Our youth constantly amaze us with their can-do attitude and their desire to be of service to their communities. So when Westville Manor Leaders-in-Training decided to do an “extra C-SAP” to help New Haven recover from Hurricane Sandy, we just sat back at let them do their thing.
After talking to a few New Haven residents, the youth decided that the work that still needed to be done were in the parks – trails had still not been cleared, and it was difficult for them to embark on some of their favorite hikes. So we enlisted the support of the West Rock Trail Association, who by chance was heading into the park to clear trails that very week.
So the youth dragged themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn and met Tom Ebersold, one of WRTA’s superstar volunteers at the entrance into the park. The beginning of the trail didn’t look too bad – the youth cleared fallen branches and loose stones and tossed them deep into the woods. A quarter mile in, they hit their first big obstacle – a red oak that had been uprooted by strong winds and fallen directly across the trail that they used regularly to get to Judge’s Cave.
The youth went over safety procedures one more time, including the “CIRCLE OF DEATH”, the aptly named circumference that must be maintained around people who are using sharp tools. Then they rolled up their sleeves, picked up the hand saws, and started the arduous, back breaking work of sawing the tree into small logs that they could move off the trail.
It took nearly 30 minutes, but with a loud CRACK, they finally finished the last cut and continued up the trail.
Along the way, Tom stopped to show youth how to identify invasive species during the winter months when they’ve lost their leaves – such as the autumn olive, which wraps around trees and prevents healthy growth.
By the time the morning was through, all the volunteers were sweaty and exhausted. They cleared two miles of trail and cleared three full-grown trees! Wow! Thanks Leaders in Training!