As we wind down our almost 40 SCA alumni gatherings this year, I wanted to share some thoughts from alumni John Dudley and Kelly Malone, who married after spending a year at NH Conservation Corps at Bear Brook State Park in 1996 and who drove 10 hours with 3 kids under the age of 5 to attend the reunion recently.
“My wife Kelly and I (and our kids) had a great time reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends, learning about the wonderful growth of the program and SCA, and walking the trails of our beloved Bear Brook. The ten months we spent there were some of the most influential of our lives. We hold the lessons we learned and the friendships we forged very closely to our hearts. Certainly college taught me a lot and provided some good times, but the program at Bear Brook made me realize that I really can have a positive impact on the world where I live.
“I remember going to talk about the program in front of a group of people (I think it was part of the AmeriCorps funding process). As I told them about the various projects we were doing at Bear Brook and in the community, I, for the first time, put into words what being a volunteer means to me. I remember saying that we can't all be volunteers “for a living,” that most of us will have to work regular jobs and volunteer when we have extra time, and that it is important to cultivate a desire to volunteer when we have that extra time. I understand that importance now even more than I did then, because, with a job and a family, any “extra” time I might have is extremely precious. However, being back at Bear Brook and remembering how good it makes me feel to work for the environment has fueled me to become more active in my local community. The best part is that I can share this “extra” time with my family, thereby benefiting the environment and instilling good practices in my children.”
“I think the reunion was such a great trip for us – our service year seems like so long ago, but when we drove back into Bear Brook, it all came rushing back! (the snow, snow and more snow; the 16-passenger vans, YMCA showers, First Responder training, rock-work, knitting on the sofas (!), bugs, cooking in the kitchen, hiking/surveying the trails, etc.... I think I realized just what an integral part we were that year of something so much bigger – and we helped lay the foundation! I’m honored.
“John and I have a renewed sense of ourselves. We were so happy to be able to share this part of our lives with our children, and we hope they inherit our love of the outdoors as well as commitment to service – isn’t that what this country needs?”
Photo Caption: Growing the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders -- Kelly and John with baby Celia, Gabriel (left) and Lucas (right)