As the second stint of the summer comes to a close, both the Valley and its inhabitants begin to bare unmistakable traces of one another’s influence. Our backs are bronzed, our calves are strengthened, and we swing our machetes with a swiftness we hardly thought possible before.
The Valley, too, evolves. Slowly but significantly, our treasured turf begins to take on the appearance of a functioning community. This past stint involved several crucial steps that helped to transform our patch of wilderness into a navigable camp, all the while maintaining the integrity of the surrounding ecosystem.
As an outdoor rec intern, my job is to better establish the Valley as a thriving, alluring community by providing activities that stimulate the body and mind of Valley inhabitants. We want our community members to play. Enjoyment breeds appreciation, while appreciation cultivates compassion. To have compassion for the natural splendor of the earth is to care deeply about its preservation, a sentiment that we wish to impart.
With this goal in mind, myself and 5 other O.R interns set out to make the Valley a more stimulating place. We trail blaze, we explore, we route out new hikes, trails, and expeditions. We design and construct, we tinker and fiddle, we dive and we swim and we call it work.
So what, you may ask, have we actually done?
As for me, my personal project is the creation of an equestrian program for the Valley. The role of horses in “Kalu Yala Escapes,” our future ecotourism scene, is invaluable. Not only is horseback riding an enjoyable pastime, it is also less physically taxing than are the strenuous hikes around the Valley. This opens Kalu Yala Escapes to a whole new range of demographic audiences, broadening our general appeal.
The presence of horses also offers more traditional advantages such as emergency transportation, fertilizer for the agricultural fields, as well as increases in the efficiency of project completion (a horse can transport several hundred pounds of building materials, a feat which requires plenty of time and manpower on foot.)
I’ve spent the better half of the last two weeks planning out our future equestrian zone. I have determined the location and design of the future grazing area, lean-to, tack room, and training pen. With the sketches laid out and the areas zoned, we will soon be ready to build. With much of the preparation done, I am beyond excited to start building when we return to the Valley this week.
When not preoccupied with zoning and sketching, I keep myself busy with smaller side projects. These are mostly fun and (comparatively) easy tasks that only take a few hours to complete but help to beautify camp in some way. Some side projects I’ve worked on include the Chest o’ Crap, the communal bookcase, and the clearing out of what will eventually be Yogaland, a sandy haven in the foliage where you can step into a surreal zone of rejuvenation.
The Valley Kids, as a team and as individuals, have a lot planned for our next stint in the Valley. I eagerly await my departure from the city so I can jump back into my hiking boots, my sweat-drenched bandanas, and turn my visualizations into reality. I’ve never felt so impassioned.