In the late 70s, when I was in high school, I joined our school outing club.  Having had no camping experience growing up, I was introduced to outdoor pursuits that shaped my interest and ultimately my focus for my future education.  Recently, one of the members and the club leader organized a gathering of a few of us to reconnect.  Thinking about my experiences, I reflected on a camping trip where we encountered rain on New Hampshire’s Mt. Major.  I didn’t come prepared, but luckily, my outing club leader brought spare garbage bags for me.  I also paddled a canoe on the Saco River, went hiking in the White Mountains, and winter camped for the first time.  This was a group where I felt safe, and I made valuable connections with people in my high school.

We should all be thankful for the leaders who plan and execute activities to enhance our quality of life here in Rangeley.  Whether a family fall festival, a local trail maintaining group or an overnight school outing club camping trip, there are many opportunities to enjoy fellowship in Rangeley.  We don’t always see the many hours of work that go into making an event successful, nor can we always predict the many ways this can connect us as citizens.

On the last weekend of September, a small group of RLRS middle and high school outing club members completed an overnight camping trip at Rangeley Lake State Park. Anticipating a rainy evening, we set up our tents and then a tarp over the fire pit area before setting off for a hike on a trail along the shore of Rangeley Lake.  Not too long after we began our hike, it began to rain and continued to rain as we made our way back along the trail over roots and protruding rocks.  Back at our site, we discovered a puddle had formed where our fire was intended.  We worked together to figure out a better way for water to drain off the tarp, readjusted our cooking methods for dinner and built a fire to warm us.  Some of us tended the fire, others helped prepare pasta and sauce and warm buttered bread.  When dinner was ready, we gathered around the fire to fuel our bodies and enjoy our camaraderie.  Later we played games, and talked about things both silly and not.  We met some visitors from Tennessee, baked some chocolate lava cakes, and enjoyed an evening sheltered from the rain by tarp and lean to.  In the morning, each of us built our own breakfast quesadilla,  broke camp and headed home.

For each outing like this, there is someone who has diligently organized student paperwork, reserved the site, gathered gear and come before the school board to obtain approval. Many thanks go to Outing Club leader, Mrs. Simonds, who gave generously of her time to lead our outing club.

Time travel forward to 2019.  A small new group of participants enjoys a rainy campout.  Through this, connections were made that will perhaps guide their choices for the future and bring memories of a place and the people who shared it  We need to remember and appreciate all those community leaders who give of their time and energy to bring us together in a variety of community events.

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