Two weeks ago, our MCC youth leaders and coordinators spent a beautiful week in Missoula learning everything chainsaws. We took chainsaws apart and we put them back together. We learned to buck, limb, and slash cut trees, and even practiced some face cuts for felling. After each day, we meticulously sharpened each tooth and brushed the leftover tree gunk out of every crack in the machine. I had never operated, much less held a chainsaw before and that feeling was awesome, but what made the week even more awesome was the people we got to spend it with. In pairs of two we were placed with different instructors each day. From Kai I learned that patience and repetition is your best friend when learning or teaching something new. From Kelsey I learned that MCC is an organization that will always support you and will have you coming back because of the people you get to work with. And from Ryan I learned that vulnerability allows for more meaningful human connection.
Although my time learning about chainsaws has me deeply considering more work with chainsaws in my future career, what really stuck with me from that week was the late night Catan games in the hostel dining room, the surprise mochi dessert shared after a long day, the steep hike up to the ‘M’ above University of Missoula, the warm afternoon spent hammocking in the sun, the sing along car rides, and the potluck shared with the adult crew leaders of the Western Wildlands office. We were welcomed to the potluck with a feast of homemade goodies including a delicious vegan cheesecake and yummy spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce. The night ended with the largest circle of volleyball that I’ve ever been a part of and resulted in some impressive dives, excellent passes, and multiple retrievals of the ball from a nearby bush.
I feel very grateful to have become a part of such a caring, fun, and encouraging group of people. This past month of service with MCC has given me more guidance and clarity on my future goals than ever before.