The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This unpaid volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Learn more about the internship program here. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for my first night camping alone. The closest thing to camping alone I’ve done is getting a single dorm room at college. That’s basically one step past sleeping in your own room at home. This was different. I had to prepare everything ahead of time to make sure that everything was going to go smoothly. I needed food, water, shelter. The necessities of life. Granted, my food was mac and cheese, my water was encased in a giant five gallon jug, and my shelter was a huge four person tent I was going to be able to stretch out in. Still, that’s rustic for me. I've spent most of my life around electronics, so when I have to clean dishes with lake water I’m out of my element.
It started with a calm boat ride out to Moon and Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest to check campers in and check the sites to make sure there was nobody squatting about. After spending an entire year going door-to-door canvassing to ban fracking in New York, walking up to people about to have a great getaway was a piece of cake. Everyone was easy to talk to and had a bunch of little interesting stories. Outdoors people. I think that even if it’s your first time camping there’s a subtle bond that’s felt. It’s the kind of human connection that should be present all the time, but gets drowned out in the hustle of day to day affairs. The outdoors takes hold of you and places you on the ground.
As I made my way to my campsite deciding if I should add chicken to my mac and cheese in order to make it a little more exciting, I thought about what it would be like to be one of the first pioneers to discover this place. No mac and cheese or chicken, that’s for sure. Well maybe a chicken. I don’t really know. Either way, it was humbling knowing that despite having a slight contempt for what we as humans can do to this world, we are in a unique position where we can enjoy our surroundings at a level that transcends every other creature on Earth. We can create peace of mind. That’s an absolutely incredible thing. It’s something that is sought by everyone and we all have the potential to reach it, but it’s our environment and our life at a moment that determines if this peace will come over you. Camping alone was strange, but I found that peace of mind. I slept like a baby.