Tag Archives: NCCC

Camp Zanika

Well, we’ve arrive at Camp Zanika, outside of Leavenworth, WA. It took us two days to drive here, which meant we were able to stop at a hotel with a pool and hot tub, which was quite the luxury for us. Yesterday, we drove from Oregon to Washington. When we arrived in Leavenworth we discovered that it is truly a Bavarian town. Every building looks Bavarian, even the McDonalds and Subway.
Continuing on towards the camp, we passed through beautiful forests and by waterfalls. This part of Washington reminds me of Maine, just everything is bigger, from the trees to the mountains. It even smells like Maine, which is a big plus for me. At camp, we were welcomed and given a brief tour of the place, including our living arrangements. We had the choice between cabins that were a 5 minute hike away or platform tents in camp, half the team chose tents, half cabins.
Right now, camp is not yet in session, but for three days an Outdoor Education group of 5th graders is here. Today, we got to shadow counselors teaching activities from ropes course, leave no trace, outdoor living skills, and canoeing. Tonight, we’ll be making s’mores and watching skits the kids created. I’ve been loving our time here so far, it’s been like going to camp myself. Tomorrow, the kids leave and we receive our orientation. Then Monday, the real work should begin, chainsawing and hauling downed trees.
This weekend, we’ll most likely hike to a local lake and explore Leavenworth. So far, I’m very happy with this round.


Long overdue update

I am currently writing this flying over Pennsylvania on my way to Reno, heading back from my brother wedding so that I can go back to work. Now, you might wonder how I got to this point from my last blog post. And here it is…


After leaving Camp Taloali, we spent about a week in Sacramento to complete debriefings from our last project, briefings for our next project, and specialty role training. During this transition, we had a decent amount of free time, which allowed us to prepare for the trainings and paperwork, as well as to explore Sacramento a bit. I was lucky enough to take part in a Service Project in Sacramento. One morning, we headed out around 6:30am in order to volunteer at a 10k/5k race. My job was to make sure all the runners turned where they were supposed to, and to cheer them on a bit.


They was AmeriCorps NCCC works is that our ten months of service are split up into 4 rounds. With each round, you leave on “spike” which is the project you will be working at. Some rounds have multiple spikes, such as my second round when I went to Northwest Trek and Camp Taloali. As well as my third round, which included Camp Tamarancho and Camp Sacramento.


We spent about a month at Camp Tamarancho, which is a boy scout camp for the Marin County boy scouts outside of San Francisco. The camp has multiple camp sites which range from clear ground to raise a tent, to cabins. Boy scouts rent out camp sites over the weekends and there is a day camp throughout the summer. Our first day, we were just proud to have made it up the drive way (an extremely narrow, windy, unpaved road on the side of a cliff) (to give you an idea of how windy and steep, Camp Tamarancho is is part of the mountains where mountain biking was invented and races are still held there). As time went on, we became comfortable with the work and thoroughly enjoyed working with the staff. We spent much of our time completing fuel reduction, which means chopping down dead or hazardous trees and then burning the big pile of wood we create. We also removed invasive species (scotch broom ): ) and completed some carpentry work. Our site sponsor was great at giving us each a project to lead or complete on our own. My project was to replace the camp’s rattlesnake box. See, Camp Tamarancho has a rattlesnake population. The snakes are shy by nature and would prefer to just lay under a log and not be bothered, but if you step on them by accident or threaten them, they will bite. So, when the staff finds a snake too close to kids they will move them somewhere safer. So, with the old box falling apart, I was able to copy the design and build two new boxes. Other carpentry projects included preparing lumber so that boy scouts could turn it into picnic tables, building bunk beds in some of the cabins, and make a compost box so that the camp can start composting.

Other than work, we were able to explore the area a bit. We went to Muir Woods and saw the redwood forest, completed a service in the Presido helping with a YMCA race, completed a Global Youth Service Day project in Oakland sprucing up a community garden, and explored Marin County.


As much as we loved Camp Tamarancho, on May 3rd it was time to move one. So, we got in the van and headed to Camp Sacramento, outside of South Lake Tahoe.


To be continued…..


Fisher getting things done for ‘Merica!

Fisher getting things done for 'Merica!

We created an AmeriCorps “A” for Fisher enrichment.

Alpaugh, sounds like cow paw.

