"It was almost one year ago that we first decided to participate in SIP (Service Is Painless). It wasn't a hard decision, I mean it's pretty much a fantastic idea and DeAnn is one of the most gifted photogs I know. Free pictures for service? Heck, yeah! Picking the right service project was a little bit of a challenge, after all we have an (almost) 14 year old, and an (almost) 7 year old with very different ideas and interests. We thought that the best service project would mix fun and service together and wouldn't require a lot of organization or structure. After a summer visit to our favorite local lake/swimming hole, we stumbled onto - or maybe over - the ideal project. The shoreline of the lake was clogged with litter, a phenomenon I will never understand. Cleaning up the shore would not only present an opportunity to swim (one of our favorite family pastimes), but also an opportunity to serve.
Photos from their lake clean-up.
You know how it is, though. Reality is a cruel master. We watched helplessly as the days and weeks slipped by, and then it was too cold for our excursion. We modified our plans and created holiday cards and a treat box for soldiers instead. DeAnn took some great photos of my kids, and we were so happy to have been a small part of SIP.
Fast forward to about mid-July. My daughter, Carly, was getting ready to turn 7 and she decided to write up her birthday list. The list had all the normal kind of items you'd expect: Barbie dolls, clothes, shoes, Squinkies. But, then it also had an unexpected item: a family picture. For a lot of reasons, we have not taken a formal family picture since my son was a baby. So, that's 14 years if you're trying to keep track. My daughter simply wanted to be in a family picture. Talk about a guilty feeling, but setting that aside - I knew I needed to get in touch with DeAnn asap. Thinking about our next service project, it only seemed right that we resurrect our original idea and when my daughter requested a trip to the lake for a swim - well, the stars just aligned and off we went.
Preparation wise, a project could not be simpler than doing a clean up somewhere. For our prep, we packed a picnic dinner, threw on some swim suits (except for me, I had a cold), grabbed some towels and trash bags, filled the gas tank, and set out. The lake is about an hour from our house, and we went out on a Monday night. Apparently there isn't a lot happening at the lake on Monday night. We were basically alone there (which was pretty fantastic actually). We walked down to the shore picking up trash as we went. The kids and their dad got in the nice cool water while I walked around gathering more trash. About 30 minutes later, I was a big puddle of melting goo so I walked back up to our car with my daughter, collecting trash as we went. Down to the shore and back filled a whole trash bag - and we weren't even trying hard! My son and husband swam for about 30 more minutes while Carly and I sat in the car and ate cherries. (It's a rough life.) Then, we set off together in the car just driving around the picnic and camp areas collecting trash. We would ride in the car until someone spotted some trash, then get out and collect as much as we could find. Within about an hour we had collected 2 more bags of trash from the camp and picnic sites. Bags full, we sat down for a picnic dinner and enjoyed the sunset.
As far as service projects go, I don't think you could get easier or more stress-free. We spent about hours collecting trash and 2 hours travelling. Swimming before working (which wasn't the plan but that's the beauty of an unstructured project, right?) really cooled everyone off so that the heat wasn't a big deal. The kids definitely warmed up to the project once they were outside exploring/looking for trash. They also seemed to become more aware of their surroundings as we walked the picnic and camp sites. Some of the items people left behind were pretty strange - everything from cans to a stray flip-flop, to a Cheetos bag, to a tank top, and a broken snorkel. At first, the kids didn't look much beyond their own feet, but in no time they were scampering under trees and finding trash I missed when I went by. In the car and during dinner we talked about why we shouldn't litter, why we should help keep the lake clean, and how we felt completing the project. We really tried to emphasize, without being preachy, the importance of taking care of the Earth and not being careless with our surroundings. We plan to take and fill trash bags on all our future visits."
So happy to have this up on the blog...finally! Hope you were inspired friends!
All my love,