In a soggy section of the river trail at the Ocmulgee National Monument, a handful of teenagers on a recent morning worked to drain mud and restore a passable trail.
The crew of high school age volunteers is working on trail projects at the monument through the Student Conservation Association, which is described on its website as America's conservation corps. The students on the Ocmulgee crew come from all over the country and are guided by a pair of college graduates. The work is strictly volunteer and lasts for three weeks.
Students have to apply to get one of the coveted trail crew spots, and not everyone who applies gets a job. Benjamin Cavat-Negbaur, a student from France, bucks the trend having been on a crew three times. His previous assignments took him to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Why keep coming back? "I live in the city, so I'm really used to the cars and all the noise," he said. "This is a nice escape from all that. It's a nice change from everyday life."
With the epic amount of rainfall Middle Georgia has received, a lot of the three-week session has been spent tackling trail drainage issues. "They come out here, and the agency is never exactly sure how much they can accomplish," said Corrie Williamson, one of the crew leaders. "Our first project, you know, they thought we might spend all week on it, and we finished it in like four or five days."