The following is a story about DIRT that won first prize for a contest put on by Backcountry Experience, a gear store in Durango.  The author is 11-year-old Dylan McClain.  It’s a fun reminder to think like a kid…when life hands you dirt, make a mud pie.  (Thanks for sharing, Dylan.)

“When people think of dirt, they think of brown stuff in the earth. At least, that’s what comes to my mind at first. But after I did some thinking, I remembered that the San Juan River is full of dirt, wet dirt, mud. Last summer we bought a permit to r0w down the San Juan. We planned to be on the river for about eight days.  Several other families were planning to join us.  Most of them had kids my age.  When we first arrived I was surprised by how brown the water was.  It looked like the chocolate stream flowing through Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  I was ready to get dirty and have some fun. We were on our way down this chocolate mess!

We spent many days playing in the river and building in the sand.  On the fifth day when we stopped for lunch we saw a huge mud pit about twenty feet in diameter all around.  All of the kids, including me, jumped out of the raft and ran over to it. We stopped in front of it and started to dare people to g0 in first.  I didn’t care if I got dirty, so I ran and jumped into it.  The mud oozed all around me and soon it was up to my knees.  All of the other kids came to join me and the same thing happened to them.  We kept on playing in the mud, sinking lower and lower over time. Soon it was up to some of our chests. The parents yelled to us saying that it was time for lunch.  Bummer.  Then a thought popped into my mind, how was I going to get out?  The other kids started to wonder the same thing.  I struggled against the mud slowly I was able to get above the surface of the mud.  When I finally scrambled out, I was covered in the gooey mud.  That was the best way I could cover myself in wet dirt.

We kept going on, and on the last day at our camp we found another huge mud pit.  This mud pit was not very deep, probably about three inches deep. This one was about 60 feet long and 30 feet wide.  We ran out onto it, it was like an ice rink.  I was sliding all over the place. Everyone else was too.  I ran, stopped, and slid about five feet. Then I did a belly slide, gliding across the surface.  My best friend chucked a mud ball and hit me in the side.  It was on.  Soon everyone was hurling mud balls all over the place.  I dived and dodged, then threw a chunk of mud at no one in particular.  I did the same thing over and over and soon was covered in mud.  My hair had a big mud chunk in it and I was not able to see any of my skin below my chest.  Man, I was really dirty.  Around that same time everyone else decided that they had had enough too.  My little cousin had so much mud on his pants that they were falling down.  We all ran down to the river and washed ourselves for an hour.  When we were done we still had mud on our bodies somewhere.  That little war was the best of the best.  I would love to do that again.

Dirt can be tons of fun if you just add water and make mud.  The San Juan River is one of the best places to do just that.  Hopefully, this year I will be able to experience that wet dirt again, and maybe have even more fun.  We all can love dirt, although it might not be in the same way.  You could garden, dirt bike, go to the beach and make sand castles.  Anyway you play with dirt, it can be fun.  It is just how you plan to use it.”

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