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Trail Spice and Everything Nice

For three days, MCC’s South Youth Program leaders went on a mini-hitch to Missoula to learn and practice our field skills. We learned so much from our MCC leaders as well as each other. The best part, though, was bonding and becoming even better friends.

Rolling into our campsite at Rock Creek the first day, there was a collective sigh of joy in the MCC rig. All of us were so ready to ground ourselves in the outdoors and for the rejuvenation that comes with doing so. At camp, we learned about institutional camping and spike camp setup. Each of us took part in the classic Duffle Shuffle. Marisa, our youth program coordinator, taught us the bowline, clove hitch, and trucker hitch knots and we used them to set up tarps. YCC leader Mary ran us through the tenets of Leave No Trace. Expedition Leader Demi’s talk on seasonal rounds encouraged us all to reflect in ways we have not before. Amidst all this learning, we hammocked, waded into the creek, and cooked some delicious spike meals together.

In addition, we put in some trail work! We lent our skills to the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation department to help them reroute the Sunlight trail. After a lesson on trail anatomy -- backslope, hinge, tread, critical edge, braids -- we got to work. Some cut backslope, others raked the excess dirt away, and the rest shoveled spoils to spread them out. We all walked out of there with our hands (and faces) dirty, our feet tired, and our hearts full.

On our last night, Senior Expedition Leader Ryan gave us an opportunity to share with others what we appreciate about them and receive affirmations in return. Each of us took a step back, looked around, and realized what an incredible crew of people we have. The past few weeks of training, making friendships, and strengthening co-leader partnerships has made us ready for an awesome summer with our youth participants.

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