The Student Conservation Association's Online Community
Let’s start with the basics. I am currently residing in the beautiful Bear Brook State Park, located in Allenstwon, New Hampshire. It is about 10,000 acres, which is a decent sized backyard to play in. In the winter it is closed except for hiking and snowmobiling, so we mostly have it to ourselves, but in the spring and summer the park is opened as a campground (hint, hint, if anyone wants to visit). My fellow corps members and I live pretty secluded, nestled in the far south eastern corner of the park. To get back to civilization we have to drive down a 3 mile dirt road, and then another 20 or so miles to get into the main hub of Allenstown and Hooksett. The nearest city is Manchester, about 45 minutes away, which is actually pretty nice for a city.
I couldn’t ask for better living situations while staying in a state park. My favorite part is the cabins, and the fact that as soon as I step outside of them I am in the middle of the woods. Currently we have five cabins, two eight-person cabins for the ladies, and two four-people cabins and one eight person cabin for the gents. There are several more cabins, but they are not livable in winter because they do not have wood stoves. Yep, wood stoves! Our cabins do not have electricity, so we need to make a fire each night to stay warm. I reside in the Batcave (the eight-person guy’s cabin). I love all the space we have in that cabin, but unfortunately we also have the smallest wood stove, so it doesn’t keep our cabin all that warm, but it is comfortable enough. Along with the wood stove, each cabin is fitted with some bunk beds and a random allotment of furniture such as sofas, dressers, and tables. I love the simplicity of it all. And no, there are no bathrooms (unless you count the great outdoors). If we do need to relieve ourselves in a more comfortable location we have to head to the lodge.
(Inside the Batcave).
(The always hungry Smaug, our wood stove).
The lodge is the central hub for our corps group. It acts as our kitchen, dining room, lounge, work space, restroom, shower, laundry room, game room, movie theatre, and dance hall. Unlike our cabins, we do have electricity here. We also have internet, but we only get 10g of it a month split between 32 people, so it is very precious. The food here is really amazing. For the most part it is only vegetarian, except for the rare occasions that we get donations of meat. I will admit that I had my doubts about vegetarian diets, but this is honestly some of the best food I have eaten in my life, and it’s all thanks to Sue, one of our staff and community members. Her cooking skills are phenomenal and she always around to help the teaching teams when it is there turn to cook a meal. Last Wednesday my teaching team and I cooked up a veggie stir fry with zucchini fritters and a beat salad. I am usually pretty good at finding my way around the kitchen, but cooking for cooking for 33 people is a huge challenge.
(Everyone hard at work making lesson plans)
(One of our four 12 person vans. We use these to drive into Manchester schools and for other events nearby)
The first few weeks here, all we did was orientation and education training. Sometimes the training days felt like they went on forever, but they definitely prepared us well for the education season. Once we got split into our 2-3 person teaching groups things began to pick up real fast. During the education season we will be teaching fourth and fifth grade students, from the city of Manchester, about nature and the environment over a ten week period. Each week we prepare lessons and then teach them right in their own classroom. Some of the topics we cover include: habitats, predator and prey relationships, photosynthesis, and earth stewardship and sustainability. My team has 6 classes of 4th graders, and we also volunteer at the Salvation Army and an after school program called 21st century. This week we are teaching our third lesson, which will cover animal tracks and sign. I am really excited for this lesson because we borrowed materials such as tracks, skulls, and furs, from the NH Fish and Game. I cannot wait until the kids feast their eyes on the giant moose skull we are bringing in. Having the chance to interact with all these kids is so amazing. I love seeing their faces light up when they learn something new.
Having fun and staying active is real easy with my new family. There is always something happening on the weekends whether its hiking the trails, volunteering with other organizations, or kicking butt in basketball, volleyball, or dodgeball at the salvation army teen nights. We also have a lot of music lovers. Guitars, pianos, harmonicas, banjos, and mandolins are some of the many instruments you might hear at our Wednesday night jam sessions. Since we all come from various backgrounds and locations, we all have skills that we contribute to the community. To cash in on that even further we set up classes every so often on skills that people are interested in teaching or learning such as; knife sharpening, primitive skills, dancing, knitting etc. Everyone has a lot to share and learn. Oh! And board games, we cannot forget about them. I do not think there has been a night that Settler’s of Catan has not been played. Also Magic the Gathering has taken the group by storm (for good or for worse) ever since someone found cheap cards at the local Good Will. But basically there is never a dull moment here at Bear Brook. With 27 other corps members its really easy to find something to do.
(It's always fun with my new family)
Anyway, I think I have babbled enough for one night. There is so much to share, but I guess I can always touch on them later. Hope you all enjoyed my first entry. There will be more to come. I am hoping to get started tanning my deer hide. I will attempt to document the process and let you guys know how it comes out. Thanks for reading ya’ll!