Pocahontas State Park 2014: Days 5 & 6

My apologies being so late. Final entries to be completed at some point this weekend! Enjoy the pictures below in the meantime…




(The lot of us with park staff at PSP… From left to right, top to bottom… Older man with mustache (unknown), Charlie, Matt, Dollian, Eden, Junghwan, Shantel, Daniel, Ed, Amanda, Maggie, Kat, David, Pete)



(Right before I pushed them all in… mwahahah)


(Play like no one’s watching, right?)


(Our team at Jamestown)



(Rev. Shantel in the pulpit)




Pocahontas State Park 2014: Day 4

I realized after rereading what I had posted last night, that I’ve been doing a pretty awful job of updating on the actual progress of our project(s). With that said, let’s jump right in…


Eden & Maggie (Bookshelf #1) AND Kat & Shantel (Bookshelf #2) – These two sets of friends have been working their fingers off (literally) in an attempt to restore the bookshelves inside the cabin to new. Among other wildly inexplicable fads of our parents’ generation (yes, I’m talking to you 1970’s) a group in the cabin 30-40 years ago had decided to paint over the natural wood with a salmon-peach paint (obviously to match the beaded chandeliers and shag carpet, jk… jk…). The before and after pictures are stunning and will be uploaded tomorrow. Not to mention that we all kind of think that the park staff had given the job of restoring the bookshelves away as an “impossible task”. The collective look on their faces when they saw a freshly mineral-spirited and sanded bookshelf evidenced their complete joy that the shelves had been brought back to life! 


Junghwan (Jason) and Dollian – These guys (neither of whom has ever used a power tool) have been tasked with the precise task of measuring, cutting and hanging pine paneling to cover up the original wooden boards that make up the cabin walls and ceiling. It’s been reinforced over and over again, “Measure twice. Cut once.” Now on day four, and a couple pieces of “oops” wood later, I think they finally get it!


Amanda – This girl has had laser-like focus when it comes to cleaning the fireplace. Again with the 1970’s paint, a group-of-old had decided to paint over all the natural brick in the ugliest salmon you could imagine. Amanda has spent the last 2 days with a bottle of acid within her reaches at all times. She has done everything in her power to clean off the fireplace and has received rave reviews from park staff. We think it was another “impossible task”… we showed them!!!


More to come tomorrow (our last day of service)!!!



(Gotta make our mark for when people rehab again 75 years from now)



(Dollian uses the saw a lot…)






(Getting the job done)



(Union break!)



Pocahontas State Park 2014: Day 3

“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”

– William Clement Stone

I’ve always appreciated Stone’s choice of words here. He could’ve very easily cautioned the reader in regards to, specifically, a dangerous environment and/or negative group of people. Though instead, in what reminds me of what I’ve read about ancient soothsayers in Caesar’s time, he seemed to be whispering an unadulterated message to anyone willing to listen. It’s a simple message and one that clearly begs the question: What, and whom, do we allow into our lives that will change us regardless of our intentions?

I’m here at PSP witnessing some pretty incredible things day-after-day from a group of talented, dynamic, and reflective students. Their willingness to give thanks, share, cross personal boundaries, and practice humility (quite possibly in ways that are unfamiliar and even uncomfortable for some) has been eye opening and refreshing. Part of me… most of me was worried that I would have to play Dr. Phil this week; asking difficult questions, fielding thoughtless answers, and making seemingly impossible connections, though that hasn’t been the case up to this point. Citing scenarios that have been completely unprompted by myself, we’ve had conversations regarding…

…being recognized for hard work

…the importance of humility

…family and origins

…assessing needs and wants

…decision-making processes and regrets

…personal motivations and intentions

…so many more thoughtful topics that I can’t even think of them all!

What I actually seem to have on my hands, besides a small acid burn, some white paint that didn’t come off in the shower, and countless splinters from hanging paneling earlier today is simply a group of kids that, regardless of if they had heard Stone’s whisper, have made two choices: first, to immerse themselves in an environment focused on service and humility and second, to surround themselves with like-minded individuals.

Change is happening down here at latitude, 37.373973, longitude, -77.571782… and it’s not just the change that’s taking place inside the cabin we’re rehabbing.

Every nail we drive and every board we hang comes with a price. It is in those very finite moments that we dare ourselves to change


(Dollian following the line)


(Junghwan showing us how to properly hold power tools)


(Katherine strunking… stretching and dunking… it’s a thing)


(Shantel being Shantel… and scraping like a boss)


(Our resident maniac…who gave Amanda the bottle of acid and grinding wheel?!?!)

Pocahontas State Park 2014: Day 2

Eight o’clock feels like bedtime…


No, this isn’t a riddle. This is the answer that anyone of the students volunteering here at PSP would give if asked how they’re feeling at this very moment (myself included).


I’m so happy with the group that ended up coming to Virginia: that they have all proven themselves to be hard workers, excellent ambassadors of The Colleges, and just thoughtful individuals in general.


