This past summer Widji Staff and Campers had to resist the temptation to go running through the lush green grass that was growing in to fill in Widji’s newly refurbished Athletic Field. For years the “A-Field” was a slightly hazardous open space for Staff and Campers to play large open field games. Originally a cedar swamp, the A-Field always had drainage issues which resulted in a mix of puddles and gravel. It was often a site of too many incidents with overly ambitious play and poor field conditions.
All that changed this past summer. With a generous gift from Jim and Julia Adams in memory of their son James, the A-Field has undergone a dramatic and necessary improvement. James Adams spent five summers playing games and learning leadership skills on the A-Field before each of his wilderness trips. After completing a Voyageur trip in 2014 James started school at Carlton College and joined the Ultimate Frisbee team. On February 24, 2014 James’s life was cut way too short when he died in a tragic automobile accident while traveling with his team to Stanford College for an invitational tournament. The refurbishment of Widji’s A-Field is a way to honor and keep James’s memory alive.
The refurbishment of the field started with “crowning” the field to help with water drainage. Work was then done to improve the culverts and drainage rock around the field. Seed and straw was then laid down in early June. As luck would have it, a torrential downpour of rain occurred the night after the seed was planted. However, with the good work of Joe Smith and the contractors from Ely, much of the field was saved. Then came the long work of literally watching the grass grow.
This past October at the Widji Board & Staff retreat we officially opened the Athletic Field. We had a moment of recognition of James and the Adams family and then brought down the orange fencing. The first official game that occurred on the new field was the 100 Yard Scream! Kids, staff, and board members all enthusiastically participated!
The A-Field is currently under a thin blanket of snow. It will serve to help kids learn to cross country ski and snowshoe. Come spring we’ll welcome the green grass back and look forward to being back on the A-Field! There will also be a plaque mounted on a rock near the Field that will read:
“Time goes by quickly… live each day to the fullest – No regrets.”
James Patrick Adams
-Matt Poppleton, Executive Director