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Canada is a country with incredible parks and wilderness areas that consistently beckons our Explorers to discover and live a sense of adventure, beauty and Explorer (scouting) skill development in a manner that presents  a sense of challenge, excitement, joy and happiness as we work and at times struggle to accomplish our camp program objectives even during difficult circumstances or times.

This Bike Hike camp weekend to the Elora Gorge Park located some 85 km west of Toronto Ontario offered us a wide range of wilderness and small town experiences that help to transform a simple “bike hike” into an extraordinary experience…

The “bike hike” helped us in many ways…

“Discipline” to ride in a single line within their designated patrols… to recognize that the group only moves as fast as its slowest boy (or at times a leader out of breath…) … to have patience and to support and encourage those who were struggling in a positive supportive manner…

Although we biked for a good number of kilometers (65 in all) through changing wind conditions and ever increasing temperatures the Explorers kept the 8th Explorer law… – the explorer smiles and whistles under all difficulties…

We had breakdowns along the way… a chain came off, another got a flat tire, another fell off his bike not once but twice… so he has bike hike wounds to bring home… allowed us to utilize our first aid skills…

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One explorer remarked that he must be getting old as he could really feel the use of his leg muscles… one of his leaders who is much older than him said…  just wait till you get to be my age…

Always looking for opportunities to further develop our spiritual life and a sense of God we attended the Sunday vigil Mass at a brand new church called “St. Joseph”… in a town called Fergus. On arrival the head usher came up to us to ask… who are you and where are you from… and hey would your Explorers be willing to carry up the gifts… the local Priest warmly welcomed us to his parish and announced our presence at the start of the Mass…  After Mass a good many of the parishioners approached ourselves to let us know how impressed they were with our Explorers being present… with one women saying… my hope for the future of our faith has been rekindled when I saw how reverent your boys are during Mass and how much they believe and love God… thank you so much!

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Given the many opportunities that we are presented with we embraced the opportunity to experience and touch the beauty of nature… first hand… we played by a river, we climbed massive steep rock hills, we observed a massive dam from the bottom used to harness the water to observing some of the vast beauty of the land from afar above the river bed below.

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On Sunday morning we also cycled to attend Sunday morning Mass at St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Elora… a much older church… but very beautiful inside… the Mass was well celebrated but with very few children present… needless to say the Explorers who quietly entered the church in complete and proper uniform where once again noticed by the local parishioners. Within FNE we receive the Lord in Holy Communion on our knees and tongue as after all we are truly in front of the living Lord when we truly receive Jesus himself… what a gift…

On Sunday after Mass we hiked on foot through a local town called Elora telling the Explorers to note points of interest that might assist them the next day for a mystery activity… some patrols hand drew maps into the patrol log book of the town… while others found a local tourist map that they marked up for the next day as to key points of interest all in an effort to improve their observation skills.

On our last morning we cycled back into town of Elora for the great game… each patrol was given a list of items to find and photograph… but the catch was that they needed help from the local people…

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Examples of the items on the list to obtain… a raw egg, 5 pennies (no longer in circulation), a button, a post card, an empty toilet paper roll etc… and photo’s to unravel a series of clues… A place for the dead, a statue for sale outside, photograph of another patrol with them being seen that you are taking their picture… a leaders last name… all in all some 23 different items and photos in total…

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Our youth where pleasantly amazed as to by simply wearing their FNE/FSE uniforms how the public reacted to their requests… every one responded… all positively and most often bent over backwards to help our Explorers… all because of the uniform that they are wearing… it generates lots of attention and respect from the vast majority of people that we encounter…

The Explorers increased their sense of others by having to talk to strangers in a clear manner to ask for assistance and to really look for the items asked for on the list.

This forced the Explorers to be creative while being open minded with courage to see out strangers to see if they can help unravel the plan… while of course always have some fun and adventure with an open mind.

While on our mission within town we carried our FSE/FNE flag that was noticed by any as we walked on by their residence or place of business. The Explorers returned to camp with an ever clearer understanding how their uniforms that they are wearing generate such strong support from the public community…

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