Monday was my first full day of work in a little over eleven months. Filling out paper work, learning the ins and outs of my job with the Montana Conservation Corps, meeting other new staffers, took up most of my time. Tuesday the newbys (five of us) took a driving course called the "Smith System" before we were allowed to drive the 'rigs's, which happen to be suburbans. Embarassingly, I missed four questions on my Smith System written driving test (as did most of the others). But passed with flying colors the driving portion of the test. Of course the day we took the 'rigs' out to test drive, snow was covering the road surface. But we all did fairly well, and that was that.
Wednesday the new staffers (crew leaders) and our immediate boss, Shannon (Senior Crew Leader) took off for a three day cabin retreat in the Beartooth Mountains in south central Montana. While 'retreating', we stayed in a cabin with no running water and a wood burning stove for heat. The dash to the outhouse was a cold one, but we quickly became accustomed to the 200 foot walk. The cabin was set beside a creek, in small valley between some tall mountain peaks. During our stay, we learned how to read a topo map and use a compass, we learned four different knots to use in the backwoods, how to track a variety of animals, and how to use a white gas burning stove.
The retreat was a great way to get to know each other and spend time learning many skills that we will soon be expected to teach others in our respective crews.