• Kurt J. Kolka

Cadets clean up river after race

By Kurt J. Kolka


GRAYLING – An area church group is helping keep the AuSable River clean for years to come.

The Cadets of Friendship Church in Gaylord have been coming down to Grayling the last several years to help keep the AuSable River trashless after its busiest weekend of the year, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.


The Rev. Steve Datema notes it is part of the responsibility they have as Christians. In Genesis chapter two (the Bible), God ordered the first humans, Adam and Eve, to care for the earth and its creatures. It is a command Datema feels is meant to be taken seriously.


“The earth is our home. We need to take care of it,” says Datema. Care for the earth is one of many lessons from the Bible Datema and other volunteers work on with the Cadets, a group of boys ages 6-12.


“I think it's great!” says Cheri Hunter, owner of Brocher's Canoe Livery in Grayling, from whom the Cadets rent their canoes for this clean-up job. “I think it's great for for kids to know we have to protect our natural resources. Bad behavior from some people has consequences which affect us all. They are tending to this and cleaning up behind them.


“The river is cleaner now than it used to be, but we still need to tend to it. I think it is just great these boys are getting out there and doing that.”


“We mostly find beer cans and water bottles,” says Cadet Chance Nowak of Gaylord, 12, who has done the river clean up for about seven years. “Today we found a tarp. We've found tires before. It's pretty crazy the stuff we find.”


Andrew Gust, an adult volunteer, backs up Chance's statement with a laugh. “Lots of beer cans. It appears Bud Light is the most popular brand of canoe race followers.” “My favorite part is getting wet and cleaning up the environment,”


Cadet Dale Gust, age 11. His grandfather is Doug Gillin, who has paddled in the marathon numerous times. The Cadets make a day of it. They take breaks in their clean-up effort to play and swim on their journey from Borcher's to Burton's Landing also. Friendship Church also offers a club for girls of the same age called Girls Everywhere Meeting their Savior (GEMS).

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