Category Archives: Youth Corps

Dirt Movers, Earth Changers


My heart goes out to all the 9 to 5’ers in the world, cubicles all to themselves. The feeling hits me seeing the Sisters silhouettes in the near distance on the morning commute, or when finally fitting a boulder into place. I am so grateful that rather than pencil pushers, we are rock carriers, dirt movers, earth changers who of course only matter in their context- a crew, a program, an ecosystem.

We are a technophilic society collecting material possessions and Facebook likes. I am collecting gravel in an effort to create a balanced place to stand.  And once that is done, we return to camp to learn and eat and sleep- but who knows, come tomorrow, what roughness needs smoothing; what path needs following to fix a thing or two before the storms of winter come.


Crew Leader, Fall 2014

Go Blue – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Crew!


This is session #2 for me this summer. Every day it was hard work but I did a good job and it was a great experience. On the trail every day, I worked with my blue crew and we supported each other as a team working together. I learned new skills and gained job experience when we worked on different projects. This was an awesome job and I liked visiting new places and meeting new people at the weekend sites. I made many new friends on my crew.

There are three deaf people on our crew this time and six hearing people and the deaf people can do as good of a job on the projects as the hearing people can do. The deaf people have legs, hands, eyes- everything they need to do a good job just like the hearing people. We proved that the deaf CAN WORK and do anything the hearing people can do. At the end of the session we all realized that we did it and we were very proud. That is why deaf people should work for NYC; we had a really good experience and learned to work very hard as a team. The deaf can do this job and I can do any job. Go Blue Crew!


Blue Crew, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Crew

2014 Youth Corps

DHH Crew

10 Pieces of Advice

South 2 Kayla

10 pieces of advice for a Crew Member starting their first session:

  1. Abundant amount of moleskin (easy remedy for blisters)
  2. Drink tons of water, even when you don’t want to. It will benefit you in the long run.
  3. A journal and a package of pens (they run out quickly)
  4. Long johns (certain parts of Oregon can be very cold at night)
  5. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) there are going to be a lot of days where you feel fed up, tired, weak; you have to push yourself and stay positive. Just take 30 seconds to breathe.
  6. Pace yourself – don’t push yourself to hard though, you will get overwhelmed and exhausted easily at WORK. Even if you’re behind everyone, who cares? It’s better than breaking down and crashing.
  7. Good communication between yourself and fellow Crewmembers and CL (Crew Leader) is very important when it comes to getting tasks done at work or any kind of activity.
  8. Put others before yourself – as you’re hiking that 1 mile to the worksite and back every day, you’ll be thinking about how bad your feet hurt, how tired + frustrated you are – just remember that you’re not the only one feeling that way. Fellow Crew members feel your pain. Go out of your way to respect others too.
  9. Don’t whine or complain too much this refers to #8 too – it’s important to keep a positive mental attitude and PUSH yourself through your own toughest CHALLENGES. This doesn’t apply to surviving NYC, but in life too.
  10. Step out of your comfort zone and band w/ your fellow CM/CL – you’ll be living with them for 6 weeks. Make the best out of it and most importantly, have fun at appropriate times. =)

Written By: Kayla

South 2

Notes from the Field – 2014

Week 3

Yellow Crew

This week the Golden Boys went deep into Nature. They hiked about four miles to Trinity Summit, where they set up camp and took advantage of a small Forest Service cabin. They worked on clearing house and hiking trails where massive logs had fallen across the trail with a cross cut saw. The Trinity Alps were breathtakingly beautiful, with her high peaks scraping clouds and her grass meadows offering healing peace. The Golden Boys also saw what is known as the Center of the Universe for the Karuk People: where the Salmon and Klamath River come together.

Picture for blog

I Am Beyond Grateful


20 years ago today, I was dropped off at Fort Warden state park in Port Townsend to start working with Northwest Youth Corps. 8 weeks of work in the woods I was told, a paycheck I was told, new experiences I was told.

All of that came to fruition, but also such incredible change and self-discovery. What an amazing journey that season and the following four would offer. Now seven years have passed since I decided to come and give back to such an amazing organization.

