Sunday, July 5, 2009

Trail Building ~ Building Citizens

On Tuesday we had a small volunteer crew of two adults and three young men. They youth were ages 10 - 12. Shelton and Ashley were the adult volunteers.
This is an example of how a simple challenge can be used to build confidence, community, and citizenship through volunteer opportunity.
This is the little section we set to work on, with the challenge of working together as a team to level a stretch that needed to reach grade and to clear the sides of overgrowth.
These three youngsters made an effort to accomplish tasks they had no reason to do but for the benefit of others. Selfless volunteering!
And in the process they gained confidence and skill and a sense of accomplishment.
Using tools that they would not likely pick up and put to work at home without some serious motivation, they readily took to the challenge of cutting, digging, and raking the fresh cut out to level.
And while working there was time out for a brief conversation. Not unlike adult volunteers who find time for chatting and telling tales, these young men strike a pose in the light for their break.
Quick to respond when the trail boss says "Hey guys what are you doing?" ;-)
The reply was an instant, "we were discussing what to do here"....
And then back to work. At the end of our challenge I suggested we walk down the trail to a section that had not been worked on at all. We went to an uncut, unlevel, and steep sloped section and stood there off balance while discussing what would need to be done to make that part ready for hiking. They were already experts and had good suggestions of what needed to be done.
I thought it would be fun to have them walk back out over the section they had improved. As they passed over their work the sense of pride in accomplishment was obvious.
One kid said "this is good!" and the next child RAN across his stretch of level trail. But the one that pleased me the most was the young man who performed that wonderfully unique childhood action, he "SKIPPED" across his trail!
When we provide youth with the opportunity to recognize a need, meet the challenge, and sense accomplishment we are building good citizens.
Through doing
"something for nothing"
and everything for others,
trail building helps put the
"citizenship" :-)

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