With the snow outside beginning to stick, eleven members braved the approaching storm to gather for SCA Manchester's biweekly Corps Meeting. As participants drifted into the warmth of the Salvation Army, they joined a pick-up game of Anteater Soccer with their leaders Chelsea Kibbe and Aria Bilal. Leader Kevin Webster brought the group together to discuss respect, participation, and involvement and introduced our call and response technique for getting the groups attention. The call, "When I say Corps Mates you say what! Corps Mates!" Then, the members voices filled the gym with the response "What?!" Everyone's attention was then on Kevin who headed up SCA Manchester's cultural exchange by showing the crowd how to play Alaskan Baseball.
After the fun-filled new forms of soccer and baseball were learned, members gathered to talk about individual program goals. Leader Chris Olsen led the discussion and introduced a goal survey for each individual to complete. The Corps went through the survey together and members shared with the group. This exercise is the first in a goal setting series that will help our high school students work toward achievement and bring us together as a Corps.
Speaking of working, the Manchester Crew has filled all seats for this Saturday's Service Learning Project which is a clean-up on Jenness Beach and Chelsea briefed those to be in attendance. Our evening of fun, safe, and educational activities came to an end after an hour and it was time to disperse like snowflakes in the sky.
Our next Corps is on March 14th at 4:30 pm at the Salvation Army, please join us.
As quiet anticipation filled two SCA emblazoned vans, SCA Manchester tramped in and out of Bear Brook State Park on the winding drive from Manchester through Allenstown, New Hampshire. White pines soared overhead; C.C.C. era buildings dot the ride; open water from half-frozen ponds shot sunlight through the trees and into our eyes. The wind was breezing, the sun was shining, and the early morning birds were chirping as the high school community members rode down the long and serene pass into the beautiful SCA New Hampshire Corps Spruce Pond Camp. With a lesson of layering under their belts from their previous Corps Meeting, the high school members were ready to tackle whatever weather this odd New Hampshire winter might throw at them. Fortunately for everyone, nature's hot chocolate, the sun, accompanied us through all our plans and left our preparations unimpeded.
As we exited the vans to explore the historic C.C.C. building that makes up our camp, members were challenged to leave their electronics behind, embrace the woods, and get to know the forest in a way that they may have never imagined nor seen. "Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment," encouraged co-leader Chelsea Kibbe to set the theme that pervaded the day's plans.
"I've got mail for anyone that woke up at 6 am or earlier to be here today," one member highlighted during the icebreaker game, "I've got mail for...," led by Chris Olsen, which sparked the day's activities. It harked back to the C.C.C. days of ole when members woke up at 5:30 to begin a full day's work of conservation. The game allowed the group to not only connect with each in their similar capacities but also to represent the group's diversity as one member noted, "I've got mail for anyone who was not born in the United States," and the majority of the group competed for places around the circle. Later, two intense "Human Knot" games tested this new group's ability to communicate, work as a team, and get to know each other by name.
After a quick tour of the NH Corps living facilities, two interpretive hikes, one led by Jonathan Rager, another co-led by Maddy Hunt and Andrea Klaphake, acclimated the group to New England's woods, trees, and ecosystems. Since there were enough corps members to have two concurrent interpretations of the park happening at the same time, every minute was filled with informative moments. "There's a battle going on up there." Maddy encouraged the students to look up into the sky and observe the white pines of New Hampshire's mixed forest competing for sunlight. Maddy and Andrea made the forest feel alive to the group down the Beaver Pond trail. Birches are bending over trails searching for light, hemlocks were drooping in shame over their small cones, and peat moss squeezed dry onto the boardwalk over the marshlands. Quiet conversations between the members compared their own woods, trees, and forest from their homelands. The high school crew was instructed to hang back, giving the students priority over the lesson.
