Things We Support: Grand Canyon Warriors

Lee taking some time to reflect and sketch in the Grand Canyon. 

Lee taking some time to reflect and sketch in the Grand Canyon. 

As many of you may know, Lee (aka Mom) and her husband Joe are AVID river runners. They began rafting in 1992 and have never looked back. They love the rivers of the southwest, and their real love is the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. They have run in with friends family, a one boat solo winter trip, and Joe even works for a commercial river company (Tour West) during the summer leading trips. 

The Grand Canyon is a awe inspiring, challenging, teaching place no matter how you experience. But to spend several weeks traveling from start to finish, living on the river without phones, computers, etc. is fairly transformative. That's why, when we heard about Grand Canyon Warriors, we knew we had to help. 

Grand Canyon Warriors is an amazing trip being sponsored by members of the Grand Canyon River Runners Association; and it's purpose is provide a Grand Canyon rafting trip for active duty wounded warriors.

Their site says:

"Brave Americans in the prime of their lives, physically strong and mentally tough, left their homes and answered the call to duty. Far too many of them have returned home from combat physically disabled and mentally scarred. These “Wounded Warriors” face a long and sometimes lonely period of recovery and readjustment. As they heal and learn to cope with their disabilities they need our support and reassurance. Each of our armed services has established special units for recovering warriors where wounded service members learn to use artificial limbs, navigate without sight, or cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. These brave Americans all need our help, and the Grand Canyon River Runners believe we know a perfect way to provide it. The Grand Canyon River Runners Association is a non-profit group that works to preserve public access to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. All of our members have experienced the challenges and enjoyed the wonders of a trip through the heart of America’s most famous National Park. Many of them have described the trip as a “life-changing” experience. We believe that this is exactly what the trip will be for our wounded warriors".

They are taking their first trip this year, and will be providing this experience for 25 U.S. Marines--covering the cost of their trip, all meals, transportation as well as specific equipment and military medical personal they will need to make this trip possible. Grand Canyon River Runners is a non-profit organization, and they are looking for donations to help make this trip a reality for these very deserving Marines. Their fundraising effort is not affiliated with any other charitable organization using the name ‘Wounded Warrior,” and 100% of all proceeds will go towards trip costs. We are proud to support this organization, and you better believe each of those Marines will have their own jar of Mom's Stuff to keep their skin in good working condition on the trip. 

Please consider supporting this trip, and these most deserving veterans, with a tax-deductible contribution:

On-Line at: www.gcriverrunners.org

Or mail a check to: GCRRA Grand Canyon Warriors Trip P.O. Box 20013 Sedona, AZ 86341-20013

If a group or organization would like to assist with our fundraising efforts, they can sponsor a veteran for $3500.

Please direct inquiries to: Hank Detering HankD461@aol.com 610-869-3631

Posted on April 6, 2015 .

Things We Love: Birch Creek Service Ranch

Do you have kids? Grandkids? Nieces, nephews, siblings, neighbor kids ages 12 - 15? If you do, let me tell you about THE BEST summer experience you can give them . . . Birch Creek Service Ranch. This is something that we LOVE and that has had a huge impact on generations of young people. 

The Motto of the Ranch:
Learn to like what doesn’t cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.
Learn to like people, even though some of them may be different...different from you.
Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction doing your job as well as it can be done.
Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.
Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.
— Lowell C. Bennion

Birch Creek Service Ranch (BCSR) is a summer camp unlike any other. It is based off of the Bennion Teton Boys Ranch (BTBR), which was started by Lowell Bennion back in 1963 in Victor Idaho. Lowell started the ranch in an effort to give his city born sons the same opportunities to learn to do hard physical work that he had had growing up on a farm. He felt learning to work hard with your hands, and to do service, are crucial aspects to a young person's character formation. His program was not a reform, or punitive program, but something to help good kids become even better. Birch Creek Service Ranch was founded in 2003 by Eric Peterson, and Adam Batemen. Both men had grown up going to the BTBR and working as counselors as they got older, and they decided there was a need for more programs like BTBR. Only two years after BCSR began, the Bennion Boy's Ranch shut down, leaving BCSR the surviving branch of Lowell's amazing vision. 

