It was Jimmy’s first visit to the BWCAW. He came with Brent Belisle, and the St. Croix Youth last August. Brent brings young people up every summer, he’s a quiet guy with a subtle sense of humor that can make Andy roll, even in the busiest time of August.
Jimmy is 13, and we could hardly pull a word out of him when he arrived at Tuscarora. Maybe he was excited, but he just looked nervous to me. When they came back, he told his story to anybody who would listen–in the car, in the store, in the office–finally wanting to film his testimony—assisted by his helpful, (and tan) buddy Tristan.
They were cute—and clearly had a good time. But the thing that touched us the most was the way these woods had become Jimmy’s home. It only took at week for it to become a part of him. It was a familiar story to us—Andy and I both discovered the BWCA about that time in our adolescence–in separate youth groups, 8th or 9th grade. I have to say, it didn’t actually kindle a flame until my 3rd trip….but….the spark came on that first trip.
It’s some kind of magic. I suspect it will always hold that spot for Jimmy, because when something becomes a part of you with that kind of intensity at that time in life, the moments can take on a different quality—or at least they did for us. This is also why are hats go off to people like Brent Belisle, Matt and Jamison, Polly, John, and so many others—for bringing the kids in the first place.
The thing is, we know so many people—people all over- Toby in Manhattan and Dirk in France, Linda and Jeannie in the Cascades, Cass in Louisiana, Jim in Iowa……I can’t begin to name them all. It doesn’t matter that they don’t live in the BWCAW, it doesn’t even matter that some of them haven’t visited lately or as often as they wish, it’s just as much their home as it is Jimmy’s as it is ours. It’s the eternal charm of the BWCAW—or as Jimmy put’s it—“I have to say, this is the best trip ever”