From June 16th to June 22nd, former Project Live Your Life cast member Jason traveled to New York City on behalf of American Eagle Outfitters to participate in the “We Donate, You Decide” service project with The SCA. Read his personal reflection of his experience below.
When you think of New York City, camping out in a field and cleaning up beaches is typically not the first thing that you think of, but my experience doing just that has become one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. American Eagle Outfitters and The Student Conservation Association partnered together to send 17 individuals to Floyd Bennett National Airfield for a week of service and fun volunteering at New York Harbor Parks which was stricken by Hurricane Sandy.
No one really knew what to expect as we were driving through the city only to come out to an old World War II airfield which we would call home for the next week. For many of us it was a shock: no electricity, no showers, no HBO to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones, but over the course of the week those were soon forgotten with all the hard work and fun we were having.
Jason with other service members on the beaches of New York.
At the first site we went to we were all shocked by the amount of damage still left from Sandy, which almost happened a year ago. There is still so much work left out there to do and I was honored to have the opportunity to help clean it up.
Arriving at the airport, I instantly knew I was in for a great week when I met the other campers. Volunteers came from as close as Brooklyn to as far away as Hawaii. Though we came from across the country, we all found out we had so much in common and were all service-minded individuals looking to make a difference.
We did numerous projects including trail work, fixing an old building, and building a boardwalk for a garden. After we finished, we held a boardwalk fashion show showing off our AE and SCA swag. The trip wasn’t all hard work: we had tons of fun as a group as well, whether we were sitting around the camp fire roasting s’mores, singing songs, or taking a day to run around the city.
Jason walks the newly completed boardwalk.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much we all grew. For some of us, this was our first “real” camping experience and for others, this was another opportunity to hone our skills by sharing our knowledge with the rest of the group. Either way, we all took something from this experience and left with a sense of satisfaction that we were helping change the world.
Jason during the an SCA “round up”.
Click here to learn more about AEO and the SCA joining efforts to help restore Gateway National Park.