By: Maureen Hanlon
Here in the Northwest District, crews form just a little later than the rest of the state. We’ve been together for about six weeks now, and I’m glad to report that all is well for the Ottertail crew.
I think the most challenging part of these early weeks is the so-called “training limbo,” the sense that the learning and waiting portion of our service will never end. Questions like, “When will we start actually working?” are frequent, and even as a leader, it becomes difficult to practice patience and steady attention.
Then, lo and behold, work starts! Of course, this is also when all that training makes itself evident. As it turns out, our ragtag and motley group of six is suddenly a cohesive team; a crew, if you will. I’m pleasantly surprised to find some crew traditions already in place: a credit card typo and the work history of several crew members have christened us the Ottertrail crew. Two sessions into Dungeons and Dragons and we’re already unabashedly discussing back-stories and battle tactics in the woods. What it comes down to is that we’re starting to know each other: we know who snores, who needs extra snacks and who likes country music. Six weeks in, and we know how to work together.
The Corps provides an excellent, balanced training in both soft and hard skills early on. Corps members felled their first trees together and hashed out individual and crew goals. We attended a week-long wildfire training and heard stories of past crews on disaster response projects. We worked, slept and ate together for more than four weeks. That’s a lot of hummus for a crew with three vegetarians! The formal aspects of our training have been invaluable. We’ve also had this three-week platform on which to build a team, and to some extent, that’s our real foundation for the year.
Here we go!