September 24, 2018

For this blog post, I feel like answering the question, what is P-CREW? P-CREW is a super, fantastic, incredible, transforming, healing, hardworking, tough crying, deep sharing, smelly, dirty, silly, fun, frustrating, forever life changing experience. In short, PCREW is all the things.

Hmm… let’s bring it down to a flyer lever. P-CREW is a youth conservation corps. It provides teenagers (15-18 years old) from urban and rural backgrounds the opportunity to live and work in the woods of Plumas and Lassen counties. It teaches them conservation and life skills, while giving them a safe place to open-up, question, explore and get to know people their age from completely different backgrounds. P-CREW makes the forest healthier through the efforts of these youth and sets a foundation for deeper benefits as they grow up.

That’s not quite it. P-CREW is ridiculous. It’s isolation with the same people for 5 weeks. It’s laughing hysterically because you made up a silly handshake. It’s repeating the same joke over and over again and it just getting funnier. P-CREW is kids being childish. Swimming in lakes, running like deer, complaining about work, dreaming of better food.

Yet, P-CREW is also hard. It’s a full-time job outside on hot days and camping in the cold nights. P-CREW takes more work than any of these youth have had to do before. It’s lifting heavy logs, it’s hacking through willows, it’s moving actual tons of rocks. P-CREW pays the crew members because it is work, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s sweat, it’s bee stings, it’s frustration. It’s accomplishment. P-CREW throws 22 untrained hands to make more burn piles, clear more trail, construct more fence, remove more invasive plants than any outside adults expect. P-CREW does real work by real youths.

P-CREW is also education. P-CREW teaches forest and fire ecology, plant identification, watersheds, proper tool methods, cooking, cleaning, habitat restoration, hard work, conflict resolution skills, and the importance of taking care of our natural landscapes. It teaches all this without a single PowerPoint. Crew members don’t learn these things while sitting at a desk in an air-conditioned building. They learn them while sweating and working. They learn the importance of vegetation on water quality by the smell and gunk of a stream we are rehabilitating. They learn fire ecology while building burn piles. They learn the plants and birds and reptiles as they build a trail in the wilderness. These lessons are not kept in notebooks, they are held in sore muscles.

And yet, all this is still not P-CREW. P-CREW is so much more. I don’t know exactly when or how, but at some point, the life of each person involved with P-CREW changes. Different people walk out than came in. It is unlike anything else. I can’t fully explain what it is, but I know that it’s worth it.