It's been almost a month now since the arrival of the corps members to the SCA Adirondack Program. Training is wrapping up and hitch season is about to start. 2011 is looking to be great year!
During the first week of training members became oriented to the Whitney headquarters and surrounding area. Despite the lack of physical labor during the first few days, members learned a great deal about expectations for the course and about living in a community. Towards the middle of the week they got the opportunity to hike nearby Coney Mountain, and caught their first real glimpse of where they would be working for the next five months. At the end of the week the entire crew filled their packs and went out on their first back country overnight to learn how to live in the wilderness and fend for themselves. Despite the initial dreary and rainy weather, the trip went well and everyone learned how to successfully dig a cat hole, cook on camp stoves, and filter water, among other useful skills.
Week two brought a whole new challenge to the corps members: learning how to care for injuries and illnesses while in the back country. All members became Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) certified, and spent four days learning the ins and outs of making litters to carry injured participants, wrapping arterial bleeds, and diagnosing illnesses. The training ended with an afternoon of role playing in which a mass casualty incident was imitated. During this incident members had to work together to assess the situation, diagnose the injured people, and provide care for those still living. Even though a few people unfortunately “died” during the exercise, everyone gained some knowledge about how to deal with stressful situations where multiple people are hurt. Week two concluded with a day dedicated to crew leader training, where everyone learned how to pack out for a hitch, how to effectively communicate with each other, and how to resolve problems between fighting crew members.
The third week of training was entirely dedicated to learning the work skills necessary for building and restoring trails. The entire crew headed out to the North Country School, near Lake Placid, and was put to work on four different stations: new trail building, stone, carpentry, and timber. During the course of the week, each smaller group helped contribute to the building of a new cross country ski trail, the placement of a stone turnpike, the refurbishment of an old cabin, and the building of four new rustic timber bridges. Each group had a different task at each station, but helped contribute to the overall success and completion of the project. During this week, members continued to learn the skills necessary for camping for extended periods of time. The group also enjoyed the surrounding nature and was able to swim in the lake and take hikes up to Balanced Rocks.
The last week of training before the hitches start was advanced work skills training. The members were split into three smaller groups and each group was soon to become experts in one of the following: grip hoist and stonecutting, chainsaw, and invasive species removal. The grip hoist group learned how to move rocks, stringers for bridges, and other large objects over distances too far to carry said objects. The chainsaw group, affectionately known as sawyers, had the opportunity to learn the mechanics of the chainsaw, different cuts they are able to make, and how to fell and chop up a tree. They also went over every single safety issue and preventative measure that needs to be taken to ensure there are no injuries on the job. Although with WAFA training fresh in their memories, every member would surely be able to handle any situation. Lastly, the group learning about invasive species was sent off in search of plants to remove. This small group of select people is now able to identify and remove offensive plants, and also had the opportunity to learn about “management practices.” They made a triumphant return on Thursday evening to rounds of applause and general fanfare.
Thus ends the first month of the SCA Adirondack team’s training. It’s been a full, learning intensive month, but everyone has come out alive and kicking on the other side. We’re all movin’ and groovin’ and can’t wait for hitches to start next week!