Sand, Sand, and More Sand!

The first week of the SCA Sandy Recovery Leader Crew at Gateway National Recreation Area was excellent – filled with site visits, planning, stretching, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, hard work, goals reached, education, team building, and so so so much sand and debris in places it was not located prior to Sandy! My co-leader Eric and I are really enjoying leading this leader crew so far; they are a dedicated, hard-working, fun, team-oriented group, and all of them are going to be great at leading their crews at Gateway NRA in a few short weeks!

We started our week off with site visits in Staten Island with Gateway National Recreation Area employees Keith and Chris showing us sites where we will be working, including Fort Wadsworth, Miller Field, and Great Kills Park. On Tuesday we met at Riis Landing in Queens, which has a ferry that takes people out for educational tours. Sandy hit this area hard – sand moved from the oceanside at Fort Tilden, all the way to Riis Landing. It’s almost impossible to imagine the strength this storm had to have to push everything to where it is now. This is our pilot project site, and we are going to work hard at restoring it to pre-Sandy conditions.

Restoration will include a great deal of monotonous manual labor, and so teamwork, comaraderie, and teambuilding activities are going to be essential to getting us through the days. Eric and I led team-building activities throughout the week to get everyone comfortable working as a group. Discovering the diversity in the group, and watching people from all different backgrounds come together for a common goal, is always one of my favorite aspects of leading a team.

We completed our first goal in three and a half days: clearing the piles of sand around the wooden barriers separating the beach from the parking lot. It was really great to watch the leader team members (many of which have never been SCA leaders before) determine the most efficient strategies to complete the goal. We shoveled sand into wheelbarrows, then transported the sand to more beneficial areas along the beach. A few members took the lead on evening out the newly restored sand with rakes. The photo above shows the excellent teamwork in action! I’m excited to watch how the team grows and works to complete our recovery goals in these very important and beautiful areas of NYC.