Gaston Rouse and I hire the Supervisors and select the youth and hope for the best. Most of the time the best happens and in the case of the York River State Park Youth Conservation Corps crew, we couldn’t have asked for better.
Imet the girls and their parents the first day. Gaston and I always make one park for the first day and it just so happens that York River is pretty close to where I live. I could tell from meeting the parents that this was going to be a good group. If the parents joke around with their kids and engage with the supervisors it’s a good sign. I enjoyed meeting the girls’ parents.
The parents were thrilled because the accommodations at York River were a little better than what we expected. No, the crews do not live in tents. We actually tried that in year 2. Too much rain and high winds in a three week time in a Virginia summer to make that work well. We managed to purchase 12 bunkhouses for the program. The crews in bunkhouses sleep there (they do have A/C – learned that one after the first year when we tried a summer without it) but they use the campground bathhouse. We have some parks with volunteer housing and York River has two FEMA trailers with bathrooms and full kitchens.
The first day of work, the girls knocked out their first project that was supposed to last all week. Seriously. Gaston and I continue to tell the Park staff that the crews do more work than they expect. Park staff continue to be surprised.
Since York River is between my house and my Richmond office, I have stopped by a few times. The main reason was that Itook pity on the group and lent them my state camera. The programs are still using the cameras we bought in 2002 – with 2 whole mega pixels. The problem is we take a group photo that we enlarge to 8.5 by 11 for their graduation certificate. The lead Supervisor worked first session and was telling me how bad the group photo looked. York River is also on dial up internet still. Hard to believe – in Williamsburg, Virginia and no DSL, cable or fiber optic. So Ihave been picking up their memory cards and loading their photos for them.
Today Gaston and Ipaid our official visit to the girls and took them to lunch at Peking in Williamsburg. Gaston and Ihave a particular fondness for the Surry ferry so we took the girls across the ferry for a quick drive through Chippokes Plantation State Park and back across the ferry. When you look at the slide show and see all the girls sleeping in the van – that’s what full tummies and a long ride will do to hard working Youth Corps members!
I have to say we had some great supervisors here. Emily Patterson was a supervisor for us last year and came back this year, leading the Smith Mountain Lake crew first session. Sally Scott was new to the program this year and worked with Emily at Smith Mountain. Finally, Christina Williams is the intern. Interns are youth that just graduated high school and have previously been in the program as youth crew members.
An intern is the only member of the crew that doesn’t apply – we select the interns based on their performance as crew members. Often the interns were Emmitt Award winners or otherwise distinguished themselves as crew members. Christina reminded me today that her second year as a Crew member she was at one of our programs that Gaston and I consider less successful. We had some major issues with what Gaston would call “billeting” or normal people would say housing. The girls started in tents and ended up in a small non-air conditioned windowless room. But as Christina pointed out today “Icame back anyway – it was still fun.”