Douthat State Park, Va.
Looking around the campfire, everyone engaged in a conversation or laughing at inside jokes, it appeared that we had all been friends for forever. No one could have guessed that this group of fifteen students had just met a few days ago. Traveling from Keene State College to Virginia, forgetting about technology (because we had to without service), and beautifying Douthat State Park created a bond between all of us that we could not deny.
It was the last night in the park so we were roasting marshmallows around a fire in an area that we were cleaning up just hours before. Ranger Josh, who directed us in our community service, suggested that we share our “happy and crappy” moments for the week.
He went first, saying his “happy” was seeing the results of our hard work. Throughout the week we removed fallen branches and sticks, raked leaves, prepared areas for mulch and more. Ranger Josh stated, in his Southern accent, “Students like y’all give me hope for the next generation.” He commended us for spending our Spring Break volunteering and making a difference in the park.
Kathleen Kanaley, a sophomore, expressed that she appreciated how important the work we did when we hiked the Blue Suck Falls, a scenic trail, was. A stream flowed in and out of the trail, causing us to balance across fallen trees just to get across. The stream lead up to a gorgeous, three-tiered waterfall with crystal blue water that some drank straight from. We sat there for a long time, amazed by the beauty of the view. It gave us all a “high” that is only attainable from a deep appreciation of nature.
Some stated that their “happy” of the trip was participating in a mock-emergency situation involving the surrounding police departments. The park had been planning this scenario where a shooter would be in the park and they needed people to act as civilians or victims. Monique Troiano and Brittany Kunkel, leaders of the trip, had make-up put on them and acted as gun-shot victims.
Others, like Erin Donnelly and Elizabeth Koutroubas, both sophomores, were told to wait in cabins and were eventually evacuated by the S.W.A.T. team. The scenario was a success and the students involved agreed that it was important to participate so we could experience how an emergency situation would be handled.
A recurring “crappy” moment for the group was that the trip was coming to an end. Sophomore Nicole Provensal expressed how happy she was that she stepped out of her comfort zone and met so many new friends. Many felt that the trip was a refreshing change from the everyday life at KSC and agreed that they would do another ASB trip. Talking in Southern accents, getting too competitive in the game Catch Phrase, burning dinner and getting cabin fever are memories that we will never forget. The Virginia Alternative Spring Break group set out to clean up Douthat State Park; we accomplished that while making new friends and memories along the way.