I look back at all of my experiences here as well as this past week, I can help but smile.

I love this life. I am beyond grateful.

Jeff Olsen

Northwest Youth Corps

Program Manager

The Golden Moments That Shaped Who I Am Today

Blog4-29-14I was a member of the Yellow crew back in either ‘94 or ‘95. Found my old hard hat in a box in the attic recently, just reminiscing.  It has stickers signifying my skills I had mastered, and messages written in sharpie from all of my team members I spent 5 weeks with one summer. Sigh, good memories. We all bonded like sisters and brothers, from all states, and all walks of life. We had written letters and kept in touch that following school year, and then sadly drifted apart as we embraced our high school reality.

Just remembering those long, strenuous days of packing in our tools, lunches, GORP, and gallon jugs of yellow (treated) water. We did trail making, and slash piling, I learned how to use a pick ax and what good, honest, physical labor was all about. I had a sense of pride at the end of the day as I looked back at my work, and how our team help keep the forest safe from fires. The smell of the trees and earth was all around us, and the clear air filled our lungs are we huffed it to and from the work site.  We all wore the same dirty blue jeans, shirts, boots, hard hats, packs, and huge smiles as we walked back to camp each day. The girls and guys set up their separate tent and sleeping bags, made the fire, then dinner, and the best part was eating the dinner we cooked ourselves as a team!

I gained so much in that summer, I learned how to break social boundaries, gained friendships, no longer a self centered teenager, I learned how to be part of a team! I became more respectful of my crew leaders, and appreciative of their knowledge and guidance. I looked forward to weekend mail call, I received a card from my then high school sweetheart, and now husband each Saturday. I realized how much I missed and loved my family, they sent a letter or gift every weekend. I shared the sugar and cool-aid packets with my crew, thanx Mom. Each weekend our crew would go out and explore Oregon’s beautiful playground, one time we even went rafting with all of the crew’s, that was a blast! We would meet in town and go to the laundry mat, go to the market and load up on candy, oh ya. Looking back on those summer days and nights, remembering how tired, yet energized we were setting up camp, building a fire, or learning how to cook out of a Dutch oven, are cherished memories. Those are golden moments that shaped who I am today. The love I have for our mighty Ponderosa Pine tress, the respect and awareness of nature. The can-do attitude toward hard work, the patience and integrity of a team player, and the deep desire to connect with people and community.

Those 5 weeks of summer seemed to last forever, and yet, wasn’t long enough. On the big white bus ride home there was a feeling of bittersweet, as we all wanted to continue on, we missed home. There was loud chatter of the highlights of adventures together, friendships founded, and laughter almost the entire drive back. But then there was silence as we drove into town, thoughts of self reflection, sadness, anticipation, and ultimately a feeling that I was ready to embrace the world with a positive attitude, and ambition that I discovered within myself while at Northwest Youth Corps.


Kristina (Davis) Mae Clarke

Eugene, OR

LDP 2005



Like a benediction, we grow into a smaller language. So many words given up, disremembered, abandoned from tents & saw packs. What use here in the Middle Santiam Wilderness do we have for the word sink? When would we ever utter closetor phone or bank account? These words as unneeded as any third thumb, as unneeded as money or wallet or credit card. Girlfriend becomes little more than a weekend ghost. I give to you TV. I give to you movie theatre. I give to you radio. Do you want more words that these backwoods winds strip away? Take traffic jam.Take fuel pump. Take the 9-to-5. God, take commuting pavement. Take asphaltconcrete. Take, please, we beg of you, microwave. Take power lines. Take nightly news. We give them all away.

Those words, they ache our new memories.

February 21, 2014 By 

 lives on a lake in northern Vermont and serves as a professor at Norwich University. He is the co-editor of The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre, an anthology that delves into the questions surrounding creative nonfiction. To read more of Sean’s poetry, creative essays, and poems, please visit his website.

