Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Base to Base Camp at Mount Rainier: SCA Program to help Military Families enjoy outdoor recreation and help conservation efforts

In partnership with the National Park Service, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Sierra Club and the Office of Congressman Norm Dicks, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) is leading a demonstration project to create a conservation service and outdoor recreation opportunity for the dependents of active service military families.

This summer, SCA will be fielding a conservation crew of eight teenagers from military families serving from Joint Base Lewis/McChord (JBLM) into Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. The crew members will be accomplishing critical trail-building and habitat restoration projects for this iconic national park that has enjoyed a partnership with SCA for over 40 years. The crew will camp and work for 15 days at Mount Rainier in both backcountry and front country settings August 6-20, 2012. Tangible outcomes will include trail(s) built, restored or maintained and habitat areas restored.

The program will offer hands-on, practical work skills, environmental knowledge, personal growth, awareness of career opportunities, as well as connectivity to the dedicated professionals of the National Park Service.

SCA will recruit a crew composed of eight high school students between the ages of 15-19 from military families stationed at JBLM. SCA is working with the Child, Youth and School Services program (CYSS) of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office at JBLM in implementing the program. CYSS expertise and familiarity with participating students (and families) will be critical to the program’s success. SCA sees this first-year demonstration program as replicable and scalable, with strong possibilities for providing a pathway for the members to other SCA opportunities.

There is also a great opportunity for expansion to other military bases where both parents and children are feeling the strains of the sacrifices they are making in service to their country. SCA will plan for multiple crews to place and serve military families, including reaching out to Yakima Training Center (under JBLM administration) and the Yakima Nation. SCA is evaluating opportunities to increase our reach to Naval Base Kitsap and other installations.

SCA and JBLM are exploring the possibilities of facilitating on base SCA programs to help the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program staff connect with the forestry program already well-established on base. SCA sees great opportunity for developing youth members to become mentors on base and share in conservation activities with younger children. As members matriculate into the program, SCA will provide tuition free opportunities for “Base to Base Camp” members to serve in SCA programs throughout the country.

Almost 2 million children in the U.S. have parents that are military service members. The need to educate and serve these children is a national concern; SCA is proud to provide leadership, support, and opportunities for these young Americans and their families.

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