Jonathan Rager's hike was a slippery jaunt on the compacted ice that plagues Spruce Pond Road in the winter, and he prefaced his walk: "I don't want to scare you from walking on the ice, but the ice is a part of nature, and it's something I think you should experience." Jonathan spoke stories of the structure of state parks, the recreational activities and their presence in parks, and the Civilian Conservation Corps' influence not only on the trails the groups was currently standing on, the buildings everyone was entering and exiting but also on SCA Manchester itself. He challenged his groups to dig underneath the surface of the physical features of the park; Why are we all here trudging through this path? How did the history of design of Bear Brook State Park get us here right now? How do we stop and appreciate the natural elements available to us? It was an introductory philosophical swim into the natural world, history, and decision making. Jon utilized his skills of place based education. SCA Manchester was dutifully engaged, hopefully questioning inside their purpose of being here and what mark they will leave on the program.
The day wound down by a fire on the Spruce Pond beach complemented rightfully so by smores and hot chocolate. The high school crew chatted, observed their peers, and met who they will be working with on conservation projects in this year. Spontaneous games of ninja and soccer sprang up on the beach and several took the time to just look out on the pond to ponder where the harsh winter had gone.
With Spring just around the corner, SCA Manchester headed home-much louder and more lively than the ride in. The team has begun to form, the conservation projects are coming in, and the White Mountains are calling soon.
If you didn't believe it before, believe it now - the 2012 SCA Manchester Program has begun! Kicking off with the first Corps Meeting yesterday we can already see that this season holds great promise! At 4:30pm 27 members started mingling as they played the game "secret fact treasure hunt." Each person disclosed a fact about themselves as they entered the meeting. Then, this list was projected on the board as everyone mingled trying to find who matched which fact. After ten minutes of mingling we circled up and everyone introduced themselves and their fact with the group.
From there Aria led a brief discussion about the broad concept of conservation and how we apply such a broad term to this program. The members split into teams where they were given the opportunity to further discuss then draw what conservation was to them. This activity produced many giggles as all presented their visual representations.
Kevin took the lead explaining our very own mountain man Chris's layering ensemble. Then the members jumped at the chance to put their new layering knowledge to the test. A pile of miscellaneous clothing in the middle of the floor was the center piece of the next activity. A representative from each group was chosen to be the model of proper layering technique. Given only 90 seconds to complete their ensemble, laughs broke across the group as all teams raced to the large pile of clothing in the center of the floor and layer up as fast as they could.
All spots are full for our first Saturday Service Learning Event at Bear Brook State Park. The day will be filled with programs, campfire games, and fun! If you were unable to attend this weeks' Corps Meeting or Saturday Service Learning Event we hope that you will be able to join us at our next Corps Meeting on Wednesday, February 29th at 4:30pm or at our next Saturday Service Learning Event , March 3rd!
First Information Meeting
Wednesday February 8, 2012
Our first Information Meeting was a great success, our careful preparation and planning paid off when we found ourselves at the front of the room facing the 32 people who had attended. We had twenty-eight eligible high school students, three parents, and one participant's 8th grade sibling who was interested in learning more about the program. We were pleased to meet Emily Lord, an SCA Manchester Leader from 2011. It was great to see that our program is gaining interest, momentum, and visibility in the community.
The meeting began, as scheduled, at 7 PM in our usual meeting room at Salvation Army. We began by introducing ourselves and moved from there to a name game which took much longer than we had anticipated. This actually worked to our benefit as it kept the students engaged, moving and laughing at each other's dance moves. We had planned to do two activities but decided against the second after we realized we were pressed for time, this had the added benefit of focusing the attention on the informational aspect of our meeting.
We moved into our presentation from here, overcame a frightening technical detail, which allowed for a little bit more comic relief and a chance for us to show off our ability to improvise and adapt to challenges. Our presentation went well, after having practiced it and critiqued it so many times. We ended our presentation with a question and answer session.
We had asked two prominent returning members, Zach and Destiny, to speak to their experiences in the program last year. They both gave examples of meaningful events and recounted stories from their participation last year that we, as new leaders, could never have described while we were presenting. They provided proof that our program is fun and enjoyable. This was a definite highlight of the night.
