Hi reader(s)! Buckle your seatbelts and prepare yourself for a gripping tale of road trips, broken tents, service projects, talent shows, golden tools, and grandma’s house!
That’s right! ALL CORPS! (Ok, Grandma’s house doesn’t relate to All Corps, but I swung by to visit her afterwards!) All Corps is an annual gathering of the Student Conservation Association Corps programs in the Northeast: Hudson Valley (AKAthe best corps!), Adirondack Corps, Massachusetts Corps, and New Hampshire Corps. With the exception of Hudson Valley, all of these programs live and work together for at least part of their season, and for them, attendance at All Corps was mandatory. Mass and NH had about 25 people each, Adirondack had 18, and HV (since it wasn’t required, a lot of people missed out) had only 10 or so. But we made up for our smaller numbers in SPIRIT!
During All Corps, we met at MassCorps’ home base and camped out. We spent the better part of three days meeting new friends, doing a service project at a nearby state forest, and then engaged in a
FIGHT TO THE DEATH I mean, friendly competition. We paired up with Adirondack to become the indomitable New York Corps, since we were outnumbered by Mass and NH. So that’s the road trip part, driving to MassCorps, and the broken tent part- as soon as I tried to set up my beautiful new (okay, new-to-me, but used) tent, one of the poles snapped.
Luckily a NH Corps member I had met during rigging training (flashback! exactly a month ago!) was handy with some duct tape and my tent only had a slight drunken lean. When I later complained about my tent’s malaise on Facebook (later because All Corps was blessedly phone-service and Internet-free) another SCA member directed me to a website where I could buy a new pole section for only $3! This is a great network of savvy folks!
We all spread out across the back meadow at MassCorps’ HQ. Tents ranged from ultralight, one-person bivys (imagine a coffin of mosquito netting) to giant 6-person tents that hosted parties!
MassCorps lives at a GORGEOUS State Forest with a view like this out the windows of their main lodge. I’m not sure I could do a residential corps program (they all live in one big bunkhouse and I like my personal space) but the view would probably be worth it!
Service Project time! Stacking some wood, bucket-brigade style.
Campers and next year’s Corps will have a warm winter with all this firewood!
After the service project, a cookout, and a quick dip in a pond, we had a talent show! Some acts were very well-rehearsed, some were improvised, some heartbreaking and some hilarious. As for myself, I decided to seize the moment and do my only ‘talent’ that doesn’t require props- reciting some Middle English. Yeah, that’s right: Chaucer. I came up and announced myself as the esteemed poet, Geoffery Chaucer, here from the somethingth century to share my epic poem. After a few cracks about the audience not being royalty, the story featuring gap-toothed women (wink, wink,) and Middle English not being like your modern TTYLs, I actually did it-
Whan that Aprille with his shoures saute….
The first 14 lines of the Canterbury Tales that every student in my high school had to memorize Sophomore year. Over 7 years later and I got at least 12 of the 14 lines right and a few people actually came up to me after to say they enjoyed it! That felt great!
The next day was the most exciting part- the
FIGHT TO THE DEATH, I mean, friendly competition! The Hudson Valley Corps dressed in jean shorts, tie-dye, and suspenders, while the Adirondack Corps (the other half of our mega corps team) wore dark green shirts, but we were still able to work together through challenges like the above- ten corps members stand on one bog bridge, lift another one and place it in front of the standing one, move onto the newly placed one, across about 200 feet without touching the ground!
MassCorps (shirts that said “Go Village Slow,” which is on a sign near their HQ) members doing another of the challenges- balancing a tub of water on a bog bridge and hauling it over a course that involved numerous stairs, hills, dips and uneven terrain- MassCorps embodied ‘slow and steady’ because they arrived at the finish line last, but had the most water left in their tub (a feat which earned as many points as arriving first.) Because of the high spirits and good teamwork involved, all three Corps (corpses?) were tied before the final round- a massive tug-of-war tournament. Here’s where we were lucky to be paired with Adirondack Corps- they must spend a lot of time pulling down trees with brute force because they ROCKED the tug-of-war!
The prize for winning first was a Golden Pick-Mattock (center, a tool used for breaking ground and trail building, held by proud members of ADK and HV corps) second was the Silver Swizzle (right, a tool used for trimming brush,) and third was the Copper Loppers (left, which we all agree was the coolest named prize.) Despite the competitive nature and first-second-third rankings, everyone was still in high spirits and hugs and high-fives were exchanged all around. I don’t want to be a bad sport, but I have to be proud that New York claimed the Golden Pick-Mattock for the second year in a row! I’m also proud that we applauded wildly for our ‘competition’ and started mingling with them again as soon as the competition was over.
We finished up All Corps with a big circle, saying what we had loved about the three days we got to spend together. Despite the fact that I hadn’t met 2/3 of these people before, it felt kind of like a family reunion of distant cousins- we all had a lot in common (loving the environment, being willing to work in the tick-filled woods for 10 months, a surprising few liking Chaucer,) and it felt pretty sad to say goodbye!
Speaking of family reunions, since I was already in Massachusetts for All Corps I stopped by my grandma’s house to spend the night, see my cousins, and take advantage of grandma’s blueberry bushes!
Blueberries from Grandma’s house on the left, wineberries from my house on the right! Now all I have to do is continue the family reunion trend and call my aunt who makes jelly/jam/preserves- the blueberries will probably get eaten raw or baked into muffins, but I would love to see what I can do with the wineberries (a relative of raspberries, but they taste a bit strawberry-esque.)
Well! That was my longest blog post in a while! Thanks for reading and hope you had at least a little fun experiencing All Corps through my pictures and words! Keep an eye out next week for a link to a friend’s blog- I have a guest post planned!