This post is authored by Nate, an ACLC Corpsmember and Assistant Crew Leader for the Trail Blazers.
The start of the summer term at MHYC was something that I had been looking forward to since the final cold day of January, when my term began. Luckily for me, time did fly as I had fun working on water and energy crews in the early spring. January and February quickly melted away and before I knew it, the beginning of summer and the day I had been most anticipating had finally arrived. A scavenger hunt designed by Jesse helped to serve as a virtual sorting hat, leading me down a path that would eventually lead to an amazing summer.
I’m sure I would have been happy serving on any of the four crews based out of our Denver office, but as luck would have it I soon found that I was to be a Trail Blazer! The name Trail Blazer just sounded so cool to me! I never would have thought that moving to Denver after college my official job title would end up being Trail Blazer. Okay, maybe it wasn’t my official job title, but still pretty cool. Every morning this summer, I got to crawl out of bed and get ready for the day knowing that I wasn’t just getting up to go to any old job — every morning this summer, I woke up a Trail Blazer.
What exactly does a Trail Blazer do, one may ask. Well, after being trained by the forest service in an S-212 chainsaw class, I got to cut down trees everyday. Not only did I get to cut down trees, but I got to work with an awesome crew of seasonal Corpsmembers. I was worried that my summer experience was not going to be as fun as my previous term fall forestry term, but to my surprise, our crew was just as amazing. Throughout the term I was constantly impressed by the initiative and skill that the seasonal Corpsmembers showed. They went from never having touched a chain saw to all becoming grade-A sawyers. One of my leadership roles was to keep track of the number of trees and acreage we cut. At the end of each day, I would ask each Corpsmember how many trees they had cut down that day and I never was disappointed. By the end of the summer, we didn’t just cut down 11,722 trees — we cut down 11,722 bad trees. The trees we removed were dead, infested with pine bark beetles, or overcrowding healthy parts of the forest and we made a huge environmental impact by taking them out.
After all was said and done, our crew didn’t end up winning the MHYC Summer Olympics. But for me, after our success in the community, the crew Olympics didn’t really matter. My summer was still one of the most fun and rewarding times I have ever had. I learned a lot about myself and was able to witness first hand the impact that a group of hard-working, committed youth can have while serving our community. It was a great to see such a diverse group of youth from different backgrounds, each at different points in their lives, uniting in order to grow together and do great things.