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A Look at 4 Weeks of Teen Volunteering

August 11, 2016
Week 6_4-Week Crew_Second_Notch Trail (23)
Silas, Quintin, Sarah, and Alex setting a rock on Notch trail

This crew is designed to increase our knowledge of trail work and prepare us to be future leaders. We were lucky to spend 4 weeks learning from the amazing staff at Camp Dodge and spending time out in the White Mountains. Taking a Wilderness First Aid course and becoming LNT Trainers gave us proper certifications a crew leader might need. Three of our weeks were spent in the field challenging ourselves with difficult projects such as setting massive rocks and felling trees. Although challenging, we pushed ourselves and each other to do the best work possible to ensure the preservation of our trails. This week is our third week, the “vacation week,” we were exposed to the ins-and-outs of the AMC, spending a night at Zealand Falls Hut and Ethan Pond Shelter. The Hutmaster and Caretaker spoke to their experience working for the AMC, and the opportunities their job provides. We also got a tour of the Mount Washington Observatory that deepened our understanding of the unique weather of the Presidential Range. Alright, enough with the boring summary of our month – let’s meet the crew!

Week 7_Glassface_2nd Wk Crew (23)
Deneb, Justin, and Alex taking a break from building new trail at Glassface Mountain

Hi, my name is Sarah. I am from a town outside of Boston, and am going to be a senior next year. This is my second year at Camp Dodge; last year I did a 2-week spike crew with my friend and classmate Deneb. I am so thankful he introduced me to trail crew, and am glad we could be on this 4-week crew together. Last year I got hooked to trail work. Exhausting yet rewarding, it was work I, like most other people, hadn’t really heard of before. I understood the importance of it and gained a deeper appreciation for trails and everyone who works so hard to maintain them. Pretty soon after my 2-week crew I knew I wanted to do the 4-week crew this summer. It seemed like a perfect set up to become a crew leader, something that I hoped to become. However, during our third week, I learned of so many other job opportunities AMC has to offer. Working at the huts and shelters seem like a perfect summer job, but there are also a few professional trail crews throughout the year. My time spent here has definitely piqued my interest in working alongside the incredible staff at the AMC. One of my favorite aspects of this crew had been meeting and being close with my fellow crew members. The fact that everyone voluntarily committed to spending 4 weeks doing trail work certainly speaks to the kind of people on our crew. We all enjoy being outdoors and are motivated to help maintain and build trails. Although each unique in our own ways, we all share a similar mindset and belief about the work we do which has allowed us to connect in ways I did not think possible.

I’m Silas, and I come from Albany, New York although I’m currently living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This will be my third summer doing volunteer trail work for the AMC and probably my last. I couldn’t be any happier with the way these 4 weeks have played out, and I’m so excited to use the knowledge and skills I’ve obtained during my time here in the world that exists outside Camp Dodge. I signed up for this leadership crew for many different reasons, all of them leading back to the fact that I want to work here at Camp Dodge or at least for the AMC sometime in the future. I also wanted to meet new people because I’ve found some of the best people I know through the AMC, specifically Camp Dodge. Another reason I signed up was purely for the trail work, which is something that goes unacknowledged more often than not. Conservation is very important to me, but it’s also something that I can always continue to learn about, so it’s always great to come back during the summer and learn more about the environment as well as the trails, and be a part of what makes them great. It’s also great to use the knowledge that I’ve gained during the summers to educate others and pass it along. Being at Dodge has made it really easy for me to realize what kind of person I want to be, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Every person I’ve met here has been nothing but kind and helpful, including my fellow crew mates who I’ve had so much fun with these past few weeks. All-in-all, this 4-week leadership crew has been one of the best experiences of my life and I’m so excited for the potential opportunity to come back as an employee of the AMC and be a part of this community in a whole new way.

