Environmental Corps Builds a Playground

Let’s KaBOOM! this.

On Thursday, September  20th 6 crew members/leaders and I went to Bastrop to volunteer with the Bastrop Long Term Recovery Team as Build Captains with KaBOOM!– a non-profit organization focused on keeping play in children’s lives by constructing playgrounds in parks around the US. As Build Captains, we lead crews of 10 to 30 in constructing different parts of the playground and park area. Some leaders were in charge of bolting together pieces, cementing in all the beams, and even putting in and planting a community garden, which was my job.

The day started early for us, arriving in Bastrop at 6:30am so that we could prepare the site and get out all of the tools and supplies that would be needed.  Volunteers started arriving in waves from 7:30 to 8:30 representing groups like PALS, a community service group at Bastrop High School, The ESPN Longhorn Network, HEB, Texas Forest Service, and many community members. We fueled up with breakfast tacos, got the blood flowing with an aerobics warm up, and got a pep-talk from Allie, our Building Coordinator. After our opening ceremony, the volunteers were divided up in to their crews, identified by Disney characters, and scattered around the work sites to begin their project, for we had only 6 hours to complete a whole park.

My job was to get the garden beds ready for planting and plant all the plants that were donated to the park. My group was made up of the high school students from Bastrop that were part of PALS. These young individuals were such a blast to work with. As soon as we got our crew together they were anxious to know what the directions were, where everything was, want needed to be planted… their excitement was so contagious that it made the project not only get finished smoothly, but beautifully as well. Right before we planted the vegetables and herbs, we had over 20 elementary students come in to learn how to plant. The high school members jumped right in, took a few kids, and helped them get their hands dirty. I’ve never seen a garden get planted to fast.

While working with my group, I made sure to make my rounds, check in on other ECorps members and see how the playground was progressing. What a surprise I got when I looked up and saw shade structures, a cement block pathway, and all of those scattered parts being put together. It was all coming together into one fantastic looking park. Families and children will be going to this park for years to come, to play, picnic, and enjoy the scenery, but I will always have that memory of seeing nothing in that spot, and within one day’s work, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, watching a park get put together, piece by piece.

Elaine Felten, ECorps Field Coordinator

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Environmental Corps in South Texas

As we descended down the map to Lake Amistad, our first stop turned out to be the Mexico border which we managed to find by driving only a few short minutes after missing our turn in Del Rio. This was exciting for us since I don’t think anyone on our crew thought we would be that close to Mexico! Soon after our little detour, we met up with our project partner Pat Wharton, whom we first met in Oklahoma on our trip to the Black Kettle National Grasslands. It was a privilege and honor to work and learn from Pat again and we were all happy and excited to see him. Besides working with a great supervisor, we were lovingly taken under the wing of the wonderful staff of Lake Amistad who took extra measures to make sure we were fully stocked with ice and gatorade everyday. Between the invasive work, the great partners, and the awesome lake to cool off in each day, I think it’s safe to say that this was one trip that will not soon be forgotten!

Colin Trotter, ECorps Member

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