Spokes and SpanishMembers of the Colombian Youth Soccer Team, organized through Primavera Camping Tours, visited Carlton last week during their American travels for a scenic bike trip.
By: Luke Heine, Pine Journal
Bikes, flip-flops and Spanish-peppered discussions flavored Carlton’s streets last week.
Participants in the Colombian Youth Soccer Team, organized through Primavera Camping Tours, chose to visit Carlton during their American travels. Gathering from across the state, they visited Carlton Bike Rental and Repair for a scenic bike trip.
The tour, planned to highlight the beauty of Jay Cooke State Park, began at the bike shop between Chestnut Avenue and the Munger Bike Trail in Carlton, traveled over the Thomson Bridge, and then merged with the Munger Bike Trail, which the group followed to its destination at the Jay Cooke State Park visitor center.
Once at the center, park officials dispersed GPS units among the group and, through the use of 10-year-old Colombian translators, set up a round of geocaching involving boxes containing words such as “canoe” and “backpacking.”
Afterward, the group took pictures of the currently-under-construction swinging bridge, questioned the fate of the park’s towering trees detailed in historic photos, and pedaled back to Carlton where they enjoyed some refreshments before heading off to their next destination at Park Point and the University of Minnesota Duluth, where they played a friendly soccer game on the UMD field the following morning.
All in all, 97 kids utilized the bike shop’s bikes over three days. In order to meet demand, the bike shop put out a missive requesting bikes from local residents.
The response from the community was overwhelming.
“It was absolutely incredible,” said bike shop owner Joelene Steffens. “We even had to turn bikes away.”
Bikes rolled in, allowing an event of such magnitude to take place.
“It was truly a county-wide effort,” Steffens said. “We had everyone stepping up to make sure these kids were taken care of: the police department, the park rangers, even the mayor of Carlton directed traffic,” she said.
The efforts showed. Primavera Camping Tours Director Daniel Skilling said he was “overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.”
After, Steffens said the visit garnered high praise at the Schwann’s USA Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament this week in Blaine, Minn.
If you missed the chance to speak Spanish, learn about the beauty of Cartagena, and showcase our community while learning about another’s, no worries. According to Steffens, chances are good that another group of Colombians will visit again next year.
“We showed them Minnesota nice, and they loved it,” she said.