Hello, my name is Myles and I am from Arlington, Massachusetts. This 4-week crew is my first volunteer crew with the AMC and it has turned out to be far beyond what I could have imagined. It is a little bit unusual for me to not have done any crews before the leadership crew but I knew I would enjoy myself. In my time here at Camp Dodge and in the backcountry with my crew and leaders I have found a new home. The people that volunteer and work for the AMC create a wonderful mash up of hard work, conservation and fun that lend itself to a good time for everybody. I have been on wilderness trips before but never done trail work. I found myself immediately loving the process of improving trails for the huge amount of hikers in the area. As my time on this crew passes I find myself with more and more of an appreciation of the trails and the forests that surround us here at Camp Dodge. The time I have spent here volunteering has inspired me to work to preserve the natural world that sometimes we as humans do not respect. Looking into the various jobs that the AMC hosts was an eye-opening experience to help me understand how the whole organization runs, and I have become very interested in working for the AMC in the future. I really appreciate the 4-week program because I feel as if I have learned a large amount of useful skills and am eager to learn more. Even if this was to be the only work I will do with the AMC I feel as if I have changed to be a harder worker and more conscious about what I really enjoy in life.

Week 7_Glassface_2nd Wk Crew (35)
Justin, Alex, Crew Leader Ian Mundy, and Deneb at Glassface Mountain

Hey, I’m Justin and I am from North Kingstown, Rhode Island. I have just graduated high school and I will be going to Rhode Island College for a degree in Film Studies and Mass Communication. Even though I am a huge video game nerd, I’m no stranger to being a trails volunteer for the AMC. This is my third year participating in a teen trail crew. My first trail crew was a 2 week spike crew, and the year following I completed 2 more. I always wanted to be a part of the 4-week leadership crew ever since I arrived 9 hours late on my first day of a 2 week spike crew and got to spend time with the current 4-weekers. It was so interesting to hear their stories and see how much of a great time they were having working trails and making friendships. The past 3 weeks have been a blast crushing rocks, setting rocks, and getting upset about the rock you think you just have set but is not making enough contact so you have to start over. But it didn’t matter because in the end, we as a crew worked extra hard to solve our problems and set that rock. That’s what being a crew leader is all about, being resilient enough to fix problematic situations and get the job done. To all who are reading this, I bid farewell.

Hello my name is Quintin I am from New Jersey. This is my first crew ever with AMC and was suggested to me by my mom and has been way beyond what I have expected. The trail work was a lot of fun and I learned many things such as how to set a rock although I never seem to be able to get them to set. Although trail work is the main purpose of the crew and what we do most days we still do many other things such as swimming. I remember jumping in the water stunned thinking ‘wow did I really just do that’ and then doing it again. That was pretty amazing but there have been many other awesome things that have happened such as seeing my first moose and going to the top of Mt. Washington but I won’t get into those as it would take too long. So I’m having a blast and can’t believe I only have a week left. See ya.

My name is Alex and I’m from Bow, New Hampshire. I did a base camp crew here three years ago and again the year after that. I love Camp Dodge and spending a month here has allowed me to connect more the staff and crew leaders than before. Everyone here seems like they enjoy what they’re doing. The third week tour of the different AMC facilities was very eye opening and I think I will try to get a job with the AMC at some point in the future. I like the idea of working in the shelters the most. On our visit to the Ethan pond shelter I got to see a moose for the first time in my life. The kids in my crew have all become close to each other in a short amount of time, probably from spending time together all day, every day. This trip has been better than I could have hoped for and I think it is a beneficial thing for just about anyone to participate in.

Week 7_Glassface_2nd Wk Crew (3)
Sarah, Quintin, Crew Leader Ian Mundy, CL Morgan Frazier, Myles, and Silas building a staircase

My name is Deneb and I’m from Norwood, Massachusetts. Having participated in three years of volunteer work here at Camp Dodge, I’ve gotten to know and love this place very much. As of now, I’ve had some of the most memorable outdoor experiences of my life. The camping experience has also brought me very close to my crew who I spend almost all my waking hours with throughout the entirety of this month. Entirely immersed in this experience, I have become very close to Camp Dodge and all the people who work here for the multitude of different programs that operate out of this center. Before last week, I had no idea about the multitude of different job opportunities through the AMC. Learning about the Forrest Service, the Mount Washington Observatory, the Huts and the Shelters program was the highlight of my stay here. Observatory work interested me the most, however I can definitely see myself working for the Huts or Shelters maybe next summer. Great times await me in my last week of trail crew. So long!

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Brendan Taylor

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.