2014 Canoeing Action Camp  So. Mo. District JLTA   (Click on a picture for a larger view)

June 19th and 20th, 2014.  Temps 89 partly cloudy.  Chance of rain but none fell except on the drive home.

Charles Bowser always puts on the best JLTA camps.  This float trip was well planned and went very smoothly.  The float was on the Jacks Fork River put in place was 2 miles east of Mountain View at Buck Hollow on Hwy 17 bridge.  Just a few miles north of 60 hwy.  After some instruction we hit the water at 2:30 pm floating at a water level of 1.60 on the Jacks Fork River Level gauge state site.  It was just enough to float with the occasional spot we had to get out and drag the boats a few feet into deeper water.  I wouldn't recommend floating with any less water than the 1.60. 

13 of us floated 9 miles to Rymers a small campground on the river with a 5.00 per site fee.  Take M Hwy north of hwy 60.  Jerry, Don, James and Charles ran base camp preparing meals, running shuttle vehicles and taking care of base camp arrangements.  The 13 of us floated down the Jacks Fork the first National River park.  This section of the river has protected 18" bass limit length.  So Devon, Rob and I fished off and on along the way at good fishing holes.  Devon took the prize with most fish and biggest fish but only because I didn't get mine in the boat... GRIN!   Rob had a lot of fun fishing with crawdads and we had to stop a couple of times because well those boys and men need to swim and explore with masks on.   Along the way we saw many flips.  Some guys flipped their canoes 10 times or more.  We stopped at a cool cave and went back to about as far back as we could go with out swimming in that ice cold water.  It was a cool break and that cave was big. We arrived at base camp about 7:30 pm in time for Higgie's famous Dutch oven cornbread and ham and beans.  Woo Whoo Rangers now that is some mighty fine river food!

Around camp Charles and Steve finished up on the canoeing merit paper work.  We had a neat council fire down at the rivers edge and Charles brought the Word.  It wasn't long before it was dark and I know it got quiet and soon we were snoozing in our tents at about 4 camps.  I can remember many of the group after the 9 miles of paddling kinda skeered of the 15 miles we would do the next day. Flesh was getting the best of us.. I wanted to stay at base camp but duty called and I made the decision I was going.  The next moring... I felt great. Not even one sore muscle.  Praise God. 

After a great breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast and sunny delight we was READY!  What a perfect day.  I don't know how it happened but Steve ended up in a canoe by himself.  The front of his canoe was way out of the water so he found a big rock named him Leroy and put him in the front of the canoe.  Well it wasn't long about 500 feet down the river and Leroy made Steve's canoe flip.  So Steve had to have a word with him and pretty soon Steve had a rock that looked just like  Leroy moved up more towards the front of the canoe and he called him Fred.   About a quarter way on the 15 mile trip I asked Rob how Steve was doing piloting that canoe with Fred (the rock) and he said I don't know.  I can't get a word in edgewise between Steve and Fred (the rock).   We had a good laugh and so it started.  Not too far Devon found a full can of beer on the beach as he was doing stream cleaning collecting trash in a bag and Steve had the bag so he said put the beer in the trash bag up there by Fred.  A  little ways further the boys found a fishing knife all rusty in the river and we put it in the same bag and Steve told Fred to keep a watch on it.  Well soon enough I passed by Steve and Fred (the rock) and Steve told me that he thought Fred had gotten into that can of beer and we would need to have a talk with him.  So it went on ...

Lunch on the river was short and nice. We had 7 miles left.  These boys paddled hard.  It was a chore to keep up with them.   We found this River to be very much like the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.  It was pretty and a scenic float.  Soon enough we were at the take out place at about 4:10 pm.  Soon the rest of the group came in behind and Steve told me we had a tragedy on the river.  He and Fred (the rock) tipped and Fred never came back up.  So they had a little service down on the river for Fred (the rock).  These guys.  Just a bunch of big ole boys that love Jesus and enjoy having fun.

After about a 35 minute drive we were back at Rymers to base camp and had closing ceremony and supper Goolosh and yum.  Packed up and heading home.  I had Rob and 2 Rangers in my truck pulling the outpost trailer with Kayaks in it and we had a blow out on my front driver side tire.  I got out and looked at it.  Got back in and pulled the truck farther off the road.  About that time a guy in a small car whipped over and stopped and said you guys need some help?  Sure.  He had a tire shirt on and owned a shop 1/4 mile away he was test driving his wife's car and saw us.   He and Rob had the truck jacked up and spare on in 15 minutes and I said you sure are a nice guy.  You a Christian?   He said yes sir.  I have a cross on my business and a fish on my car.  He said your tire is a little low turn around up here at the top of the hill and follow me back to my shop and we will air that spare tire up and you should be good to go.  Thank you Jesus for looking out for us. 

Got home.  Found my wife wearing flip-flops  had fallen down the stairs carrying a big plastic storage box.  She spent 6 hours in the ER and was on the couch with 2 ice packs and a hot corn bag around her neck looking pretty forlorn.  Yet we were thankful "NO BROKEN BONES" sore and pulled muscles.  All this while I was out of cell service..had no clue never got a text, voicemail yet once I got home talking to her she said several had tried to call and text me... I check my phone again and not one showed up.  I had my son call me and bam I got 4 text messages and voicemails.   What a system we have.  Jesus has it all in His good hands.  We are Blessed.

I want to encourage you to bring your boys on these JLTA camps.  They are hands on and fun and the team work and teaching is some of the best there is.

Mark Jones