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A Day in the Life of a Crew Leader

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Winter 2002 - Summary

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The Trail Companion (ISSN 1528-0241 (print); 1094-222X (online)) is the quarterly newsletter of the Trail Center.

Editors:Mary Simpson, Megan Hansen
Layout: Scott Heeschen
Staff Writer: Geoffrey Skinner
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The Trail Companion

Winter 2002

A Day in the Life of a Crew Leader

...continued

So What Does a Crew Leader Actually Do?

Leading a volunteer trail crew is a tough job. You are in charge of a group of strangers who don't know you or each other, and who may have no experience with the tools or work.


Crew Leaders at Arastradero Preserve (click for larger image)
Crew Leaders at Arastradero Preserve (click for larger image)
Photo by Geoffrey Skinner
You may not have seen the work site before, and even if you have, it was probably several weeks ago. You've got a weedy patch of hillside with a few survey flags stuck in the ground and a few pieces of plastic ribbon tied to the bushes. The workday supervisor may be nowhere in sight. And you're supposed to get some trail built. You have to figure out what needs to be done, and what resources you have to do the job. And you get to do all of this with an audience watching you, waiting for you to tell them what to do. The job can be very intimidating the first few times you try to do it.
      Crew leaders need to know safety and construction skills, but the leadership skills are the key to meeting the basic goal of a crew leader: your job as a crew leader is to make sure that the people on your crew work safely, that they enjoy themselves, and that they build good-quality trail. There is no one right way to accomplish these goals. There is also no typical workday, even over the life of a single project; every project presents a different mix of challenges, and every group of volunteers has a different mix of abilities and interests. Each crew leader has a different approach to these challenges...but all workdays do, however, present the same general challenge to a crew leader to integrate a variety of skills and manage a variety of details in order to keep the crew happy, safe and productive.
      All workdays tends to have the same general structure, which in grand terms, are:

  1. Start of the day
  2. Arrival at worksite
  3. The work period
  4. End of the day
Certain things need to happen during each of these phases for the workday to go properly. For example, at the start of the day, volunteers need to be greeted and registered, tools need to be set out and assigned to volunteers, and volunteers need to be sorted into crews.

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