About a dozen teens from across the nation recently left their imprints at the Cape May Point (CMP) State Park. They took with them impressions of “amazing wildlife, spectacular beaches” and an experience that showed them what “effective conservation looks like.”
As part of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the nine teens and two crew leaders spent a week at the park. They rebuilt and regraded trails that had eroded. They also worked at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Bass River including the Batona Trail in the Pine Barrens, and Island Beach State Park during a three-week stay in the state.
Braving 90-degree weather with high humidity, the volunteers tent-camped at Belleplain State Forest during their stay, cooking on campfires, limiting their use of technology and learning how to work in a crew to maximize their output.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the crews we’ve had,” parks Superintendent Lorraine McCay said about the SCA crews. “They are really hard-working, really good kids who have done a fantastic job for us.”
SCA crew leader Lucas Daub, who grew up in New Paltz, N.Y., and lives in Binghamton, N.Y., said “the kids are so eager and really gung-ho to work. They have a strong interest in the environment and with the right leadership, are really motivated to do whatever is needed.
“We try to create an atmosphere that is friendly, boosts morale and shows the teens that they can achieve their goals,” he added.
“This is a real-life experience for the kids,” said McCay. “It’s hard work. They are exposed to conservation and the environment. They are camping in tents. It’s a great experience for them, and we get to appreciate their fantastic work as well.”