So, I’ve officially spent a week in Alpaugh, CA. Hopefully one day, I’ll have enough internet service to post pictures of this beautiful place, but for now you’ll have to just take my word for it. We live in the “Ameri-mansion,” a ranch style house with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a kitchen, washer and dryer, tv, and an incredible collection of old VHS tapes. The land here is flatter than even Iowa was, so the sun rises and sunsets are spectacular. Our work with the BLM has so far consisted mostly of weed removal, particularly the invasive species Bassia. My new best friend is the Mccloud, a tool with a rake on one side and a sharp flat edge on the other, used to hack away Bassia and other pesky plants. We’ve also spent time doing trash removal, cleaning out storage sheds, removing tumbleweeds (they clog canals), and trimming trees. Through this work, we’ve gotten very familiar with the black-widow spider. Black-widows are poisonous, so knowing they live in our garage is not a comforting thought. We’ve also gotten used to having dust around us all the time. Fairly often we clean the entire house and van, but within the hour they’re covered with dust again.


One of my favorite parts of this job so far has been seeing the BLM’s wetlands. They have this beautiful pond, with a lookout built by a former AmeriCorps team, surrounded by marsh. Working there we get to see all kinds of birds, and fairly often we’ll see a coyote off in the distance.


When we’re not working, we spend a lot of time watching movies and playing cards. While it is not a far walk into town, the only things to do there are eat at the cafe or shop a the convenience store. Once a week we drive to another town to use the internet at Starbucks and go to the grocery store. Overall there’s a lot of time to just sit and relax, which is good because my muscles are usually pretty sore after a day’s work.


Looking at today’s date, I just realized that I missed the midnight showing of Hunger Games. It’s amazing how life still goes on while I’m sitting here disconnected from the world. For example, my new twin cousins Timothy and Joshua were born almost a week ago, and soon after my brother got engaged! Congratulations on both events, I’m so excited!


Well, I believe that’s all I have for now. As always, feel free to shoot me a letter or a text, I love to keep in touch but unfortunately phone calls don’t work right now. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

Americorps NCCC – FEMA Corps

So, this past year I realized that I needed a plan. I was about to graduate, it was time to figure out my life. But, mostly, I still wanted to explore. I had spent the previous year in Paris, learning all about France, the French, and many other cultures from my friends in the Foyer. While living in Paris, I realized that while I loved my time there and the people I met, I am very American. This is not a good or bad thing, it just is. I am the sort of person that loves traveling, learning about new cultures, and is open to living in another country for a period of time. But, when it comes time to settle down and grow up, I want to live in America. I would love to grow old in Connecticut (and by grow old I don’t mean be elderly, I mean start in my 30s or 40s and live there until I could actually be called old, which doesn’t happen for a while despite what people may think).

So, what this means in my round-about way of writing, is that I was looking for a way to see more of America. I had learned an awful lot about Europe, and yet I can’t tell you anything about Americans beyond the East coast beside stereotypes. I decided that I wanted to spend a year volunteering before starting my dream of working in an art museum. A good friend told me about Americorps, so I got online and took a look. While there are many great service opportunities across the US (Teach for America, City Year, etc), most of them involve teaching or tutoring and almost all keep you in the same place doing the same thing for a year or more. Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is unique in that you are assigned a geographic region of the US and you change what you’re doing and the location throughout the 10 months of service, and, bonus, you’re paid, minimum of minimum wage, but paid all the same.

So, I applied for NCCC. And waited, a while, and got put on a wait list, and waited some more. While I waited, I looked and applied for other opportunities, one of which was a new disaster relief division of NCCC partnered with FEMA.

And I got in, to FEMA Corps. HOORAYYYYYY

No sarcasm, I am completely and utterly thrilled to be part of FEMA Corps. 😀

So, what this means is that starting August 28th, and lasting 10 months, I will be part of Americorps NCCC in the North Central Region of the US. This region is based in Vinton, Iowa, but after my training I will be part of a team that could be working in any of the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.

I just got my Welcome Packet, I joined the facebook group, this is really happening. 😀

So, hopefully I’ll be able to use this blog the same way I used it during my year in Paris. I won’t be bringing a computer with me, so I won’t be able to post as often, but I will make an effort to stay updated.

Who knows, my next post might just be about how I have to fit 10 months of my life into a duffle bag. 😉