our lunch break at a beautiful scenic overlook and were picked up by our support crew at the end of our hike.
On day one the rocks, and Steve of course, taught us a lesson about unloading weight from our packs and pressing forward in our lives. Every mile, a small rock was added to one of the kids book bags and we used this as a visual illustration of unloading our burdens and the pain that we carry with us from the past.
2 Corinthians 5:17"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
On Sunday, we hiked another ten miles from Gathland State Park to Harper's Ferry. Today's hike was a little easier than yesterday's hike (to me at least). Today brought a better view as well, it was amazing. After lunch, the trail was full of beautiful and challenging switch-backs. After the hike, a few of us went into the town of Harper's Ferry to get ice cream and shop around for a little bit. It was a nice town with so many cute shops and so much history.
Sundays lesson continued on from Saturday, we discussed how God uses our burdens to shape our futures and make us stronger, and how it can bring us closer to one another by being compassionate towards God's children.
James 1: 2 - 4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
As Monday came along, we were all very tired and sore. The kids were very happy to take a bike ride today along the C & O Canal Towpath. After the 20 mile bike ride, we ended up at Antietam where part of the group explored the battlefield and part of the group returned back to camp. The battlefield was a surreal experience, it was hard to fathom the events that happened here. After learning the rich history of the battlefield, the group headed back to camp and with the help of Eric, we branded pieces of wood with the Appalachian Trial and C & O Canal logos. I don't know about the other kids but I was so excited that I got to learn that skill!
Tuesday morning came and before I knew it the campsite was torn down and we were ready to go back home (I was very ready to go home to shower in a place that didn't have millions of spiders lurking). We loaded into cars and began our journey home.
On the way back, we stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial. The memories that this place held were unimaginable and a sinking feeling accompanied me throughout the area. I am so glad that we had this opportunity to visit here and to learn about the hero's who gave their lives in this plane crash.
We arrived back home that evening with full hearts and tired bodies. I would not give up this experience for anything.
I am thankful for this trip for a few different reasons; I got to know the volunteers and their families so much better (especially Kasey and April!), I pushed myself way outside of my comfort zone and overcame some big challenges, and I got to spend time in God's creation and in His word with my second family.
I encourage you to try something new soon and to push yourself farther than you have before because the rewards are plentiful. God will give you the strength to climb and overcome in your lives, whether it is an everyday struggle bringing you down or it is something bigger. Don't give up, pray to the Lord for strength and take the leap.
Thanks for reading and for supporting On Target in our journey.