East Coast volunteers working in Clallam

A troop of eager, hard-working teens has been constructing trails, clearing brush and cleaning up Clallam County during their summer vacation.

The teens are working with Landmark Volunteers, an East Coast-based organization that takes students from all around the country to do volunteer work with about 60 different nonprofits.

Students with Landmark have become annual visitors to the area. This year, they worked on the Olympic Discovery Trail in a few different locations, trails at the Olympic National Park Visitors Center and headquarters and at the top of Hurricane Ridge, among other volunteer activities.

“Much of our work has been trailblazing, creating new sections of the discovery trail or widening park trails to become (Americans with Disabilities Act) acceptable,” volunteer team leader Laura Schetter said. “Most of these kids have never been here before so this is not only a great volunteer opportunity, but a good life experience as well because this area is so amazing and different than the other side of the country.”

The program is for mature and ambitious teens that are involved in school and other activities. The core stance of Landmark Volunteers is that if given an opportunity, young adults can become an integral, meaningful and helpful part of society.

“It is so amazing to watch them grow over the two weeks we are here,” Schetter said. “This program changes lives.”

Landmark Volunteer staff can give out letters of recommendation, which help in the college application process, and they receive acknowledgement of 80 hours of community service, which has become a requirement in many East Coast schools.

“Not only do they walk away with requirements met and a good mark for their resumes, they get experience in how to build a trail through the woods, the importance of giving back and how much they are valued as individuals and as part of a team,” Schetter said. “There is no check mark or price tag for life lessons like that.”

The team will finish up its stint in Clallam County just before the end of July.

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