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Field Program

[Image Description: Two MCC members taking a brief break; one is sitting on a rock, the other is standing nearby. They are both in their uniforms, looking out at the expansive, mountain view surrounding them.]

A Letter To My Crew

Crew members walking down a trail. The member closest to the camera has a sweatshirt with "Montana Conservation Corps" on the back.

A Letter To My Crew
By Ali Kimball

There have been few times in my life when I’ve truly processed the passing of time. Mostly during big keystone events such as birthdays, New Year's Eve, and graduation. But each time I do, it brings a ginormous gulp of bittersweetness to my taste buds. One that leaves me excited for the future, but also in grievance for moments that I will never experience again. People that I’ll never hear laugh again. Places that will never look the same. Food that can’t be created exactly the same way. Endings tend to bring up how fleeting these moments really are.

Today was the last day of my Summer 2023 Montana Conservation Corps season. I didn’t expect to cry until my Crew Member (my inseparable other half this summer) Lucy played our summer anthem Feels Like Heaven by Ariel Pink in the rig on the way to our worksite. As the familiar tune played and the sun painted over the Bridger Mountains, the lump in my throat grew and grew until it couldn’t get any bigger, and salty tears started sprinting down my face. A collage of memories from this season started flooding my mind as I tried to blink away my blurry vision so that I could take in the gorgeous scenery outside the window for one of the last times.

The collage was filled with little moments (of course.) The moments that you don’t appreciate enough until endings like these sneak up on you when you are not yet ready to say goodbye. The morning dancing at the start of the stretch circle that most of the crew rolled their eyes at, yet secretly giggled and participated in. The over-the-top singing mid-hitch when everyone started to lose their marbles. The MAC AND CHEESE DOGS!!! The belly laughing over the same moment that happened two hitches ago that we couldn’t seem to forget. The way my sleeping bag comforted me after a long day of work. The same five songs that somehow snuck their way into being played on repeat every week.

As much as I’ll miss screaming all the lyrics to Seabird by the Alessi Brothers every time we got in the rig, what I’m truly going to miss are the people who were singing right along with me. My crew who supported each other on those crazy long days and laughed by my side when my eyes were tear-filled with exhaustion. My leaders who pushed me to explore out of my comfort zone in a safe way. My project partners who remained patient and kind. The warm welcome-back smiles from the office when we stepped off the rig smelling like death. Lucy, my crew member who never turned down an opportunity to jump into a freezing cold creek with me.

The cliche is always about the little moments meaning the most, but what I believe makes the little moments the most meaningful are the crazy people surrounding you during them. I love you Gray, Sophia, Jack, Karyn, and Lucy. Thank you for making the little moments this summer the most meaningful.