Project Leader: Peter Gernsheimer Project Dates: 9/8/10 to 6/24/11 Email: email@example.com Phone: 208.914.0410 Address: 903 Lopez St, Santa Fe, NM 87501
The crew arrived on September 8th and drove to the Playful Meadows “homestead” through a light rain and low clouds, creating some confusion as to what exactly living and working in a desert meant. The unusual weather did nothing to discourage the crew from immediately becoming engaged in the project and the team. Everyone was eager to learn about each other and the coming months that, up until this point, had been nothing more than distant descriptions on websites and emails.
The first five days were spent introducing the crew to the kinds of situations they would or could encounter over their term with the SCA. These included scenarios dealing with safety, responsibility, tool use and environmental ethics. The first two of these days were in the program house, where group introductions were made, goals were discussed, contracts were written and short trips were taken from the suburban landscape into the nearby desert to discuss and poke at cholla.
Then things started to get interesting as the crew headed up into the Jemez Mountains, where the narrow and winding roads took them through tribal lands and red sandstone canyons until they reached their campground at 8,200 feet on the edge of an ancient caldera. The group learned how to set up camp and what the expectations were for living in the wilderness. It was good practice for erecting the new and massive white tent that will serve as the cooking and community space, basically the shelter that will be the primary home of everyone on the crew over the next nine months. When the sun went down, everyone retreated to their sleeping bags, which let them stay warm on the cold nights at altitude and look up at the brilliant stars through hundred-foot-tall ponderosa pines.
After everyone was acquainted with camp life and had had a chance to practice backing up a trailer hitched to the work truck, a task that is always a counterintuitive but enjoyable challenge, the crew had to suffer through the arduous task of looking for some natural hot springs along a Forest Service road. When the hot springs were found, the crew acted with duty and resolve as they coped with the difficulties of sitting in steaming water and taking in the view over a grassy valley.
Upon returning to the program house, the crew met some new visitors to New Mexico, including project leaders from California and the Wilderness First Responder instructor, Darcy, who would lead the group in medical training over the next nine days. It was a great experience to build confidence with backcountry skills as everyone learned important first aid techniques, such as how to help a hypothermia victim get warm or how to make a bandage out of medical tape and a latex glove. As medical scenarios took the crew away from the house and into the sandy washes and juniper bushes of the desert, the excitement to get into the field increased. After the five-day break at the end of the training, everyone will get a chance to do just that.