These past few weeks during my time in the VetsWork GreenCorps program have been wonderful, painful and enlightening to say the least. My expectations here have changed from my initial thought process and continue to change every day. My experiences here with our crew have been single handedly one of the most memorable times of my life. We started as strangers and now have come together as teammates and good friends. Let me go ahead and tell you my tale of the ‘Wild Boys” and our adventures.
These last 10 weeks here at the Umatilla National Forest have been nothing like I expected; I knew I wanted to get in this line of work and clearly this was my gateway in. I had no clue it would be as physically demanding as it is. Although I battled through rucks, runs and pull-ups, I overcame these obstacles and I am getting stronger every day. My initial view was it would be a military structured program, similar to a 12-week boot camp. While it definitely has been tough, we have freedom to spend our 3-day weekends as we wish (which I enjoy).
The crew here has been one of the best parts. Although we all have to deal with our own demons, we have bloomed together and have become a well-oiled machine for the most part; we still have a couple kinks to workout. We definitely all have that “can do” attitude and want to be the best at what we do, so that competitiveness has established a great base for us to come together. The military type attitude we all share combined with demented jokes and light-hearted mentalities have us thinking we all are back with our crews in the military.
My main plan for this summer is to go on as many fires as I possibly can. I would also like to experience the Pacific Northwest and try as many activities it has to offer as I can. This will boost my passion for the outdoors and help me in my next steps of pursuing a career in wildland firefighting. I hope to either get on a hotshot crew next year or try and get into a journeyman program. All of the skills I have acquired this season–sawyer certification, red card, and BLS (Basic Life Saving) skills– will help me pursue these dreams. Not only have I learned various important skills, I also have made fun memories. My most enjoyable memory was the hike we all did after divide camp. It was one of the toughest and most majestic hikes I ever been on; it was definitely worth the 3 hours of pain.