An account of a Riverside Ranger

I want to share a key moment with you that I experienced at the Riverside Treesure Hunt. For those who couldn’t make it, the Treesure hunt was an adventurous quest through the forest, where several father-son teams embarked on a scavenger hunt for trees at the Morton Arboretum. As the “navigator” my role was to follow a team and be an impartial guide in case they wandered too far off the trail.

We were on our last clue. Benedict, a compact 5th grader with fiery eyes, led the way. We started a swift trot back to the finish line, while the dads straddled behind. His dad tried to give him a sandwich, but after one bite, he gave it back.

Just then, I received a text from Peter, the head Ranger, that the hunt was over – we already had a winner. It crossed my mind: should I tell Benedict?

I looked up from my phone, and saw a fighting hope in his eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to say it! For reasons still unbeknownst to me, I instead mustered all my energy and said “C’mon! We can still win! Let’s keep going!” My heart broke a little as I said it.

Benedict gave me no time to feel sorry for myself. I soon found myself blazing off trail to the finish line, in the wake of his path. Twigs crunched beneath his size 6 sneakers. Boy, was this kid was in shape!

But when I got to the finish line, he was nowhere to be found. He was sprinting around the nearby garden maze, looking for us.

“Benedict, we’re over here!”


He sprinted to the fore…his face red as a beet…he was almost hyperventilating. Peter calmly stooped over and reviewed the answer-sheet, before telling him we came in 4th place.

There I was, watching from behind another dad. Why couldn’t I just tell him earlier, that we lost? But in that moment, it was I who learned my lesson. He didn’t complain or grow angry. Instead, he simply plopped back down next to his dad, and pulled out his little water bottle, with his head held high, and enjoyed a good rest after an adventure.


Author Stephen

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