The first two weeks of The Mountain Institute's Mountain Trail Monitors summer program has wrapped as a huge success, officials said, with nine trails and more than 24 miles of trail work and monitoring completed by the session's three student crews.
Groups were based in the Seneca Creek Backcountry and Laurel Fork Wilderness areas of the Monongahela National Forest, maintaining and monitoring the trail while backpacking between base camp sites.
Twenty-six Morgantown students participated in the program and received 40 hours of community service time for their efforts.
Upon returning from the field, a student said of his experience, "I don't think the people back home realize what is in their surroundings. I've never looked so closely at the little things before, and now I'm curious to learn more about them." Another exclaimed, "This is the best I've felt in 2013!"
Funding for the program comes from a grant through the U.S. Forest Service and the Secure Rural Schools Act, which invests money in the communities that use and care for federal lands. The grant awarded to TMI allows eight weeks of the program throughout the next five years.
Each trip begins with an introduction to camping, group living and the principles of sustainable trail maintenance. Days are spent working on the trails, while evenings are dedicated to wilderness skills such as camp craft, survival, fire building, Leave No Trace ethics, and map and compass reading, as well as fun campfire activities.
Following a week in the woods, participants head to Spruce Knob Mountain Center to relax before culminating their experience with a hike up Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. All food, equipment and instruction are provided without a fee to students.
There is still space available for high school students in Mountain Trail Monitors summer camp for the July 7 and July 21 sessions. Interested in participating? For more information, contact Melinda Brooks at 304-567-2632 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Details are available at mountain.org/mtm.