Lighting the Way Hike Brings UMC Youth and College Groups Closer to Nature

March 1, 2020

What a great day for a hike! For our second Lighting the Way activity, we gathered the youth groups of Saint Paul’s UMC and New Life UMC along with FAMU Wesley UMC college group making a pack of 35 students and 10 adults at the Lafayette Heritage Trail in Tallahassee.

Our Saint Paul’s UMC Creation Care team has secured a $10,000 grant from UMCOR and United Methodist Earthkeepers to integrate our communities and bring us closer together through God’s creation. The year long project will bring FAMU Wesley and New Life UMC, and SPUMC Youth Group students together for nature outings like hikes, paddling trips, and lake clean ups; provide funds to upgrade the outdoor lighting at both facilities; create “turn off the lights” reminder cards; and more.

The weather was perfect for our hike! We started with a snack of sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies and gave out some upcycled reusable water bottles for anyone needing one. Then we split up into five groups and each one received a Nature Bingo card and a pair of binoculars and the competition began to find objects in nature to fill the card. The trail led us up to a boardwalk and a covered bridge to a beautiful overlook, and then winded around into the forest and then out around the lake onto fingers jutting into the water.

We saw a red shouldered hawk eating a snake, a large turtle shell, lots of wild flowers, and water birds on the beautiful lake. We also met some friendly horses and their riders! We picked up trash and one of our leaders even pulled out some invasive plants. Our Creation Care leaders helped students learn how to use the binoculars and guided the groups along the trail. It was a two mile, 90 minute hike, and some of the students said they enjoyed it so much that they wished it was longer! Others were tired and ready for more snacks. When we returned to the parking lot three teams tied for first place in the bingo game and they won Saint Paul’s UMC metal water bottles. There were so many smiles and laughs throughout the afternoon and as we said goodbye, we looked forward to the next Lighting the Way activity that will bring us together again through Creation Care.

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