Hitch 1: 5/27 – 6/8
After a week of training at Camp YI in Lavergne, TN, a secluded summer camp just south of Nashville, the Nashville group said good bye to their fellow Army Corps teammates heading off to their respective survey locations and regrouped at our East Nashville abode. During training we learned about SCA and its mission, and also the purpose of the Army Corps Visitor Use Program. As a group we learned how to do traffic control setups, how to give the survey, and then we had practice giving the surveys on different types of characters we will encounter. We had a lot to do and a lot to learn but we also had a lot of time to enjoy ourselves away from the everyday hustle and bustle that would soon be part of our summer. There were nightly games played and events that could earn points toward the coveted SCA crown made by Sophie Louis. Although the Nashville team didn’t win the overall crown, we made a valiant effort and were tough competitors. Training was also a chance for members to meet some of the Army Corps staff, including park rangers and statisticians behind the VUS program. Concluding training was a weekend of Wilderness First Aid training and certification put on by AERIE. What a great way to end training. We spent the next week preparing for surveys, getting to know each other, and exploring Nashville. Although we didn’t actually survey this first week we were still hard at work. The team spent time preparing ERP’s, JHA’s, and getting directions to and from survey sites. Then each team visited each survey location to become familiar with the lakes and parks that would be a part of their summer. At each location we set up at a few select locations. Finally we regrouped and set up a traffic control set up and practiced surveys on each other and on visitors exiting the park. This gave us some practical training before the survey season officially began. After our work days were over the team hit the town, tasting the sights and sounds of Music City, USA. The bright lights and live country music was an attractive force for the team as we were getting settled into Nashville. After finishing our survey preparations, we hosted Brendan, Amanda and John from the Mississippi team for the weekend, while Mike took a trip to Mississippi before the survey season began. It was fun to get to see members from other teams again so soon after training ended. During the weekend the Nashville/Mississippi mix worked on a conservation project at The Nashville Food Project. While there the team helped maintain the organic gardens, planted corn, mulched potatoes, turned over compost, and turned over a strawberry bed to make way for another crop. On the 3rd of June, the well awaited start of survey season came roaring around the corner and our teams were off. Each team enjoyed the sites they were at, and after the first week some of us already had funny stories to share with the rest of the group. On Friday, after falling short handed, we acquired Bud Denega from the Atlanta team to help us out. Back in full force we tackled our first busy weekend head on. Though it was tough, we all made out strong in the end. It was great first week of surveying!