Trailblazers program breaks ground, literally
Erik Douds ‘14 began Trailblazers, a sub-set of EnviroCo that works to build new trails at the Alfond Youth Center. The program is also working towards a collaboration between the College and Camp Tracy, which is located in Oakland.
As part of an overarching initiative to unite the Waterville community and students on the Hill, Erik Douds ’14 began Trailblazers, a subset of EnviroCo, which works to build new trails at the Alfond Youth Center. The trails would be open both to local children and Colby students, making the project a very valuable resource for the College and the town.
Douds came up with the idea for Trailblazers from his experience working with Camp Tracy during JanPlan. A branch of the Alfond Youth Center, Camp Tracy is located on a 32-acre campground on McGrath Pond in Oakland, and it boasts many impressive facilities, including a climbing wall, ropes course, tennis courts and waterfront area. Douds was surprised that students at the College were not taking advantage of these facilities. “The campsite is for underprivileged kids in fifth grade through high school, but it’s out of use for most of the year when students are on campus.”
Trailblazers is the first step in an attempt to make Camp Tracy an accessible resource for all students at the College during its off-season months. “This project has so many parts, and Trailblazers is just one section of it,” Douds said. During his JanPlan internship, Douds learned about a proposed trail project that was never completed, and he realized that the task of completing it might interest his peers.
Many groups are involved with making the Trailblazers’ aspiration a reality, namely the Alfond Youth Center and the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA). The BRCA, which is interested in erosion control and other conservation measures for the trail, have contributed significant time and manpower to the initiative.
To combat the negative impacts of erosion and other natural processes on the trails, the group updated all of the original trail designs, adding switchbacks and other erosion deterrents.
The proposed trail’s main focus is education, as it will include tree identification plaques, kiosks, pamphlets and inspirational quotations spread throughout the path. Detailing his goals for the group, Douds explained, “I saw Trailblazers…as an opportunity to bring an environmental program and education to the children.”
Douds’ project has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Waterville community, and the Trailblazers group is excited about the collaboration between the town and the College. Their overarching objective is to improve town-gown relations, and eventually expand the usage of Camp Tracy to students on the Hill.
“Camp Tracy can be used in the future once this partnership is strengthened,” Douds said. “It can become a really cool resource for the Outing Club and for everyone. That’s the long-term goal.”