Volunteer and Give Back!

Lost Creek WildernessRecently my wife and I have been talking about volunteering again. Before the kids came along we spent four summers volunteering to build and maintain hiking trails here in Colorado. Looking back, many of those outings where spectacular events. Not only did we “give back” to our state in the form of muscle and sweat but we also made some great friendships and enjoyed many weekend trips throughout our state.

Our organization of choice was VOC (Volunteers for Outside Colorado). We picked this organization mainly because they focused maintaining hiking trails throughout Colorado. My first exposure to VOC was on Earth Day. I spent the day cleaning up a trail along the South Platte river near Denver. I didn’t particpate again until I met my wife. She and I used the VOC outings for desinations early on in our relationship. We were always on the lookout for ways to spend time outside. Our second date was even at a VOC event in Colorado National Monument.

What I remember most about our time spent volunterring, is a great sense of pride and accomplishment. We spent long, sometimes agonizing days in the hot summer sun – moving boulders, creating switchbacks, smoothing trails, cutting back brush. We did all of this as a way of giving back to the wilderness that we so love. Many of my most memorable trips in Colorado have been on the very trails we worked to maintain.

Now that our daughters are getting older, we feel it’s time for them to also participate in volunteerism. Not only will they feel that same sense of accomplishment, they’ll also learn new skills in trail managment, be exposed to other kids doing the same thing and they’ll get to enjoy the many nights spent at the community dinner and campfire, post-trail maintance. They are wonderful times full of camradarie and cheer. For those of you that are interested, here are a few organizations dedicated to prevserving Colorado’s pristine environment:

Volunteer Outdoor Colorado

American Trails

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative

Division of Wildlife, State of Colorado

State Parks, Colorado

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