by Steven Ullman, SCA Crew Leader
I've always been attracted to wild and hidden places. I've sought them out near my home and far from it. I've appreciated these spaces forever, but these last three years working as an SCA crewleader has given me a special kind of satisfaction, one that comes from knowing I'm making it possible for others to experience the great outdoors and sharing those experiences with some pretty incredible people.
Before I began working for the SCA, I spent a lot of time climbing, hiking, and exploring on my own. I’ve learned, however, that to be a good outdoor leader, you need more than just “outdoor experience”. You have to be comfortable with learning new routines, staying outside for long periods of time, and being transient. Sure, there are skills, techniques, strategies and instincts that I am just beginning to develop. But the first step is living in the outdoors long enough to know you can wear the same shirt for weeks and everything will be OK.
I’m also appreciative of the trail building skills that I’ve learned through SCA, both as a member and as a leader. And I have spent a few summer nights reading and re-reading by flashlight the pages of the SCA trail manual, Lightly On the Land, hoping what information I gleaned would be an adequate substitute for practical experience. But then, experience comes.
As I get ready for my eighth SCA program this summer, I realize what an incredible, endlessly adaptive art trail building can be. I really understand how much there is out there to learn, and that’s a great feeling because the learning process thus far has been a blast and I hope it doesn't stop.
The SCA has taken me to the Delaware Water Gap -- my first crew experience and a time of such a deliriously steep learning curve that I will never forget it.
I’ve been to Katmai National Park in Alaska, where I found myself actually telling someone, “I think you need to let that bear have that fish you just hooked.”
I put loving care, sweat, and now and again blood into a trail at the Grand Canyon that hundreds of thousands of people have already walked on and stood awestruck beside, whether they were looking at the canyon or at the trail.
And, I’ll remember the White Mountains of northern Alaska, from which my most salient impression is wrestling tundra to build the most improbable trail ever.
These experiences and memories are thanks to the dedicated SCA volunteers who show up ready to learn, unafraid to step outside their comfort zone. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with the youth that find SCA, and I hope to continue crewleading for a long time to come.
To learn more about crewleading for SCA, please visit our Seasonal Employment pages.
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