The basic structure is that the kids come for three weeks and every morning spend 4-5 hours doing physical work. This work is 75% - 80% service for people in the local farming community. The jobs range from bucking bales (bringing in a crop of hay for you non-farmers), putting up fence, cleaning out an old barn, weeding a garden, to chopping down thistles or clearing trail for the local forest service. Over the year 100,000's of service hours have been given freely by many many hands. After lunch, the campers participate in a variety of afternoon activities like swimming at a lake, mountain biking, rock climbing, arts and crafts, horse back riding, etc. Evenings are filled with guest speakers, philosophical debates, talent shows, songs around a campfire and other enriching experiences. Each weekend the counselors lead the campers on overnight backpacking trips into local mountains, and canyons learning back country skills and increasing their love of the outdoors.  They work hard, play hard, make deep friendships, connect with nature, experience the joy of service, read, discuss, and much more. 

To see LOTS more photos check out BCSR Facebook Page

I became involved that first year as the cook, and continued working for 9 consecutive summers. Pretty quickly I realized that this is something that needed to be offered you young girls, not just boys, and I started the BCSR girl's session in 2006. In addition, I pursued a Master's Degree in Youth and Family Recreation, and for my thesis conducted a qualitative study on the perceived outcomes of attending the ranch from both parent and camper perspectives. My findings were unanimous. It was the work, not all the fun activities, that made this such a meaningful activity for these kids. Campers talked about how learning that they could accomplish difficult tasks using their own two hands gave them an efficacy that translated to many other aspects of their life after the ranch (like schoolwork, a hard job, etc.). They talked about how after spending three weeks in constant service they started to recognize more opportunities in their own neighborhoods and felt empowered to do something about the needs they saw. The parents commented on the change in attitude they observed as their kids came home and no longer complained about emptying the dishwasher (that's way easier than cleaning out a chicken coop for four hours!), and had new patience and appreciation for siblings. 

What I love most about the ranch is it is a space where young people get to develop in pivotal ways at a pivotal age. The kids don't have cell phones, computers, tablets, or other technology for the three week (although of course they can call home). There is no T.V. or game counsel at the ranch. Instead they learn to work hard, to serve continually, to communicate (we talk a LOT during work crew, long hikes, van rides, meals), to commune with nature, to be quiet, and to PLAY. Without all the distractions and fear of rejection they let loose and really become kids again. They get dirty and don't care, they are silly, thoughtful, sensitive, they are themselves. It's a loving, family like community, and everyone finds a place there. 

So if you have a boy or girl ages 12 - 15 in your life that you think would enjoy/benefit from Birch Creek Service Ranch, please visit their website where you can fill out the application. You can also direct message me with more questions.  


THE 2015 DATES ARE:

Session 1: Boys (12-15 year old boys): June 15 - July 8 The cost is $1,500 per session.

Session 2: Boys (12-15 year old boys): July 13 - August 5 The cost is $1,500 per session.

Session 3: Girls (12-15 year old girls): August 7 - August 16 The cost is $750  


BCSR is a place where Mom's Stuff get's used daily, well really hourly! From blisters on hands, to cuts and scrapes, sunburns, and more, the campers usually go through a jar a session. One year for an afternoon activity the kids wanted to make a film, and decided to do an infomercial for Mom's Stuff. So if you want a hearty laugh, watch this gem. Also please note, none of the miracle claims made in this film are real. ;)

Posted on March 13, 2015 .

Mom's Stuff Family: Christa Sadler

Hello all! Welcome to a new blog feature we are really excited about, Mom's Stuff Family! As you probably know, Lee originally made Mom's Stuff Salve® just for our family, but slowly friends and family pressured her into selling. Still today we feel like our customers are family. We make it to help people live happy lives and we love learning how it's helping you. So we wanted to start featuring some of our great 'family' members, and who better to start with than a woman who has been using Mom's Stuff back when it was just for family, and who we think may have even been the person to coin the name "Mom's Stuff"; Christa Sadler

christa_lava.jpeg

Christa is hands down AMAZING. It's a little daunting to try to write in one post all the phenomenal things she's done in her life and has/is doing for others. Christa is all heart.

Lee & Joe first met her on the Grand Canyon on a rafting trip MANY years ago, and she quickly became an adopted part of the Bennion family. Over the years we have logged countless miles on rivers and in canyons with her, and spent numerous hours, holidays, and trips laughing, singing, sharing, crying and loving each other.

Christa is a brilliant geologist, world class outdoor guide (rafting/hiking/sea kayaking/etc.), a founder of the non-profit organization ONE that helps educate and empower women in impoverished countries, a gifted teacher, a great story teller and author of several books, a community builder, an outdoor medic, beautiful singer, world traveller, a cat lover, and so much more.  So, without further ado, I give Christa, in her own words, be ready to be inspired: 

Q: Where are you from?

