The BikeTexas Trail Doctors spent the week of March 13-17 at Camp Eagle (www.campeagle.org), a Christian youth camp located in the beautiful Hill Country region near Rocksprings, Texas. BikeTexas Trail Docs Ryan Spates and Susan Stormer were invited by Camp Director Anthony Scott to spend Spring Break week training and working alongside a large group of students doing mission work. The students had traveled from Truman State University in Missouri.
The BikeTexas Trail Doctors had worked at Camp Eagle previously, teaching a trail school and training the camp staff in sustainable multi-use trail building techniques over the course of the summer. When Anthony learned that a group of about 170 dedicated students would be arriving to do whatever work was requested of them, he quickly consulted with Susan and Ryan to see if they would be available to train and supervise the inexperienced workers.
The week was very strenuous, but also quite enjoyable and amazingly productive. About 80 students were divided into four to five smaller work groups and focused on trail building and construction. The other 90 or so students worked on various other projects around the camp including painting, cleaning, tree trimming, brush removal and kitchen duty. Monday morning, the trail crews attended a 30-minute informational and safety training session by Ryan and Susan on the basics of sound trail construction techniques, and then they hit the hills with tools in hand.
The week fell into a rhythm, with an early breakfast followed by a few hours of work on the trails. We’d all hike back in for lunch, take a short break and then hike back out to the sites for another few hours of work in the afternoon. After cleaning up for dinner, we’d all share meals in the group dining hall, then participate in discussion groups or socialize until going to bed in the evenings.
Most of the students were reasonably fit, but few had done manual labor of the sort that trail building requires, so there were quite a few sore muscles at the end of each day. They all displayed wonderful attitudes, however, and spoke about how much they enjoyed creating something through physical labor, in contrast to the way they spend most of their time, hunched over a book.
Few of the volunteers were mountain bikers, but several hiked, and they all spoke about having a greater appreciation for the trails in their hometown after seeing how much work goes into building a trail. Several even said they wanted to try out mountain biking since the trails looked like they would be so much fun to use. Needless to say, the BikeTexas Trail Doctors were happy to hear this positive feedback and the prospect of more cyclists in the world.
At the end of the week, approximately three miles of new trail had been created, an outstanding achievement given the rugged terrain in most of the camp property. There were already about 2.5 miles of trail on the property, and several miles of jeep roads that were created on the ranch before it was turned into the youth camp. Camp Eagle will be the site for the first race in the Fall Series for the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association (www.tmbra.org) which will occur over Labor Day weekend in early September.
Camp Eagle has made tremendous progress on their trails in a short amount of time, but they do need help from the cycling community to get the network finished in time for the race. They are always looking for volunteers, and they offer free camping and land use in exchange for volunteer trail building labor.
The BikeTexas Trail Doctors feel fortunate to be involved with such an outstanding group of folks, and the property is just a beautiful place to experience. Once the trail system is completed, it will be one of the best in Texas; it is already a joy to ride, even in its unfinished state. Please feel free to contact either Anthony at Camp Eagle via the website listed above, or BikeTexas for more information.