Best. Trip. Ever.
by Julie Anderson
Springtime in Utah is very unpredictable. You never know if you’re going to have to wear your coat and snow boots, or if it’s going to be a beautiful, sun-shiny day. Well, this trip we were lucky and ended up with perfect weather for what we had planned! This turned out to be the Best Trip Ever! Bryce Canyon, Horses and a Service Project for the U.S. Forest Service.
We took eight of our horsemanship students to Southern Utah to do a service project for the Forest Service and get in some great horseback riding in the area around Bryce Canyon. These kinds of experiences allow many of our boys to not only get off campus, and experience new things, it also allows them to build ego strength. It also helps them develop skills such as hard work ethics, persistence, and determination. There are many teaching moments on theses trips that many of our boys walk away with as positive experiences and memories. Relationships are build, trust is better established, and our young men’s characters are deepened. We are grateful for all the hard work our equine directors, put into these trips to allow some of our boys to participate in.
Thursday, we left bright and early to make our way to Tropic, Utah, the closest city to where we would be working and riding. The boys were amazed as we got into red-rock country and we were able to see some of the incredible rock formations in this part of the state! I loved it when one of our boys quickly grabbed his notebook and a pencil and started sketching what he was seeing out the car window so he would never forget! I knew right then and there this was going to be the Best Trip Ever for these guys!
After about a three-hour drive, we arrived – everyone very excited for the good times we were going to have during the next few days. We had lunch and then drove to the area where we would be installing fences – barbed-wire fences – for the Forest Service! None of the guys had ever done anything like this before, so I was curious to see how they would do. Would they mess around, trying to make it look like they were working? Or would they put their heart into it and really work hard?
The boys worked like CHAMPS! They literally dug right in by gathering up supplies, laying things out, and quickly began installing the fence!
They found out by using some muscle and stick-to-it-ness they were able to use the 35 lb., manual post pounder to pound the green metal posts into the ground. The whole time they were working I didn’t hear anyone complain. Really.
After a full day of work, we went back to the corral and had the most AMAZING Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs and cheesy potatoes you can imagine! Our equine director knew how to take care of our rumbling tummies!
I don’t think the boys have ever worked so hard in their life! One of the boys, fell asleep with his fork stabbing the next bite of food on his plate! When we got back to the hotel, the boys quickly took their showers and fell asleep before their head even hit their pillow!
The next day, six of the boys went back to work on building more of the fence line, while the other two got to go on a fabulous horse ride with me. We drove the horses in the trailer out to a place known as the “Narrows.” This three-hour horse ride was such a fun way to see some beautiful scenery! We also got to see some petroglyphs! So cool! Words cannot describe the things we saw, so here are some of the pictures . . .
These “narrows” were unbelievable! In some places, we could actually touch both sides of the walls as we rode through on our horses!
After an amazing ride, we went back to join the other boys and finish up fencing for the day. Again, Tony fed us incredible food and we fell asleep to memories of a great day.
The final day of the trip was another “had-to-be-there” kind of day! This day was just for horseback riding – all the hard work was finished! And what an incredible day it was! The boys (and horses) handled crossing rivers and fields of shale really well, and climbed up hillsides, only to be met with a view even better than before!
We all came back home with life changing memories our young men will never forget, and an amazing new perspective on life!