There is something about the interaction between young kids and burros that is enjoyable to watch. Maybe it’s because burros are smaller than horses and not as imposing or maybe it’s because of their calm, gentle demeanor but kids seem to connect well with burros. This past weekend I was able to see this first hand on my son’s Boy Scout camp out.
I brought along one of my burros (Sabina) to be used on a day hike into the Lost Creek Wilderness. After breakfast Saturday morning the boys gathered around Sabina as I gave them a quick history lesson of how burros helped build Colorado towns in the 1800’s. I also explained the difference between a donkey and a burro. Sabina was a rescued burro from the Grand Canyon area so I explained how the BLM captures them and offers them up for adoption. After I got off my soap box for why I prefer formally “wild” burros as pack animals I taught them how to properly saddle, load and balance the panniers. My son brought his mountain board to ride back down the trail so he and I showed the boys how to tie a diamond hitch to secure his board onto the sawbuck.
With the boy’s lunches, water and extra jackets loaded in the panniers, we headed up the trail for a 3-4 mile hike to the top of the Kenosha Mountains. As we got about a mile from tree-line we encountered a large section of blown down trees. They got so thick that there was no way I could get Sabina around it all without cutting our way through. Instead, we found a nice spot and decided to stop and have lunch. Sabina enjoyed several of the boy’s granola bars and some trail mix. We headed back down the trail and as we got closer to the trail-head I let some of the smaller boys take turns riding in the sawbuck. There were smiles all around. Sabina seemed to be enjoying all the attention as well.
That night at closing campfire I read a chapter from Joe Back’s “Horses, Hitches, and Rocky Trails”, entitled “Getting along with nature.” I thought this was a good way to end the day and the short reading fit well with how the Boy Scouts are taught to respect nature while getting the perspective of an old outfitter from the 1940’s. Hopefully, I planted the seed for a few future burro wranglers! In the words of one of the adult leaders, “It is a great day to be a Scout!”