Take a river trip with Al Parker and Canoe Creations...

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AlParker:2  (Tim) Dear friends of ours, Al and Amy Parker, run a business called Canoe Creations that takes families, school groups, youth groups, and others into the wilds for a trip down creeks, streams, or rivers. You can go to them or they can travel to you and use a stream or river in your area. If you've never paddled a river with the Parkers, you haven't lived.

For many years, Al worked for Indiana's Department of Natural Resources reestablishing raptors in a number of areas--most particularly Bald Eagles in the Wabash River Valley. (He also put peregrine falcons i the tops of Chicago skyscrapers in an effort to control the pigeons.) Due partly to Al's efforts, Bald Eagles have made a comeback in this area and are now predators once again, as God made them to be. You know, "nature red in tooth and claw" and all that.

A couple months ago, Lawrence Howell and I were talking on his back deck when we saw a Bald Eagle land in one of the trees by his small pond he stocks with catfish. A week or two later, the catfish were gone, thank you very much. But back to Al and his river trips...

During the day, Al will tell you the name and character of every "critter" (as he calls them). Then, by night, he and Amy and their kids will strum and sing with you. And when you're done singing, if you're privileged, Al will call the owls to come on over--and they will!

Here's Al's description of why he does this work, taken from some publication whose identity I don't know. Hope you enjoy it. And if you're interested in having Al lead your group on a river trip, send him an e-mail and tell him Tim Bayly sent you. It will be a highlight of your life.

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Floating for FaithCanoe: Creation provides unique discipleship opportunities

by Al Parker

Al Parker gathers young Canoe Creation participants for a reflection on God's creation.

Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? -- St. Augustine 354-430 A.D.

Ever feel the fascination of a toad vibrating in your hand? Ever wander through lush spring flowers and feel like there really is hope? Ever wonder about not just the names of trees, but of their character? Ever sit alongside a stream and have cares of this world washed from you? Ever revel in the power of a storm because you know the One that made it? Ever think about spending some time in a quiet place the way Jesus did?

In my youth, I was fascinated with all things growing, flowing, and living in the wilds. I had this incredible thirst to know who they were. That desire took me to studies of wildlife and work with re-introducing endangered species. But it was not until I turned to Christ that I realized the joy I feel in the wilderness. God had used the created order of His world to reinforce His glory in my own heart. I began to see the Maker behind each living thing that I had learned to know like a friend. Hosea (4:3) tells us that animals are disappearing not because of...capitalism, or industrialism, or other "-isms"... but because "there is no acknowledgment of God in the land."

While watching a nest of eagles on a hillside awakening to spring, I realized that young people need time in nature to understand God the Creator. What better way to help them take hold of a faith in the Creator and Redeemer than to get them out in it? What better way to help them hold onto their faith than to help them see God in what surrounds them every day? Our family had spent most of our vacations on river trips and had often shared the experiences with friends and families.  We wondered, How can we make these river
experiences available to others?

Psalm 71:17 convicted me of a calling, "Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds." In 2006, our family began the nonprofit Canoe Creation, a mobile stream and natural area guide service that teaches participants about the character of God "through the things He has made" (Romans 1:20). Canoe Creation runs summer camps, river classes for schools, field and forest classes, youth group adventures, father-son trips, marriage retreats, field ecology classes for homeschoolers, and family vacation floats. You can find out more about this river-based, faith-growing mission at canoecreation.org