So… recapping a bit from yesterday…


We did end up meeting Dan Q. (the head honcho around these parts). He talked us through the history of PSP, the vision of those working on this Spring’s restoration project, and a few odds and ends that were entertaining, if nothing else. For instance, did you know that in order to test the local tick population, park officials gather roughly 300 of the little guys into a blender and give it a light frappe in order to create tick-testing goop? Seriously… the most efficient way park staff has found to determine the “cleanliness” of the local tick population has been to turn them into tick-shakes, hundreds and even thousands at a time (P.S. The tick population here is, allegedly, squeaky clean). I also bet you didn’t know that the rabies virus, deadly in nearly 99.5% of untreated cases, requires a booster series of 8 shots directly to the abdomen to treat? Do you know how to tell a copperhead snake from a water moccasin? What happens if you see a bear? Should you try to pet a skunk if the opportunity presents itself? Can you tell that our time with Dan was really well spent? He took our interrogation like a pro, obviously, and having finished facilitating a conversation that was hilarious, informative, and inspirational, he left us to the rest of our night…


$536 shopping trip for groceries at Food Lion…


Figuring out the shortest distance, through the woods, off the path, point “A” to point “B”, without getting muddy, or cold, or dirty, to the showers…


Watching Jungwan DESTROY his HWS counterparts (3 games in a row) in Uno…  (A game they had taught him how to play only 5 minutes beforehand)


Roaring fire… crackling embers… orange glow… and silence.


End scene, 3/16/14.


Wake to a variation of country music, hip-hop, and laughing baby ringtones/alarms at 7AM on 3/17/14. Today was our first scheduled day of service down in the actual cabin! Enter David. David has been with PSP for a couple of years, though he isn’t new to the area. David served as a police office in the city of Chesterfield, VA for 32 years and had come to PSP as a part-time/volunteer worker who just loved the outdoors. He met us at Powhatan Dining Hall (where we’re staying) at 8AM sharp, and had us follow him to the work site roughly 2 miles down the road. I think that most of the group was pretty surprised to be introduced to the dilapidated cabin that we would spend our entire day in; surprised that there was so much work to be done, and surprised at how much history was evident in the original boarded walls, built in bookshelves, and names scraped into ceiling joists (“Bob, 1963” and “Joe & Terri, 1941”).


Our to-do list for today included:


1)    Stripping the bookshelves down to the original wood

2)    Laying insulation

3)    Painting the ceiling

4)    Cleaning out the attic (Amanda found a mummified squirrel foot… And played with it… Gross)

5)    Acid-washing the brick fireplace to uncover the original red brick face


It seems pretty evident that we’ll be working in the cabin until Wednesday at the very least (finishing up tasks listed above, hanging paneling, and refinishing the hardwood floors). More updates to come tomorrow!


P.S. I made baked ziti tonight. Yes, be jealous… 


Currently 10:04PM… past bedtime…



(The cabin we’re rehabbing) 




(Dollian and Shantel stripping the bookshelves)





(Amanda hard at work)



(Katherine and Jungwan hanging out in the attic with David)


Pocahontas State Park 2014: Day 1

So… after leaving Geneva at 11:30, we made it to Pocahontas State Park (PSP) last night at 9PM (after a nice 90 minute stop in Harrisburg, PA for Cracker Barrel of course)! Though it seemed like a great time to crash, we somehow ended up doing pizza at 11PM and getting to bed a little later than I think everyone thought we would.

The cabin we’re staying in is actually a beautiful 1930’s dining hall. The original hardwood is soulful and the overall facility reminds me of a mash-up of “Cabin in the Woods” and “insert summer camp you went to as a kid here” ____________.  

Today has been a day to get acclimated and relax. We started out with Pete’s soon-to-be famous chocolate chip pancakes (thanks Amanda for eating all the extras), and Dollian’s world-renowned, extra-crispy bacon. A nice late-morning hike to a nearby lake served as a great way to practice our navigation skills and here we are now: some of us sleeping, some of us enjoying a friendly (fierce) game of Monopoly, and some of us reflecting on the week to come.

We’ll meet with our park contact, Dan, in the next few hours to discuss more of PSP’s history, our to-do list for the week, and the opportunity we all have to leave something behind as we get our hands dirty this week.   I hope everyone keeps their eyes on the prize as we challenge ourselves this week. What we’re doing here in Chesterfield, VA is so much more than a community service project; it’s the practical application of servant leadership as a lifestyle model. While we can observe that Robert K. Greenleaf actually coined the term “servant leadership” in his 1970’s essay “The Servant as Leader”, the concept is one that has been around for two millennia, dating all the way back to Jesus’ time on this Earth.  

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?”     

  –     Robert K. Greenleaf  

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and covered His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He wore.”

  –      John 13: 3-6  

I look forward to the opportunities we share this upcoming week! Check out some of the pictures from our first day here. There will be many more to come!