Intern Journal-Dougie

The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission.  This unpaid volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities.  Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Learn more about the internship program here. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.

It’s hard to believe in a short amount of time all of us interns are going to be out of here! In an even shorter amount of time I’m going to be getting in the water for my last dives.  I’ll be having my last meals with my intern family. Cleaning out my room and packing up. Momentarily, we’ll all be going to spend a glorious sunny afternoon at Beede Falls for our “intern holiday”.  Our intern dinner on the dock-boat “Calypso” went off flawlessly, and even ended in a double rainbow.
I really wonder what I’m going to look back on and remember the most about this summer.  That’s what times like these have got me thinking.  Having walked the trails and traveled the waterways so much, the lake is now ingrained in my memory.  All I’ve got to do is imagine a specific location and the memories should surely start bubbling up, soon overflowing and teeming with vivid detail!  Sort of like the dreams Rebecca warned us of, and I soon experienced, where milfoil and lake critters invade your sleep and start swirling around mystically.  Squam Lake is one of the most preserved areas I’ve ever visited, and it’s like the whole watershed is alive in High-Definition.  All of what I’ve seen and witnessed during my few months here is a gift. 
First dives on sunny calm mornings where the lake surface is eternally still and glassy are serene moments.  Getting bit on the toe by a curious pickerel while I’m in the water fixing docks is startling!  Kicking my diving flippers aggressively off the bottom of the lake sending dust clouds sky-high makes me feel like a shark jolting around, stalking shallow sandy waters.  It is equally as fun to hold both flippers together and swimming in an ‘S’ wave motion, as a seal or dolphin would.  Freezing in place so all the curious fish can come closer to investigate. Freezing feelings are quickly thawed out post-dive, after some time with our cooler, “the hotter”(see pic.). The sunbeams that penetrate the waves on the surface and travel simultaneously along the lake’s bottom, or bounce up and onto the trees on the mainland, are hypnotizing. 
I will miss jumping in the lake after a hot sweaty outhouse cleaning session, and drying off minutes later.  I won’t be sharing moments of agreement as the cicada’s buzz in tune with the stifling heatwaves pouring down from the sun overhead.  My sunburns should start subsiding, at least that’s not so bad.  Sunlight is one of my favorite aspects of nature, and makes me feel the most alive! I’ve been contemplating a tattoo integrating this.  One moment I will always call back on is the time I looked out onto the lake from Route 3, and finally understood why this place is called Golden Pond.  The sunset’s effect on the water was something I have never seen throughout my travels in New England.  It was otherworldly! 
I had high hopes back in May and will leave here totally fulfilled, I think all seven of my other interns are on the same page.  We entered as landlubbers and soon enough got our lake legs underneath us.  The sailors were very fun to hang out with and got me out into pirate mode a few times.  JSLA campers brought the goodies, and were excellent camp buddies to share s’mores and campfires with!  Our supervising staff rocks for having us out here, and everyone on the lake does too for helping keep the vibes light and summery.

Read more Intern Journal entries here.