See one, do one, teach one

The Buckeye Trail Crew had an out of state worker this week. He is from a Pennsylvania chapter of the North Country Trail. Nice guy, even if he is a little eager to please. His experience building trails is woefully inadequate, and yet he is a chapter president. I have to give him points for just making the effort to find out what real trail building is like. The first day he was there he was telling everyone his “war” stories about the trail building he’d done. Credit goes to the crew, not a single person gave him a hard time. But they were all grinning on the inside–knowing what kind of work the next two days held. By the first afternoon he was exhausted, and said so. In a deadpan I informed him that he must not understand the definition of “volunteer”. (A veteran trail builder told me the same thing the first week I built trail.) After that he stopped trying to keep up with everyone else and worked at his own pace. Sure, he took more breaks than anyone else. Yep, he bounced up and down the trail to relate to any and all that would listen his “war” story about the massive tangle of “greenbriar” roots he’d dug up. I don’t think he has any scratches on him, but I figured if I pointed out my “war” wounds, it would take away his fun. After all he showed up of his own free will to dig roots out of the ground. And by working at his own pace, he actually got more work done.

By the afternoon yesterday, his last day working this week, he was really winding down. He said something that made me think that he was regretting not being able to learn more before he left. That is when the television show ER popped into my head. A few times on the show, medical students are told by the attending doctors that the best way to learn a medical procedure is to “see one, do one, teach one”. Kind of a scary thought from the patient point of view.

I decided to help our Pennsylvania friend out and started showing him some of the trail building tricks I’ve learned. There were two small trees in the trail where we were working. I asked him if he’d ever dug a tree out of the ground. He sheepishly said, “no”. I said, “see one, do one, teach one”, and proceeded to dig out one of the trees, describing what, and more importantly why, I was doing the digging a certain way. I even showed him how I could use the tree’s own trunk as a lever to snap off some of the smaller roots. After I finished I said, “now you have seen one. Do one.” and I pointed at the next tree. I turned my back and started benching the trail where my tree had been. It took him a while, but he got that tree out of the ground all on his own. When he was done, I told him, “now go back to Pennsylvania and teach one.” He grinned real big. He dug out three more trees before quitting time. I think that Pennsylvania chapter of the North Country Trail is in better hands than they were just a few days ago.

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2 Responses

  1. Trail building sounds like a lot of hard work, but very rewarding. I like the lesson about the “definition of a volunteer.” Very useful, that.

    I hope to get a chance to check out your trail work this summer or fall!

  2. I would love to show you some of the trail I have helped build. Ever seen the view of the Scioto River Valley from the top of Hang Glide Hill? It is Awesome!

    Glad to see you back online! Continue to get better, OK?!

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