We left time at the end for milling around and mingling. The students moved around and talked to us about who they are and asked us questions about ourselves. Many of them said they would be attending our next meeting and joining us on our first Saturday event at Bear Brook.
After this meeting, we as leaders are newly energized, and excited to see so much momentum. We learned that our presentation needs more of a conclusion, a review of the important pieces of paperwork, clarifications of things that might have been confusing. Our conclusion was something of a culmination of convoluted sidenotes. In no way did this ruin our presentation, but we feel we might have actually confused more people with our emphasis on clarity.
From here we are working on scheduling more events, getting more flyers into the community, scheduling opportunities to present in schools (tabling at lunch, as well as in-class presentations)and afterschool programs (like the YMCA teen program).
We also are working on meeting with Jessica Fleming of Manchester Parks and Recreation to establish a lasting, substantial partnership of some type(probably adopting a park, or trails), as Parks and Recreation is a partner we would love to have. It would provide a more visible, substantial, and logical place for SCA Manchester, a place that is a little more tangible and "show-off-able" to the participants friends and family. It would be a partnership that would tremendously benefit both organizations.
Here we go.
SCA Manchester Conservation Leadership Corps Leaders
SCA NH corps
159A Deerfield Road
Allenstown, NH 03275
(603) 485-2191 ext.5
It is February and icicles still line the rooftops, but the SCA Manchester Community Program event season has already begun. The first SCA Manchester event was a roaring success. The location was selected to be Bear Brook State Park; this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the rare SCA NH Corps members unimpeded in their natural habitat.
The Manchester community program members piled into logo emblazoned vans on a blistery, blustery morning eager for adventure and conservation. After an hour long drive deep into the New Hampshire countryside the seven participating members and four leaders arrived at Spruce Pond Camp. After the standard formalities, the first item on the agenda was a facilities tour so the new members could see where all the magic happens.
The community program members were thoroughly impressed by the general lack of amenities in the residential cabins and had many inquiries as how it was possible to survive without the basic necessities of life such as: McDonald's, cable television, electricity, and 4G networks. Afterward, they attended their first environmental presentation of the year led by two SCA NH Corps interpretive interns, Dan Coale and Lily Cason.
Through the staggeringly informative and educational medium of felt-board short stories along with the articulate and imaginative contributions of the interpreters, the history of Bear Brook State Park came alive. The group then feasted upon exquisitely prepared gado gado and macaroni & cheese made with extra care, for as any good leader knows, the best way into a high schooler's mind is through the stomach. The event culminated in a final act of conservation as the crew set off on an interpretive hike into the untamed wilderness.
Luckily two knowledgeable SCA NH Corps interpretive interns, Jordan Sawyer and Kat Drago, led the group along the scarcely traversed Broken Boulder Trail. The interns were more than capable, weathering the wilds and dodging obstacles deftly while interpreting the seemingly indecipherable nature with ease. What appeared to be a nondescript fallen tree to the untrained eye was explained to be caused by a gigantic grazing moose. "You can tell it was about eight feet tall due to the height of these nibblings," Kat Drago says gesturing frantically to a twig above her head as she trudges fearlessly off the trail into thigh-deep snow.
Above Smith Pond stands a lean-to shelter scrawled with the names of park visitors over the years, this served as the mid-point of the hike for the group. Here, they warmed their bemittened hands and bescarfed faces over an open fire and discussed the affairs of the day over local (extremely local) Hemlock Tea and Hot Chocolate.
At last, a wonderful day had come to an end and it was time to return to Manchester and their lives in doors, however with a little luck, perhaps these students will continue activity in the program and become lifelong Earth stewards.
1 - The 2011 SCA Manchester Leadership Corps warm-up at the Smith Pond lean-to with Team Leaders Carly, Sean, Darin and Emily, and NH Corps Interpreters, Kat and Jordan.
2 - Evan checks out the winter flora and fauna with binoculars.
3 - On their hike back to the lodge crew members tried some snowshoeing.