One of the perks of my new calling in the Young Men’s organisation is the chance to get outdoors with the youth. This year there was multi-stake regional Young Men’s camp held at Fundy National Park, in New Brunswick (Canada). As a leader of a very small group, we only have four youth total and two attended, I was able to spend a lot of time as a casual observer of the whole event and of the beautiful surroundings.
The park consists of 80 square miles of wooded wilderness along the Bay of Fundy and was a frequent family holiday spot for me growing up. The Bay of Fundy is noted as having the highest tides in the world, with the water level alternately rising and falling up to 55 feet every six hours. This remarkable tide results in the moving of about 115 billion tonnes of water in and out of the bay four times a day, resulting in some magnificent natural features and a waterfall that falls up and down.
With record temperatures this summer, the boys were keen to spend as much time as possible in the water. On the first day, we hiked to Laverty Falls and spent the afternoon at a swimming hole down river. On the second day we spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon canoeing on a lake.
As I sat on the beach with the tide hurrying in and with my back toward numerous lakes, streams and rivers, I thought about how water scarcity is unknown in this corner of the world. I began to contrast my present situation with my experience serving as a missionary in a small Idaho town. I recalled the constant refrain of prayers for ‘moisture’, the miles of weedy irrigation ditches that ran through the brown valley like green blood vessels and the stories of Bishops being called in to settle water turn disputes. In the desert, the correlation between water and life is made explicit. In our cool coastal climate the relationship is less visible, but no less vital.
With all water falling from the sky and eventually returning to the sea, it is humanity’s shared stewardship. As a child in the 1980s I recall the government dump trucks unloading tons of lime into our dead lakes to counteract the effects of acid rain. The lakes had become acidified from coal burnt in the steel belt a thousand miles south-west in the USA. Today the lakes have recovered and are filled with fish and other wildlife as a result of a bilateral treaty signed in 1991, with the understanding that water quality was a universal issue.
This year our young men are starting their Scouting program with a stream bed clean up arranged through the local government. The secondary purpose of this clean up will be to raise the boys’ awareness of local water quality. Especially in terms of how the choices they make effect our shared water supply. Anyone out there have any experience in teaching water stewardship to Scouts?