Coming Together for a Good Cause

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By Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel

Throughout early Spring, a dynamic team of Airmen collaborated with a Scouts of America youth camp in part of an ongoing community support initiative that was established in the mid-1990’s. During their time in the hills of the green mountains, Airmen of the Vermont Air National Guard focused their efforts and skills to update key facilities to give camp goers a better experience during their next visit. 

Volunteering for efforts external to the base in support of a worthy cause is an effective means to share this attribute with friends and neighbors throughout Vermont’s community. The Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) initiative is the perfect vehicle to combine motivated Airmen with an organization of similar values, such as Scouts of America’s Mount Norris Scouting Reservation, located in Eden, Vermont, to join forces and tackle a task or two! 

“Doing something for our community is really exciting. We’re hoping to have future projects; we’ve really created a friendship and a bond with the individuals that are the directors here. It’s really a fulfilling thing to give back to our community,” remarked the 158th Civil Engineering Squadron’s (CES) 1st Sgt., Bethany Johnson. 

During the end of April and into May, Airmen of the 158th CES provided project planning, schematics, skills, tools, equipment and manpower while other local contributors provided the supplies to make it all happen. This particular IRT focused on the build of a large covered deck and roof replacement for the camp’s main cabin, reroofed another building on site, built and set a brand new road sign for the reservation and resurveyed the entire property to offer updated maps. Not to mention additional interior HVAC, plumbing and electrical work. The purpose for a larger and improved deck was to give the camp the ability to effectively host outdoor events during the summer months. 

“In return, we get some hands-on training and are able to cross-train into other specialties,” noted Master Sgt. Dayton Brown, 158th CES Project NCOIC and Engineering Assistant. “I don’t feel like I’m working right now because it’s just fun for me!” 

In order to carry the entire plan to fruition, the 158th CES Airmen needed to work from sun-up to sundown every day of the IRT. Understanding the scope of this project, and out of necessity, the 158th Services Flight provided home cooked meals to feed their hardworking colleagues. 

“Many of the individuals here had gone to this boy scout camp,” Johnson remarked as a return to Mount Norris was a little more personal for some Airmen. 

This was a unique opportunity that incited a special kind of perspective along with a profound understanding regarding the value of volunteering. Here, the hard work devoted helps to give youth the resources to develop a foundation of morals and character and become productive citizens of tomorrow.