Happy National Trails Day from the Volunteer Trails Staff!

“Camp Dodge is a learning facility,” Stefan Shapiro, facilities coordinator of the AMC Trails headquarters told trails staff on a tour of the Dodge grounds last  week. “You are all here to learn new skills.”

Volunteer Trails Staff prepped and ready for leading volunteers on National Trails Day
            The Berkshires Teen Trail Crew Leaders and Support Staff would indeed broaden their horizons at the two week training conference in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where they worked with other AMC trails staff to renew certifications and improve skills for the summer of 2015.
            Some staff members spent their first weekend obtaining or updating their CPR and First Aid training through a SOLO Wilderness First Aid course required for all AMC trails employees. The following week, support staff from the Berkshires and Camp Dodge set out on a Leave No Trace trainer’s course near Zealand Falls, where they learned how to reduce their footprint on trails and campsites, and how to teach this summer’s incoming teen volunteers how to do the same.
            Meanwhile, Crew Leaders were hard at work on the IMP Trail, below White Mountain National Forest’s Carter Range. For some, it had been a long winter of studying (or skiing) since they last held a trail tool, and the IMP Trail had been significantly muddied by the season’s snowmelt, so the crew leaders were unleashed upon the lower IMP circuit to practice their rock work skills. Rain showers created less-than-ideal working conditions for much of the week, but the leaders forged on through sometimes knee-deep mud to build rock staircases, water bars and other trail-saving structures to reduce the erosion caused by weather and foot traffic. All participants seemed to enjoy getting out and getting dirty for the first time this season, based on their smiling and mud-smeared faces.
            When not in the field, the crew leaders were convening in Camp Dodge’s tool shed, refurbishing and hanging ax heads. The gifting of ax heads to crew leaders at the beginning of the season is a celebrated tradition at the AMC. Leaders choose from a box of rusty and dull ax heads which the leaders are then expected to polish, sharpen, and hang on a handle. The process is tedious at times, but the result is a valuable tool which the leaders are able to brandish with pride the rest of the season. On Friday, the leaders took their tools into the field for Forest Service ax training, and enjoyed the sweet, crisp snap of metal on wood as they chopped away with their new heads.
            All training during the past weeks was in preparation of National Trails Day this Saturday, June 6. Volunteers from all over will join Berkshires and Camp Dodge staff in the White Mountains to celebrate and care for local trails. For AMC crew leaders and support staff alike, it will be a great chance to utilize all the skills they have learned at Camp Dodge (except, we hope, first aid!). For volunteers, it will be a chance to join the AMC in the spirit of learning new skills and enjoying the outdoors. After today, Berkshires Staff will be heading south to their Berkshires home base, the Kellogg Conservation Center, to complete 2 more weeks of training!

For teens that are unable to join in National Trails Day, there are still spaces available on Teen Volunteer Trail Crews this summer. 

For start dates and more information on the program, please visit our website at outdoors.org/volunteers