It is no secret that I am proud of the Youth Conservation Corps and Youth Corps program as a whole. A lot of the pride is a direct result of the sweat equity that Gaston Rouse and I have applied to this progra, but it is much more than that.
I have probably mentioned that the best part of the program for both Gaston and I is actually meeting the participants. Over the years we have had a number of youth attend the program multiple years. Several have started out as crewmembers and become supervisors of the program. We get a little attached to these folks.
The veteran of all veterans is Casey Duvall. Casey started as a Crewmember at False Cape State Park in 2002, our first year. That same year, his sister Megan was a Crew Supervisor at Hungry Mother State Park. Later his mother, Marsha, would be a Crew Supervisor at Chippokes Plantation State Park. A cancer survivor at that time, Marsha was planning to come back as a Supervisor again when the cancer came back with a vengeance and took her too early. So the Duvall family has always been my poster family for the YCC.
In 2008 we asked Casey to join us as we received the Governor’s Volunteerism Award for best youth program. It was fitting he would be there. This year we invited Casey’s crew to the Pocahontas United We Serve event. The following interview was done during that event:
Gaston and Ihave several Casey stories. My favorite is that he wasn’t sure he was real keen on attending this program in 2002. When he filled out his application, he wrote on the very bottom “Don’t pick me.” His mother whited it out. The rest is history. Mother always knows best!
Gaston and I were traveling visiting crews in 2004 when we had word that Casey had fallen at Kiptopeke State Park and was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance. We were having dinner at a Pizza Restaurant in Independence, Virginia, a long haul from the Eastern Shore. Fortunately we got word pretty quickly that he was fine. This was one time I was pleased that I had bad cell service since we were delayed hearing the worrisome part of the news almost until we got the call that all was well.
Casey started our program as a 14 year old boy and today leads the crew at Westmoreland State Park for his eighth and final year. He graduated from college this year.