I have seen a lot of SCA crews in my time. But this one -- and I say this with all due respect to the many in our ranks who wear their hard-earned grime and stench as a badge of honor -- was the most putrid I have ever encountered.
After three weeks of trail building in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park they may have actually posed a greater environmental threat than the one they alleviated. One member, a 16-year old nicknamed "Darla" for her resemblance to a certain fish in "Finding Nemo," proudly stated she had not washed her dark, curly locks since she arrived. "I'm really a blonde," she claimed.
It had been a sweltering week that topped out Thursday at 101 degrees, but the crew was pushing to complete repairs to a remote portion of Deep Creek Trail so they could join a ceremony naming SCA's 50,000th volunteer of all time. The event was to take place on the other side of the park, outside GSMNP headquarters near the Sugarland Visitors Center, but truth be told the moment could not have taken place without them -- as the 50,000th volunteer was part of the crew.
Sarah Logan Beasley, a high school junior from Tallahassee who noted on her SCA application that she wanted to "save the world," yesterday told a crowd of 150 SCA volunteers, alumni, park personnel and others that her mission is underway "and I'll be back next year!" Sarah Logan's work, and that of her crew, was captured by an NBC Nightly News camera crew and is scheduled to be broadcast tonight.
I'm not exactly sure what you will see, but I know "Darla" described her first few days at GSMNP as "like sleeping in an armpit" thanks to a driving rain that soaked most of the crew's base camp. They said they learned the benefits of working together ("if no one wants to cook, for example, we don't eat") and that they don't miss things like cell phones (in their absence, said Sarah Logan, "everything is magnified out here. Happiness is magnified out here.")
So, if it doesn't sound too oxymoronic, be sure to watch your TV tonight to see how the SCA crew got along without their iPods. And see how five of 50,000 SCA volunteers made the Great Smokies even greater. [ed.note: You can view the clip here .]