Camaraderie in Conservation


After a restful Wednesday, my fellow campers and I visited Rio Sierra Vista State Park — one of only 5 Mediterranean climates in the world alongside the Mediterranean Basin, Chile, Southern Australia and South Africa. To say the least it was a rare sight to behold.

There were rolling hills, for miles it appeared, and expanses of dense green. The sun was so prevalent and warm that literal drops of sweat fell from the top of my nose to the dry soil. Yet, after two days of grueling invasive plant extraction, it was melodic music to my ears to know that we were to spend the day planting.

The state park we visited grows their own native plants in a home nursery — and from that nursery we loaded over 900 plants into the back of a pickup truck and set off to our destination. Two fields awaited us where feisty invasive plants had once persisted and were now nearly eradicated. I planted an Oak Tree that I refer to fondly as Constance. My fellow camper, Elisa, also planted an Oak Tree that became a close friend. We call him Fred. Constance and Fred are nestled in Rio Sierra Vista State Park, growing. They are well-versed in many genres of music from LL Cool J to Michael Jackson to The B-52’s. We expect a long, happy life for the pair.

It’s rewarding to know that although we uprooted several hundred plants on Monday and Tuesday, we also gave life to native plants in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was without a doubt one of the most exhausting, but most enjoyed, camping days amongst all the campers. (We’re only mourning our undeniable farmer tans.)

I found a family in these people that I didn’t expect. In only a week we shared more thoughts, laughter, and scary stories (sometimes this can be unfortunate) than I thought possible. Friday is our last work day and we’re all woebegone. We aren’t ready for this experience—one that has taught us to weather an indescribable cold, pull weeds at an alarming rate, tie nautical knots, play Cribbage, learn to say f-i-r-e in three different accents, dig a hole deep enough for an Oak Tree, and so much more—to end.

On our last day together as a family, we console ourselves knowing that we’re united in our conservation efforts, and that with a common future of saving the world, we’re likely to come together again.