Project Dates: September 28, 2010-May 17, 2011 Project Leader: Emily Frankel Email: email@example.com Phone: 760-780-8039 Address: 57087 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284
After living in big cities for most of my life, I always figured it was a fairly time consuming task to set up a community - Rome wasn't built in a day and all that. Well, while Great Falls was not the most permanent of cities, it definitely will go down in MY history books as one of the most pleasantly efficient places I've lived yet for any extended period of time. And boy did it go up fast (take that, Rome)! By the time Wildcorps rolled in on day 1, we already had: a grand dining hall (camp chairs arranged in a circle), a decked out restaurant with a WORLD CLASS chef (a combination of camp stoves, trailers, trucks and easy-ups), numerous classrooms (two tents and a cave), luxurious bath-houses (6 port-a-potties set up among the shrubs) and endless public lands for exploration (thanks, BLM!).
I've got to say I was feeling a little nervous going into an All Corps training that Wildcorps was going to be the odd crew out - as the only crew based in Yucca Valley for the moment, and with three members to the other crews' six, I felt like we were already at something of a disadvantage. But as I keep realizing and re-realizing, the DRC means what it says about being a family and a community. And you know, I don't know if this was a happy special accident or the intentional secret genius of our trusty project leaders and staff, but if I were to summarize the most important thing I learned at training, sure it would be a RESULT of all the concrete and crucial facts and experience we got, but really it was that we, a group of strangers, all learned to trust and respect each other as a community. And in 17 days!
The first week of training we spent building a relationship with the land we'll be working to restore and the people we'll be working with to restore it. It's extra important to uphold a strong Leave No Trace ethic while we're out living in the ecosystems we're preserving - it'd be pretty counterproductive to leave more of an impact than we're helping to reduce - so we spent a lot of time talking about our impact while living and working in the desert. One of my favorite discussions of the week was our stellar chef Raven's food talk - how to buy and eat food with a conservation ethic and stay happy, healthy, and not feel guilty about it.
We spent two days getting a little taste of exactly what we'll be doing in the field for the next 7 months - though it's a little different for Wildcorps because we move from project to project. Then we got a few days of Community and Leadership with Steve, though I missed half of it because, I kid you not, I was injured playing Rock, Paper Scissors and had to go back into civilization for a day at the medical clinic (talk about feeling dirty when you walk into a hospital after a week or so in the middle of the desert!).
We spent the following 8 days in WFR training. What an experience! Half lecture and half scenario training, it was such an absorbing process that after day two or so it was pretty hard to remember that we were all together to restore the desert, not to become Backcountry EMTs. I think we all learned a ton of invaluable skills and will feel more comfortable going to remote locations where, if something were to happen, a hospital wouldn't be right around the corner. On top of that, I think we all got so much more comfortable with each other - seeing how someone else responds to emergencies, or any medical issue minor or major, really tells you something about them. I'm happy to say there's no one in the DRC now currently brandishing their WFR certs that I wouldn't put my full trust in!
Well before I jet off to Wildcorps IX Hitch #1, I've got to say that one of the hidden perks of setting up your own Rome like we did at Great Falls is you really live on your own time. One of the first things we did when all five crews circled up for the first time in the parking lot was synch our watches. At first there was a bit of confusion - "but my watch is two minutes different than yours!" - but Golden Valley project leader Shannon quickly pointed out that out there, we're not on satellite or cell phone or Pacific time - we're on DRC time. We kept to a rigorous schedule, but it was OUR schedule, not the corporate world's (literally, what is a weekend?), and boy is it strange to be back in a city not made of tents, sitting at a computer. Luckily, we have 7 more months of working on our own schedule, and you can bet I'm keeping my watch set to DRC time!