Open Range 2024 | All HTL Outdoor Event

Saved by the Cold Rain

The weather report was for cold and drizzle a short time on Friday, maybe Saturday for an hour. Turned out it lasted all night Friday and all-day Saturday. Wet, cold, rain. But the boys that were at campsite 43 and 44 at Buescher State Park in Central Texas didn’t seem to notice. 

The health of our boys coming out of the Covid years is a topic in the news as of recent. The ICU areas of the hospitals are not the ones full, but the mental health wings are bulging with kids. The isolation, electronic media, and face masks have wounded them deeply. Many boys try to hide their feelings and be hard, not to let the emotion of fear and confusion out. For most of them they don’t know why, they just must be hard. It has been and is a brutal blow for their mental, spiritual, and physical beings.

A walk outside away from electronic media is recommended for anyone cooped up in front of a screen or stressed. Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ) leaders are doing just that with the boys they mentor. They are fishing and hiking, camping, and exploring parks across the US and Canada. Right now, it is a life rescue mission.

Those boys at sites 43 and 44 hiked with the leaders for hours, explored the old lakebed and the woods all around them. They ate bacon, eggs, and cinnamon roll pancakes cooked over the open flame. They had their fill of grilled meats, tortillas, and veggies. They laughed and shivered and sweated in the cold drizzle. 

They watched the flames inside the fire ring burn down as the smoke swirled up under and out from beneath the wet canopy cover as they talked about Jesus and David the shepard boy. They talked about how God loved them and that they were “Strong and Fierce Warriors for Him.” It was a safe place, a healthy place, a healing place. 

Sunday morning, as they packed and explored their last trail, the sun came out. Clear, bright blue skies as far as you could see. The men who brought the boys would have plenty of work to do after the boys were home. Wet gear would need attending to, dirty cooking gear, pans, ice chests cleaned. It was a lot of work before, during, and after.

Ah, but the thing about these men, they are chasing Jesus in a powerful way. Using His example by training boys outdoors (John 21). Mentoring these boys around a campfire, on a trail, on the lake shore. They endure the hardships and discomforts right along with their boys. They teach them they can “Do hard things.” They teach them by example. 

And these men would also tell you they would not change a cold, wet moment. The conversations with the boys. The pride they had in seeing their boys power through the weather and the hardships. It’s a guy thing, a KOZ thing, it’s a Jesus thing. 

Lastly, these amazing men, they would tell you, “You can’t always trust the TV weatherman and you just gotta be #KOZstrong.”


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