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Volunteers descend on Camp Sealth for a month of outdoor work

Volunteers Erin O’Reilly and Ashley Merchant and Camp Sealth employee Eric Miller work on a dock at the camp. - Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo
Volunteers Erin O’Reilly and Ashley Merchant and Camp Sealth employee Eric Miller work on a dock at the camp.
— image credit: Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

A team of eight young adults from around the country has made a temporary home at Vashon’s Camp Sealth.

They’re not campers, but volunteers with the AmeriCorps National Community Civilian Corps who will spend two months beautifying and performing much-needed maintenance at the 360-acre camp.

One sunny day last week, the 18- to 24-year-olds were found waist-deep in the water, deconstructing and cleaning the camp’s floating docks. Several of the volunteers said they were grateful the sun had come out for the wet work and that they enjoyed watching seals and river otters swim by throughout the day.

During their month-long stay at the Camp Fire USA compound on Vashon’s west side, the young people will also rebuild its horse corral, clear debris from the recent storm and do maintenance on hiking trails.

Vashon is just one stop on the group’s 10-month trip, a journey that includes an eclectic mix of service projects around the western United States. In March they will head to Sacramento, Calif., to work in a public school. The AmeriCorp members receive a living allowance and education credits for their service. Another team will spend time working at the camp this spring.

Rick Taylor, director of Camp Sealth, said that at least one AmeriCorps team helps out at the camp each winter.

“We couldn’t get ready for summer programs every year if it wasn’t for our partnership with NCCC,” he said.

Michelle Laurita, who leads the team that is there now, said that the group was enjoying its time on Vashon.

“It has been wet and smelly and dirty, but it has also been beautiful and awesome and fun,” she said.

 

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