At the start of a rafting trip on the Gulkana River.
Copper River Float Ministry (CRFM) is mens’ ministry Alaska style. CRFM has 18 committed ministry partners who work together on leading float trips. Every year, during the first 3 weeks of June. different churches sponsor a float trip for their men. To sponsor a trip the church must have minimum of 25 men, with a maximum of 35 (or boys 16 years old or above can also be included). The trip is 2 days and 1 night on a beautiful stream in Alaska where the King salmon are running. CRFM provides; the rafts, oarsman’s, life jackets, tents, kitchen facilities, and three meals.
This awesome trip starts at the "pull out”at the bridge on the Gulkana river, Friday morning when all the men from the church arrive, a bus will take you from the parking area to the Poplar Grove. You will bring your gear down the trail to the river. Team CRFM will have the rafts and equiptment already there and loaded on the rafts. Once your gear and men are loaded in the rafts, we start floating down the river and fishing for Grayling from the rafts. The men have packed a lunch to eat as they float down river. Friday evening we pull out on a sand bar and CRFM team sets up camp (with the help of the other men) and cooks dinner. For dinner we cook Cajun blackened salmon over the campfire, while others work of Cajun rice. Cole slaw and dinner rolls are also provided.
After dinner we have a speaker share a message from God’s word. We have found this is an incredible time for God’s word to work in the men’s heart. We put men in a man’s environment then give him God’s word, and it seems to sink in better. Then the men are challenged to spend sometime thinking about the message for 15 to 20 minutes before going fishing that evening. We have seen many times where men have spent much longer time meditating and praying with someone about a need in their lives. This is what excites the CRFM team, to see God’s word effect lives in a tremendous way. The men then have all evening to fish for king salmon, or hang around the campfire and visit.
Saturday morning starts with a big breakfast, of "pan omelets" (a scrambled egg dish with of peppers, cheese, sausages, mushrooms etc.) Hashbrowns and English muffins. After breakfast we listen to the second message from our guest speaker. Then we break camp and load the boats, while some men will try to get in extra fishing time. When everything is loaded we will float down the river to other fishing holes. At lunch time we pull out at a peaceful, remote campsite. CRFM team’s wives are at the camp with a hot lunch for the men. Afterwards we will enjoy the last message from the guest speaker. With some reluctance we all get back into the rafts for our final float to the “pull out” spot. Team CRFM with the help of the men, will load all the rafts and gear and say good bye to the men are. CRFM makes every effort to be off the river by 5:00 pm so that everyone will be able to make it to church on Sunday.
Are they always Christian men on the trips? No, CRFM encourages the men's' group with “if you have a man from your work, or your neighbor that you can’t get to church, bring him fishing and we will bring church to him.” Many of the trips we have men that don’t go to church anywhere, or have left church a long time ago.
What makes 18 (or more) men give up their 3 weekends in a row during the King Salmon season to take all these men on trips like this? It certainly isn't for relaxation, because the men of Team CRFM work very hard to make these trips such a success. It also isn't to go fishing since most times the team doesn't get to do much fishing. To be a ministry partner with Copper River Float Ministry you must have a goal to see God’s word challenge and change men to what God wants them to be. Our team members are men who are very committed to men’s ministry. These guys will work tirelessly to make this a trip that will be remembered for a long time-and hopefully a trip that encouraged their faith and challenged to live for their savior.