By nature I am not much of a camper.
Most of the camping I have done has been in the summertime, when worrying about staying warm to make it through the night isn’t given a second thought.
That’s not the case for Peter Larson.
Larson, 15, hails from Plymouth, Minn. If you’ve ever lived in Minnesota – which I did briefly – you know brutal the winters can be. If you haven’t, it’s safe to say the state’s reputation as the opposite of Florida for a January vacation is well-known.
While still in early elementary school Larson paid close attention to a presentation to his Cub Scout pack about the needs of the homeless in the community. At that point, it would have been laudable if Larson had helped organize a canned food drive for a local shelter.
He has gone beyond that to a degree many adults couldn’t fathom for themselves.
When hearing about the plight of homeless, Larson attracted attention by sleeping outside in a box during the dead of winter to draw funds to support the local Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners.
He has been doing this now going on nine years.
His first year out in the cold he set a $500 goal. He reached it.
Last year, after consistently upping the amount over time, the goal was $30,000. Larson raised $50,000.
Over the duration of this annual project Larson has raised slightly more than $190,000.
With no hesitation I joined the other folks at the National Gathering of United Methodist Men in Nashville, Tenn., last weekend giving Larson a lengthy standing ovation when he was presented with the UMM’s Good Samaritan award.
Teens like Larson and Mike Durbin of Whitehouse, Texas, who recently walked 500 miles to raise awareness and funds for an Assemblies of God outreach ministry can’t be praised enough.
They set an example we as adults, campers and non-campers alike, can and should learn from about effectively sharing Christian values.