And what about Jeff Chabot? Jeff has built Friends of Virgin Islands’ volunteer program up from scratch and throughout the week we enjoyed th
e tent platforms, tents, cots, stoves, camp gear and even snorkel gear that Jeff had procured for trail volunteers through donations to his program. In Jeff, we also had the best island tour guide and naturalist we could ask for, filling our free afternoons (we only worked each day until lunch) with tours of ruins, the island’s best snorkeling, and a wealth of information on the island’s rich history and ecology. Jeff is a volunteer himself, and bringing together his burgeoning program with AMC’s long tradition of hard work and camaraderie made for a simply perfect collaboration and volunteer vacation, and an experience I hope AMC members can participate in for many years to come.
Following is testimonials from our tremendous group. Hopefully this reminiscing will get us through to next year when I know many of us will be eager to do it again!
-Matt Moore, Crew Leader, Great Barrington, MA
This crew went above and beyond my expectations, as this group worked incredibly well together to build quality trails while also having a blast. Our crew was quite diverse; we had members ranging 60 years of age, seasoned trail workers to fresh faces. However, this crew only affirmed the notion that people of all different ages and experience levels can make positive impacts on the trails if they put the time and effort. It’s hard to pick out specific highlights from such a fantastic crew, but here it goes:
Christian’s crepes, Cathy’s peanut sauce, and Sully’s quesadillas (this crew took campground cooking to a whole new level).
Exploring Drunk Bay: never before had a seen people made out of coral!
Completing a crazy long section of trail
Exploring incredible ruins and enjoying fantastic views after Jeff drove the 15-passenger van up a hill no 15-passenger van would want to drive up
The often scary but fascinating wildlife
Our fabulously eccentric, entertaining, hard-working, fun-loving crew!
-Leah Demetri, Crew Leader, Stanford, CA
Volunteer trail work at the Virgin Islands was a wonderful example of “Life Begins Outside”. We had a fantastic experience of meeting, working, having fun, interfacing and living for a week with people who enjoy the outdoors. Not only enjoy, but love working to improve the existing conditions for others that will surely hike the improved Anneburg Trail. For fifteen people to work and live together who had never met before is truly remarkable, what a great experience!
I have never had so much enjoyment shoveling dirt and cutting stumps, while at the same time looking at some of the finest scenery in the world. The swimming and snorkeling was amazing in the warm blue/green water. Mealtime was a lot of fun everybody cooking their favorites and finding the out the best method for cooking. If we had not worked so hard we all would have gained a few pounds!
Remember……same time, same place next year.
-Al Blankenship, Dunnellon, FL
The sun was hot. The water was a shimmering, iridescent blue. The work was hard. But the result was very satisfying. We all took great pride in the 1/4 mile or so of flat, wide trail that we had spent the week reconstructing.
The greatest pleasure was the people. It was a diverse and interesting group. (60 years separated the youngest from the oldest.) But we worked well as a team and enjoyed each others company in the off-hours. And then our leaders - Matt provided excellent, soft spoken leadership and Leah showed great maturity. (It was a shock to learn that she was a mere college freshman.) Last, but not least, our host, Jeff. He was always considerate, thoughtful as well as being an entertaining teacher. He taught us a lot about St John's history, geology, flora and fauna.
I came with high expectations for the week. My expectations were greatly exceeded.
-Jonathan Mercier, Hartford, CT