It is hard to believe that today is the last full day of the 1st Session of our Youth Conservation Corps. For the youth participants and the supervisors, it has been an intense three weeks and they are probably looking forward to going home. At the same time it will be tough saying goodbye to a group of kids that you have worked and lived with for three weeks.
This is the 8th year for the program and planning is intensive. Gaston Rouse, Virginia State Parks’ Director of Volunteer Services, has approximately an 18 month planning window. Complicating this process is that most of the planning occurs and decisions to proceed with the program are made long before we have any idea what our funding will be for the year. The State operates under a fiscal year that begins July 1 and the majority of the program costs are incurred after July 1 each year. During uncertain budget times (like a major recession) that creates a lot of heart burn.
This year we had fewer programs than any year after year 1 as a result of the budget crisis. At the same time we also had more applicants that we ever had – more than 700. So, we selected about 135 youth out of the 700 plus applicants.
Gaston Rouse and I try to visit all of the programs. In addition to making sure the Supervisors are following program guidelines, we also find the visits to be the most rewarding part of the program for us. It’s a lot of work but when you meet the kids and see how important the program is to them, it makes it all worthwhile.
Unfortunately, we did not get to visit the program at Hungry Mother. Our District Visitor Services Specialist, Amy Atwood, watches out for the programs in southwestern Virginia so our travel schedules are not too unreasonable so she visited the youth and kept an eye out for any problems. So, all Iknow of this crew is the story the photographs tell. Gaston had to apply some pressure on the Supervisors to get their pictures posted and they finally came through yesterday.
We have a week break and the second session begins July 19.