When I decided to accept my internship with the Northern Forest Canoe trail, I thought that I was choosing to do something fun and exciting with my summer, which would only tangentially relate to the professional skills and competence that I hoped to develop in myself. What surprised and amazed me most about this summer was how quickly it required us to mature and develop the leadership, teamwork and organization abilities to ensure that complicated projects ran smoothly. The waterway work trips provided the opportunity to hone these skills in situations that required real leadership and foresight, all with the safety net and support of fellow interns, experienced volunteers and of course the rest of the NFCT staff.
I can hardly imagine a better environment to develop the confidence in one’s ability to work within a self-sufficient team, collectively responsible for every aspect of both the crew’s wellbeing and the project itself — food, water, tools, time management, transportation etc. The independence afforded to us did not come at the expense of our own enjoyment of the summer, but made our journey across the northeast in our little grey truck exhilarating.
The extent of our responsibilities required us to remain attentive to every aspect of our lives and immersed in the environs we visited and the projects we undertook. As with any prolonged outdoor excursion, the vigilance and focus required for the success of our roving crew was not exhausting but energizing. Nor did it preclude relaxation and levity, both of which were constants of the summer. We seamlessly found ways to work to our strengths and support each other, and quickly built a pool of shared knowledge and experience that enriched both our ability to work together and enjoy our leisure time.
Interning at the NFCT provides the capacity to bring the joys and excitement of adventure and self-sufficiency into a working environment, and provides interns with the ability to bring this attitude to any group undertaking, whether a backpacking trip or powerpoint presentation.