OTTER TAIL COUNTY, Minn. — In the middle of Pelican Lake on Tuesday, a group of teenagers who might otherwise never have the chance to go out on the water got to enjoy the perfect summer day.
It was thanks to a new charity in the region that has a pretty straightforward goal: bring kids to the lake and let them ski and tube the day away.
From above, it looked like the perfect July afternoon to be in the lake, with a blue sky, big boats and teenagers ready to surf and swim.
But it wasn't an ordinary day for the teens. Many of them are from mentoring programs, foster care or the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, from areas ranging from Fargo to Detroit Lakes.
The nation-wide organization "Wake the World" has served 3,000 young people since the group started in 2008 and is now active in 28 states.
Volunteers with the local Wake the World charity, organized by Dave and Jamie Swenson of Audubon, Minn., are now serving teens in Lakes Country and the Red River Valley who otherwise would not have the opportunity to be skiing and tubing on the lake.
For the volunteers, it's all about giving back. Boat volunteer Bob Schempp had a blast with his group of water athletes. He also saw a part of himself in them.
"I never dreamed I would be on a boat like this, (I) never had an opportunity and I'm blessed to have one now and blessed to be a part of this, Schempp said. "I never would have been able to do this when I was young.'
Now times are different for Schempp and he can return the favor.
"What would be the point of having (a boat) if I couldn't share?" he said. "I mean that sincerely, it's a lot more fun to share it than it is to use it by myself."