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.
Living on Squam in the early tides of the summer has been much like re-reading an old, familiar book; all the nooks and crannies of the lake and the surrounding towns are well ingrained within my memory. And yet, I find myself pleasantly surprised by subtle details that I had not discerned upon my initial perspective as an oblivious young child. Of course, this is a product of my perspective, then as a vacationer and pseudo-tourist, and now as a caretaker. For me, the past month has been all about that word: perspective. Even in its most literal definition, my view of the lake has changed from my cottage in Moultonborough Bay to the lily-speckled inlet of Piper Cove. But the most dynamic change, and by far the most evident in my eyes at least, is the feeling of responsibility that I have adopted since my employment at the Squam Lakes Association. The lake means that much more to me now that I am investing my own time and energy into protecting it, and old “Golden Pond” awards all my hard work just as it always has. Just this morning, after running around to check in campers the previous day, I was woken up by the clamorous bickering of red squirrels. When I got up to shoo them off, I was confronted by what looked like a screensaver photo on my computer. The sun was rising over Red Hill, and all the rain clouds that had settled in over the hemlocks during the night were beginning to lift away. The effect was a hypnotic blend of refracted light and looming pines, with the shadows of mountains outlining the horizon to the North. And then there was me, standing open-mouthed on a large hunk of granite, with severe bed-head and partial blindness thanks to the luster of the morning sun.
I wish I could have shared that view with my fellow interns, as this is the first week we have spent apart. With the advent of our new schedule, we have spent less and less time together as a united front and more time by ourselves as independent stewards of the lake. My first night camping alone was absolutely perfect, aside from some light rainfall. All the campers that I had the pleasure of checking in were wonderfully grateful for the work we are doing, especially the upkeep of the composting toilets. And after all my nightly duties were finished, I got to partake in perhaps my favorite part of working on Squam; the opportunity to fish.
By some miracle, I have been placed within this amazing group of people, from the ones I live with in our little apartment, to the ones that supervise us. This lake is now my office, my playground, my home, and my escape. That’s the best perspective I could ask for.