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Nudists, bear hunters, and Baptists? Oh my!: service trips provide exciting yet meaningful break experience

Morgan Steele, Staff Writer (msteele@wwc)

Cumberland Island, GA

Student leaders: Hayley Hoover, junior; Lora Moon, senior
Faculty/staff leaders: Tom LaMuraglia, Landscaping Crew Supervisor; Robert Hastings, Environmental Studies
Location: Cumberland Island, South East Georgia
Work: Built picnic tables, cleared debris from the foundation of a historic 19th century house, and completed a variety of tasks for the National Park Service.
Purpose of work: Cumberland Island is an 18 mile long barrier island that hosts one of the United States’ largest remaining maritime forests. The National Park Service needs volunteers to help protect and preserve the land.
Highlights: Lassoed armadillos, went swimming, made campfires, searched for sharks teeth.
Low lights/disappointments: “At first I kind of felt like picnic tables were busy work… They didn’t know what to give us and they were so disorganized. We were really ready to work and the work was so scattered, so there were lots of ups and downs.” – Laila Ewing, junior
Organizations worked with/through: National Park Service, an organization overseen by the US Department of the Interior which seeks to protect and conserve America’s national parks.
An Odd Encounter: While the group was on the island, there were some complaints about a male nudist who would making other campers on the island feel really uncomfortable by asking them to frolic naked on the beach with him.

Appalachian Trail
Student leaders: Caleb Mende, junior
Faculty/staff leader: Phil Wiltzius, Area Coordinator
Location: Western North Carolina (The trail goes along the Tennessee-North Carolina border)
Work: Scouted out and relocated part of the trail.
Reason for Volunteering at this location: There are more and more hikers taking on parts of the Appalachian Trail each year, and at this groups particular location, part of the trail was very steep and needed to be rerouted to facilitate hiking.
Highlights: Hiked every day, met hikers and campers (including one bear hunter manned with a rifle.)
Low lights/disappointments: “We didn’t have a whole lot of work to do, so that was kind of disappointing… I would have liked to see a little more organization to feel as though my time was being put to good use.” – Hannah Billian
Organizations worked with/through: Smokey Mountain Hiking Club, an 86 year old organization that conducts hiking outings and works to preserve and maintain portions of the Appalachian Trail.
Friendly Faces: Stew, One of the two men from the Smokey Mountain Hiking Club, remembered all of the names from the Warren Wilson groups who volunteered last spring and fall.

War, WV
Student leader: Derek Clatterbuck, senior
Faculty/staff leader: Brooke Millsaps, Director of Service Learning
Location: War, WV
Reason for Volunteering at this location: “I went there freshman year with Andy Summers, so the trip was in honor of Andy… McDowell County, WV is definitely one of the poorest counties if not the poorest county in the United States. It’s like social justice issue after social justice issue is piled up there… They need things like a fresh coat of paint and a new toilet. They deserve those things.” – Derek Clatterbuck
Work: Painted a house, helped out at a local haunted house.
Highlights: Went for a big hike, danced, spent time with families, got blessed at a Baptist church, Christian York, freshman, smashed his face into an old cake.
Low lights/disappointments: None.
Organizations worked with/through: Big Creek People in Action, a nonprofit organization local to War, WV that works to build community and help citizens find jobs.
Food for Thought: “It’s interesting to face what appears to be abject poverty in the United States, and to meet the people behind that who are absolutely beautiful people. They don’t feel as though they are living in abject poverty. It kind of challenges students from our ultimately upper class background here – I guess, middle class background – and challenges their ideas of poverty and Appalachia.” – Clatterbuck


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