Yellow Crew- “Exceptional Young Adults”

Frank and Yellow Fall Crew

My brother and I had the pleasure to meet your “Yellow Crew” after they had been re-deployed from Coos Bay to Waldo Lake. They had been blown off the coast by the remnants of Typhoon Pabuk. Everything they had was wet…

We met your crew leaders and their crew while we were camped out at the “Horse Camp” when they pulled in late in the afternoon on Monday September 30, 2013. My first impression of your team leader was a very positive one. She introduced herself and we chatted for a minute or two. Then she asked if it would be OK if they set up their camp close by. That impressed me. So many times people will just set up camp right next to another camp without asking. We helped them pick one of the drier spots to set up their tents. It was a joy to be camped out fairly close to their camp.

My brother has a generator and some spotlights on stands. We set up one of them to give them adequate lighting to be able to set up their campsite. We also invited them to join us around the campfire as we had dry firewood and it had been raining pretty hard for three days. They accepted our invitation to warm up around our campfire. What a joy it was to get to know them! We offered help to them many times but they mostly politely stated that they were OK. They did ask if we knew where they could find drinking water and we were able to give them direction of where there was potable water.

My brothers son had joined Northwest Youth Corps many years ago, so my brother had an idea of what to expect. He had nothing but good things to say about the experiences that his son had had. I had never heard of your organization before but from what I observed, NYC seems to be a great organization. My brother and I are both retired military and were impressed with the leadership that your team leaders and your youth exhibited. Very impressive! You run a tight ship. 

All of the youth that I had the opportunity to get to know a little bit are exceptional young adults. It was very refreshing to see their work ethic and their positive attitudes. Thank you for the work that you and your organization does. You and your organization DO make a difference.


Frank E. Hupp

The Hardships Are Worth It!

graham harris blog pic

What can I say about Northwest Youth Corps? A lot! It has changed me in so many ways and I have witnessed that change in many others for the better as well. We have learned how to be hard workers and how to better understand each others differences by appreciating where we each come from in life.

Many great skills can be taken away from my experiences in Northwest Youth Corps and many of those skills can be applied to everyday life. I really notice the changes in my life Northwest Youth Corps has made when I get back home and I am sure others here do as well. This program is a hard thing to finish and not everyone can do it, but for the people who do finish it, the hardships are always worth it! There is a lot more than hard work and learning new skills though. Here at NYC we learn about others through laughter and teamwork; sharing stories of our past and stories of what we feel and want our futures to be like.

The feeling of being covered in sweat and dirt at the end of a hard day digging trail is like no other. Everyone on the crew can relate to this feeling and come together through this common experience. It creates one of the best communities you can build. Red crew has treated me well and I thank them for that, this might be my last session at Northwest Youth Corps as a youth for I will soon age out. With what I have been taught and learned here, I soon hope to become a leader myself. I hope to lead youth and teach them what I know of life through my experience at Northwest Youth Corps.


Red Crew


For My Son

Kyle BlogThere are many different reasons why one should be participating in a program like Northwest Youth Corps but my one major reason would most definitely be my 6 ½ month year old son, James Taylor. My son is my life and I would do anything for him. I feel that the one thing that he needs right now is a father that can become a man who works hard and gets along with other people. I’ve worked three different jobs from the ages of 16 to 18 and this 5-week session is my favorite because of what I am learning about myself. This is not just a job, it so much more.

It is your decision to be a hard worker; it is up to you to be motivated to have a strong work ethic and it is within your power not to be lazy. My own personal work ethic has always been and will always be, ‘if you are going to do something, do it well and you’d better do it right’. Otherwise what would be the point of doing it at all? I’ve been a hard worker all of my life, but I have struggled sometimes with my relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. Something that I especially need to work on is my relationships with my co-workers.

I feel like I can get along with anybody as long as they are respectful and not lazy. It’s hard for me to like someone who does not put in any effort, it’s the way I was raised. Here at NYC, I am learning how to treat people differently. In your lifetime you will come across people that you do not get along with. That will never change but what you can change is yourself. I am here for my son and to change my attitude towards other people so I can set a good example for him. I’m here to improve my work ethic and make my son proud of me.


Yellow Crew