Skip to main content

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.]

"Character Building" Patience and Perseverance during a Snowy June Day

A crew member shovels dirt from the back of a white pickup truck while a project partner stands behind the truck.

Last Monday, I awoke to a typical June morning in the upper elevations of Montana: an inch of snow. As my YCC crew had assembled that morning, I could tell that there was little enthusiasm among the youth around the prospect of starting their work week with wet, cold, and snowy conditions.

The original plan that Monday had been to fill potholes around Georgetown Lake. However, due to Georgetown Lake’s higher elevation, the lake received five inches of snow compared to the ranger station’s inch of snow. These conditions made it difficult to identify and fill potholes. We waited for over an hour for the Forest Service to devise a new plan for us. Thankfully, during this time, my co-lead Nick and I were able to engage the youth in activities from MCC’s CORE curriculum. The Forest Service then asked us to sharpen tools until they decided whether we could fill potholes in the afternoon. While Nick and I tried to keep the youth busy, there were many moments to practice patience as the Forest Service, Nick, and I tried to figure out what our next steps should be.

The good news was that our opportunity to practice patience did not end that morning. The Forest Service decided that we could go to Georgetown Lake in the afternoon to fill potholes with gravel. However, when the crew arrived at Georgetown Lake, a different, unforeseen obstacle had arisen. A project partner from the Forest Service was to pick up gravel in Philipsburg and meet us at Georgetown Lake. Unfortunately, however, nobody could find the owner of the gravel pit in Philipsburg (don’t worry, he turned out to be fine). We learned the next day that he had gone to Missoula to pick up a piece of equipment. Consequently, the Forest Service had to go all the way to Anaconda to get gravel. Nobody was certain when the gravel would arrive. However, it caused us to wait for over an hour, in our cars, trying to escape the freezing rain and snow, as we waited for the gravel.

It felt nice to finally start working. Although, the conditions remained wet and cold for the rest of the day. To complete our work, these conditions required the ability to maintain a positive attitude and to accomplish the task despite its difficulties. In other words, it required perseverance. And persevered the crew did. Everyone on the crew helped with the project in any way they could. I was proud of my crew for overcoming the challenges of the day and persevering. As their supervisor from the Forest Service agreed, the day was a “character-building” experience!