John Douglas of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota
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“John Douglas of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota,” Friend, June 1987, 22

Making Friends:

John Douglas of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota

When school was out last summer, John Douglas (11) and his neighborhood friends built a two-story tree fort in the woods behind the Douglas home in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. By sliding a couple of roof boards to one side, the children can see the sun peeking through the leafy treetops, and by popping their heads and shoulders up through the open space, they can observe the surrounding territory. The lower floor holds supplies for the fort’s occupants.

The oldest child of his family, John has two brothers, and two sisters—Karina (10), Destri (6), Nathan (4), and Naomi (2). John willingly shoulders responsibilities around his home, so when his dad, Mike Douglas, built a garage, John was there to help.

With the approach of cooler weather, John helps carry firewood to the house for the stove that heats their home during the winter. He also watches his young brothers while his dad and mother, Kathy Douglas, attend leadership meetings at the Detroit Lakes Branch, thirty miles away. Watching Nathan gives John the opportunity to help his little brother learn how to walk on a pair of crutches that his dad adapted to fit him. Nathan was born with spina bifida.

In the wintertime John and his dad and his brothers ice fish. Each winter they push the ice house out onto a frozen lake a few miles from John’s home. The ice house has a stove inside to keep them warm during blizzards and thirty-degree-below-zero (-34° C) temperatures. John says that the fish bite best at night and during blizzards. The ice house has three holes cut through the floor along two walls that are lined up with holes augered in the two-foot-thick (61-cm) ice. John likes to put his face down close to the holes and watch the fish swimming.

In the summertime John fishes with a rod and a net just below the rapids on the shallow Pelican River, which runs through downtown Pelican Rapids. Pelicans fish for tasty dinners in this same spot. Farther down the river John, Karina, and their friends like to swim in the waist-deep water.

A love for running motivates John to go out for track and to play flag football at school, where he is the only Latter-day Saint in his class. His dad is a coach and teacher at Pelican Rapids High School, and John and his family often travel with him to high school tournaments.

Scouting provides John with many activities that he enjoys. Last year he wrote in his journal about a fun visit that he made as a Webelo to a nearby retirement home where the boys played games with the elderly citizens. Another Scouting project that John especially liked was that of building a wren house. He thinks that eventually he would like to be a carpenter.

John has already started saving money for a mission. When John was baptized by his father, he received a set of scriptures from his parents. John uses his scriptures at church, during family home evenings, and when his family reads scriptures each morning. He loves the stories in the scriptures, and his favorite is the one about David and Goliath. John was happy to be able to appear in a road show about David and Goliath.

Photographed by Janet Kruckenberg

1. A giant model pelican seems to approve of John’s cooling off in the tumbling water.

2. Holder of several Webelo awards, John studies his Cub Scout manual.

3. Big brother John helps little brother Nathan walk with custom-built crutches.

4. Stacked logs will make warm fires when the temperature drops.

5. John steadies a wren house that he built for a Cub Scout project.

6. It’s quite a climb up to the two-story tree fort.

7. Mike Douglas really appreciated his good helper when he was building a new garage.

8. Before he and his dad try their luck at ice fishing, John scoops slush out of a newly augered hole in front of their ice house.