Youth on a Mission -- By Jacki Petrino

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Why go on a mission trip?

Because, when it is all said and done, our future is safe in the hands of the kids from St. Luke's and St. Paul's. What a great three days with 10 youth and 4 adults! We started out by meeting at Hearts and Horses in Loveland, Co. This amazing therapeutic riding center's mission is to promote the physical, cognitive, emotional and social well-being of people with special needs through equine-assisted therapy. At H&H we weeded, raked and planted the front areas and a memorial garden.

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The next day we left early to travel to RMNP where we learned about the Alluvial Fan area of the park. In this area, we worked with shovels digging up invasive weeds that overrun and work against the growth of the indigenous flora in the area. Afterward, the youth worked together to complete tasks and build community by working on a ropes course in Highlands Ranch.  That night we toasted marshmallows by an open fire and watched the sun set over the mountains. The next day we ended the trip with some amazing rock climbing and a hike to the hidden room, an amazing natural rock formation on the grounds of the Highlands Ranch Presbyterian Retreat Center.

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It was amazing to see this group of kids work together, problem solve, compromise and have fun in the midst of some hard, dirty and hot work set in one of the most beautiful places on God's earth. Many thanks to the parent volunteers that also came -- trained as EMT providers and certified drivers as well as amazing leaders with patience love and laughter for these youth. We are blessed and the future is in good hands!

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