We had decided to float the Flint River as one of our summer camp activities.  The formula would include 25 or so people and roughly 10-12 canoes.  Add into the fact that my track record with water craft includes two very serious boat wrecks…and I decided to ask for a guide.  My “go to” on this trip was Hunter Pinkerton.  This young man grew up in our youth program and is an avid outdoorsman.  He agreed to take time off work and be our lead boat.  I would be last and “sweep” the river.

As our adventure began, I noticed Hunter loading (and if you know Hunter then you know “loading” has several meanings) his kayak.  He strapped a tanned, digital patterned MOLLE pack to the top of his kayak and launched out into the gentle current of the Flint River.

Within a few turns of the river we had our first thump.  Hunter beached his boat and waded out into the river for the recovery.  This would be the first of many such efforts for Hunter.  He and Zach Hawkins spent as much time in the river as they did in boats.  I saw him standing chest deep hand guiding the flotilla through the parts that were most difficult navigate.  At one bend a canoe got pinned to a tree and the current swept over the back making the canoe stand up and fill with water.  Water weighs 8 pounds a gallon and I have no way to figure the pressure of a flowing river which pinned the boat to the tree roots, bank and bottom.  Hunter dove under the current and attached my rope to the sunken end of the canoe and we pulled it out.  This was his day.  Guide a while, rescue a while.

Finally, we go to our extraction point.  I asked him to let me get out of the water before he did.  When I explained that it was my philosophy and motto to be “First one in.  Last one out.”  and that I thought it apropos for him to be able to say that as our river guide, he was more than happy to acquiesce.

As I paddled by him it struck me.  That backpack.  The one attached to his kayak.  It was bone dry.  Hunter was soaking wet.  His shirt was thoroughly soaked.  His skin glistened.  He was soaked to the bone.  But his pack was dry…   He had negotiated the entire 3-hour trip and his kayak had remained upright.  No spills, no thumps, no bobbles, no mistakes; but he was soaking wet.  He’d gotten wet, soaked actually and didn’t have to.  He chose to.  He got in the water for our sakes.  He got in the water to clean up our mistakes, to empty our filling boats, right our capsized crafts and free those who were trapped.  He paid the price when we made mistakes.  His soaking body was because of our failure.  He freely and gladly got in the water when he didn’t have to and it wasn’t his fault.  Do I really have to draw out the specific parallel here? Read Isaiah 53.

– Edited from an article by:
Lonnie Jones