Under the Boardwalk


Degrees of latitude I cannot measure but I picked up at least 40 degrees of Fahrenheit between Gateway Nat’l Rec Area and Padre Island Nat’l Seashore. PAIS, in the shorthand of the National Park Service, is one of two SCA Alternative Spring Break sites sponsored by American Eagle this year. Grand Canyon is the other.

Twenty-five college students from around the country are building an ADA-compliant boardwalk on this Texas barrier island; next week another 25 will put an addition on a sea turtle research building some 40 miles downshore.

The week started with some drama — a tornado warning forced the students to seek shelter Monday and there were reports of a funnel nearby. Funnel cloud, that is. But boardwalk construction resumed soon thereafter without further incident; in fact, one ASBer said the quick evacuation really put the crew’s teamwork skills to the test.

Seashore operations chief Larry Turk told me he was extremely impressed with the crew’s leaders, members and progress. The boardwalk will not only protect sensitive dunes and turtle nesting areas but open the beach to handicapped visitors. He called it a real win-win.

I’ve been to many SCA sites before but most crews consist of only eight members. When I arrived and saw 25 students toiling away under blue skies and beneath blue hard hats — man, it was a dazzling display of synchronized service. They are getting a lot done in their week and, most agree, a lot out of it.

AE gave the crew cameras and over the next several days they’ll be posting videos and stills on both the SCA and AE websites. Come back soon for further updates…