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 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, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.
August 22, 2016
As I crank a sentence out between each passing boat at the Route 113 launch, I reflect fondly (and briefly) on a blue-sky summer drawing ever closer to its imminent ending. For those planning on catching the bass and the rays until Labor Day and beyond, I suggest letting this journal entry stay unread until you are ready to throw the boat on the trailer and head back home. For those who are taking note of the nights growing colder and longer, buying this year’s textbooks, maybe even starting to wax the skis, I hope that this entry will take you back to some of your warmest days of summer.
To myself and the eight interns that I’m proud to call my friends, this lake has nurtured our bodies and souls the way that only the most special places may.
Coming from a variety of backgrounds, all seeking different things from a summer internship, Squam Lake brought in a bunch of rag-tag college-ish folk and, under the guise of trail work, diving, caretaking, and lake hosting, bound them together for a few months. What started as the pure knee jerk reaction to socialize and fraternize with your fellow workers has led us to this place, where we feel a little piece of ourselves lost to the wind as the first of us say our farewells and make the journey back to dorm rooms and dining halls.
Summers in New Hampshire are a very special thing. After a (usually) long winter, when the lake opens its arms up to us for yet another season, most of us come running. As Squam Conservation Interns, we yield from the uninhibited mindset some (though few, on this lake) take towards their recreation. We work the necessary, sometimes grueling, job that I have heard referred to a few times as “the Lord’s work”. We get our kayaking in, but as a dive tender to protect our Aquatic Invasive weed divers from passing boats. We get our time out on the pontoon and speed boats, but it is to deliver wood to a campsite or to check in campers. We get to read out in the sunshine, but it is only a few pages a time between spreading the word to boaters about Milfoil, lead-free tackle, and our treasured loons.
While I would say our job is necessary and, yes, sometimes taxing, we really are no heroes. Anyone on Squam can be an environmental steward; it comes down to cutting the pleasure with a little bit of work. Whether it's measuring the depth of a thermocline while boating with your family, making a conscious effort to stay on the trails, even just rinsing and draining your kayaks after using them, it is imperative that every patron of this watershed does their part.
In a few short days, all the interns will have left. The milfoil boat will significantly reduce its workload to a trip or two a week, the trail work will carry on with a smaller crew, and the Lake Hosting will be just a summer memory. What won’t stop, however, is the use of the lake, and the campsites, and the trails throughout Ashland, Holderness, Center Harbor and Sandwich. I used to think it was our responsibility as interns to preserve the beauty of the watershed. As the internship comes to a close, I realize now that the burden doesn’t fall on us alone, but is a weight that we as the blessed few that know of this area must all carry. Together, we can keep Squam Lake the hidden gem just south of the White Mountains that it has been since before any of us were around.
Kyle is from Concord, NH, and studies chemistry at Bates College in Maine.