What it Means to be a Field Leader for SCA


By SCA Leader, Sophia Siciliano (Photos courtesy of Steven Gang)

Spending a summer in a tent is not ideal for many people. Some may feel even less keen on that idea if it involved full work days in the heat of the South. Luckily for Steven and me, the members of our SCA National Crew were all for it.

This summer, we had the privilege of leading a group of high school students in both the Lee and North River Districts of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. Our six members learned how to plan and complete a variety of trail repair projects, from moving a fallen bridge, to fixing drainages. Furthermore, our crew had the unique opportunity to stake out and build a trail from scratch. Every day brought new challenges like sudden thunderstorms, rough terrain, or long hikes.

I often think that small, beautiful moments get lost in day-to-day life. It is easy to overlook them when you are constantly engrossed in school, work, family, and friends. This summer was different. This difference stemmed from the members of our crew; each was intrinsically motivated to work, wanted to make new friends, and wanted to learn more about their environment. They were curious, open minded, and kind. When I look back on co-leading this hitch, there are so many little memories to choose to talk about. You’ll see some of these moments in the video.

Every day, as part of our stretch circle, we’d have thirty seconds of “free dance” to shake out our muscles and wake up. The crew members were skeptical at first, but, as you can see, everyone ended up embracing the routine and loved that time to goof off before getting down to business. Another favorite moment was emerging on top of a mountain dividing West Virginia and Virginia after being lost for an hour…at least. Our crew members were always ready for an adventure.

I love leading for SCA. It is immensely gratifying to see your members not just become a trail crew, but individual leaders as well. Getting away from civilization is paramount to the growth achieved on a crew. It levels the playing field between everyone; we are all smelly, sweaty, and truly need each other to make every day possible. All are impacted by any one person’s actions. No one individual is more important than anyone else. This allows members to claim ownership over themselves in a way not possible in a school setting, and lets them see the benefits of their work.

As leaders, our hope is for the members to take what they have learned on the crew, and what they have learned about themselves, and apply it to their everyday life. This can be as simple as a knot or something deeper, like a new routine for self care. Our crew grew to show us that they are capable of collaborating with their peers, work independently, live in a community, and much more. If they can all that in the middle of the woods with people they’ve only known for a few weeks, just imagine what else they will do.

Student Conservation Association