BTTC - Leadership Crew 2011

The 2011 Berkshire Teen Leadership Crew had big shoes to fill and high expectations to meet. A stellar 2010 Leadership Crew had set the bar high. The crew was coming in with a lot of experienced members. Jesse Samdahl was back for his third year with the Berkshire program and took up the role as an intern for the crew. In addition, we had Michael Day (also coming back for a third year), Max Crystal and Zoe Payne-Taylor returning to the Berkshire program from previous years. To round out our crew’s resume we had participants from AMC White Mountain trips, an SCA crew volunteer, a Himalayan trekker and many others with extensive hiking experience.

Our project was to cut a new switchback on the Appalachian Trail along the side of Mt. Prospect just north of Mt. Greylock. When we started, the trail had a minimum grade of 35% causing the trail to erode beyond its limits. Our goal was to cut a switchback at a more sustainable grade. This meant a lot of sidehilling. While previous crews this summer had begged us to teach them how to “dougie,” (see this crew cried “Teach me how to sidehill, teach me, teach me how to sidehill!” Melody Feo and I (Mike
Leavitt) did our best and had a lot help from our returning participants (especially Zoe and Max who had sidehilled last year). Everyone picked up the new skill very quickly. Because of the
crew’s experience level, Melody and I were able to allow them to make many of their own decisions about the work. The crew found time for a lot more than just trail work however. The weeks included numerous sunsets, swimming, jokes, stories and trust falls.

The weekends allowed for the crew to take a break from trail work. The first weekend they became certified in Wilderness First Aid by completing a two day course. During the second weekend, they went on a Leave No Trace backpacking trip. In between all of this, there was some down time allowing for barbecues, ultimate Frisbee and feeding the cows.

All of the listening and learning culminated when it came to their day to lead. Everyone was paired up and given a different day to lead. Each group was responsible for leading the crew from the time they woke up until the time they went to bed. This included waking everyone up, carrying the medical kit, leading the work projects, organizing all other aspects of the day, and even planning and shopping for that day’s meal.. Melody and I spent our days working on separate projects, leaving the leaders to run the crew and make all the tough decisions. Matt Moore and Valerie (2009 crew leader) came out on Thursday with a reporter from the Berkshire Eagle. The crew was featured in the August 19th paper!

Melody and I woke everyone up at 5am the last day and were greated with sleepy groans. We all piled into the van and made it to the top of Mt. Greylock to see the sun rising over the clouds.
The sunrise ended with a delicious chocolate chip pancake breakfast on the summit. We then packed up camp and returned to the KCC for the last time. After a long, busy three weeks, participants ran to greet their parents and pets. Joyful greetings were followed by reluctant farewells. Big hugs, a few tears and Laurel wishing everyone “a good life” concluded the 3 week Berkshire Leadership crew. Everyone walked away from the three weeks looking forward to a shower and a meal not involving beans, rice or pasta. However they also walked away as sidehilling experts, hikers and leaders.

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Mike Leavitt - Projects Coordinator

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