A: Originally from California. I live in Flagstaff, Arizona now, where I have been since 1987.

Q: What has your career path been? 

A: Non-traditional :) I’ve never been good at doing only one thing, or sitting in one place or inside for very long. So I have looked for things that get me outdoors, help me keep learning, keep me interested, allow me to be with people and hopefully offer something to the world. Everything I do has an educational component to it, whether it’s my guiding, teaching or writing. 

Q: What is you favorite place in the world? 

A: Grand Canyon, southern Utah, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, Alaska and the Yukon. Sorry! I don’t have only one favorite place :)

Q: How did you get into guiding? 

A: I was invited to join my boyfriend’s (at the time) family on a 6-day river trip through Grand Canyon on motor rigs (30 foot long motorized pontoon boats) back in 1985. I was 23 and that was it. I was completely head over heels in love (with the canyon, not with him), and wanted to be in the Grand Canyon, rowing on that river,  all the time. When I could finally look up and see a larger world outside the Grand Canyon, that led me into guiding in other places and in other ways (hiking, sea kayaking, etc.). 

Q: Where have you guided? 

A: Oregon and northern California, Grand Canyon, southern Utah and the San Juan River, southern Arizona, Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers in the Yukon and southeast Alaska, Alaskan Arctic, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, Glacier Bay, AK.

Q: What is your educational background? 

A: I have a bachelors in anthropology from UC Berkeley and a mMasters in Earth Sciences from Northern Arizona University. And then there’s my wilderness guiding and my writing, which basically keep me in ‘school' all the time.

Q: How do you use Mom's Stuff? How does it help? Any 'miracle' stories? 

A: I use Mom’s Stuff on the river, on backpack trips and sea kayak trips, and then just for everyday use in the winter here in Flagstaff. It’s super dry here, and my hands get really cracked in the winter. On the river, I will put Mom’s Stuff on my hands and then put on my gloves to row. It’s a great way to not have my hands be destroyed by the end of a trip. Seriously, my hands used to be a mass of cracks by the end of a trip, especially in Alaska, and with Mom’s Stuff and gloves, they will actually survive! 

Miracle story: OK, this just happened recently. I got a bite, probably from a spider, on the back of my hand. Of course I was a classic river guide and ignored it until it was very infected and moving up my arm and I had a fever. Duh. So I got on antibiotics and it got better. But even though the infection was gone, there was a big circular area of raw, red, dead, ulcerous skin (sorry, kind of gross I know). I started putting Mom’s Stuff on it all the time. My doctor was horrified: “That’s not sterile!”I told him that natives have been using pinyon sap for hundreds of years and they aren’t dying of infections all the time! Anyway, nothing else worked but Mom’s Stuff. When I used regular cream or even antibiotic ointment, it didn’t heal. Now, I’m looking at it, and it’s almost completely gone! And people no longer stare in horror at my hand when they see it.  

Q: What is ONE? When did you start it? 

A: We started in March of 2011. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities and support to young women in need from developing nations, in order that they might contribute to the welfare of their families and their communities.

Q: What inspired you to start ONE?

A: I was working with a project in Nicaragua building houses, and we were working on one house where the 13 year old granddaughter was helping us. I really wanted to do something to help her; she was really bright and helpful. Her mother had had her when she was 15 years old, and her grandmother had her mother when she was 15 too. I just saw this beautiful girl and saw her future: a baby at 15, another a couple years later, etc. So I asked a friend in town about English lessons for Ana (the girl). She recommended that I pay for her to to go the private school in town, where she would get a better education and be with people more serious about studying and their futures. Total cost would be about $350 for the year. But she warned me not to tell them I was paying personally and tell them instead that I was from a foundation that gave scholarships. So I did, and then I thought, “Well, why NOT start a foundation?” My education has been so important to me, and I realize that my life is the result of it. I also realize that women in most countries are at the bottom of the ladder, and mostly they just end up pregnant and poor. Yet much research has shown that educating women in these countries will raise the per capita income and health levels, lower population levels, decrease violence, and have an enormously important and far-reaching effect on their families and the country.

Q: What have you learned from starting ONE

A: Oh boy. A lot! I’ve learned a lot about the plight of women in this world, in terms of education or lack thereof. I’ve learned it’s much easier to ask for and receive money than to give it away in a way that is helpful and will have the best results. I’ve learned that there is the type of poverty that believes things should be given to them, and there is the type of poverty that is grateful for help and will work hard to get what they can in life. I’ve learned how important family support and buy-in is to a child’s education, especially a girl. I’ve learned that keeping an organization small and personal is better than growing enormous and overdoing it too quickly. I’ve learned that Americans are incredibly generous people who want to help in the world where they can. I’ve learned a little Kiswahili and Luganda, lots more Spanish, and how to read letters written by 8 year olds who don’t speak English all that well. And I’ve learned (once again) that I don’t know everything and other people have really good ideas that I should listen to.

Q: In all of your world travel and guiding, what is the craziest situation you've found yourself in? 

A: Hmm. That is a question that might require many hours to answer; there have been many crazy situations in my life: climbing down cliffs at night, driving a zodiac with about 250 false killer whales surfing and blowing around me, sitting in the middle of a feeding frenzy in the Sea of Cortez with a gazillion birds diving, humpback whale blowing, sea lions leaping, dolphins squeaking . . . But what comes to mind is a hike I did with a friend about 4 years ago. Better settle in, this is a long story :) We were in Haines, AK for a river trip, and we had a couple days to spare. So we went up the highway into British Columbia to do a day hike. We camped out and then started in on the hike. I had heard of a way to circumnavigate the mountain near us and I thought that would be fun. We went down the valley, headed over to the glacier to hang out for a while and then discovered that we had lost the map somewhere along the way. Should we turn back and head back the way we came, or should we continue on up the other valley in front of  us, which was going in approximately the right direction? Well, we decided to keep going because, well, why wouldn’t you? We crossed the glacier and several glacial streams (topping over our boots in the process - did I mention we were doing this hike in knee high rubber boots?) and kept going. The glacial outflow stream to our left got bigger and bigger and we realized that we would not ever be able to cross it, so we hoped we were on the right side! It was pretty soon a huge rushing river and our route (not a trail, never a trail) was being hemmed in by the canyon wall on one side and this rushing glacial river on the other. It rained. Of course. The rain quit, but we were nowhere within site of the highway and the day was wearing on. We finally took a break on the little ledge of rock next to this roaring gnashing river with a big black spruce forest at our backs. It wasn’t quite “dark” but at midnight it was dark enough that charging into a spruce forest in bear country without great light didn’t seem like a good idea. So we lit a teeny fire with spruce needles and rested for an hour, until it started to get light enough to really see. We kept going along the cliff on the river’s edge. Finally the river veered off and the bank got wider and wider. Pretty soon we were stumbling our way through a boggy, Arctic willow patch several miles wide. Did you know that Arctic willows have trunks like flexible iron and are perfectly designed to trip you up since they are knee high, and they grow all tangled together? Again, we sank in over our boot tops, over and over, but we looked ahead of us, and saw a single car in the distance, zooming along the two-lane highway. We were almost there! I’ve never been so happy to see a car in my life! However, we still had one more obstacle. We pushed through the willows to find ourselves face to face with a river across our path, which we would have to cross to get to the highway. It was moving pretty fast, and had been snow just a few hours before. It was about 100 feet across, which is just about a long enough distance to get completely hypothermic lost your ability to move and get washed downstream. But, we had to do it, so we took off our clothes and wrapped them in our daypacks on top of our heads and waded in. Luckily, it came up to my friend’s chest, and my shoulders, but we could still wade. The current was super strong, and we got swept a little downstream but we made it out just fine. Covered with mosquito bites and extremely cold, but fine :) Another half mile and we were on the blacktop with our thumbs out. The Haines Highway is not heavily used, and it was about 7:30 in the morning, so there wasn’t a lot of traffic. The first car by was a two-seater sports car, but she was willing to sit my soggy self down in the passenger seat and drive me back 14 miles to the car.  I headed back up the highway and picked up my friend.  Total miles: about 22. Total hours: 23.5. A true “day hike!” When we told friends back in Haines what we did they all said, “Oh that’s a great THREE or FOUR day hike!” Would I do it again? In a heartbeat :) In fact, I think I know the ‘right’ way to do it now.

Thank you Christa for sharing! If you are interested in donating to help girls in underprivileged countries get education, please check out the ONE website today!

Posted on February 23, 2015 and filed under Mom's Stuff Family.