Summit Trails Project: It’s All About the Volunteers!

View of the Passaic River from the trail, June 2015

View of the Passaic River from the trail, June 2015

When my good friend Jonathan Sacks mentioned that he was looking for a service project for the Men’s Club of the Summit JCC, I jumped at the opportunity to enlist this talented group in our trails project. So it came to pass that at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 19, Jonathan led a group of sixteen able bodied men on major trail construction and renovation work at the Passaic River trails in Summit.   Armed with

Volunteers from the Summit JCC Men's Club

Volunteers from the Summit JCC Men’s Club

assorted rakes, shovels and wheel barrows, this determined group tackled most of the “heavy lifting” of our project. Over the course of the morning and into the early afternoon they labored, digging out invasive bushes, hauling and installing hundred pound stepping stones, erecting a kiosk and installing a bench. By 1 p.m. work was winding down and most of the group had left. As I finished cleaning up and thanking the last of the volunteers, an incredible thing happened.   A minivan pulled up to the gravel parking area and out stepped Brian Deutsch, one of the Summit JCC volunteers, together with his son Jacob aged 7 and daughter Ava who is 9. In the next ten minutes, Matt Cohen, another of the  volunteers, arrived with his family to join the Deutsch’s.  It turned out that Brian, who lived minutes from the trails but had never used them before, had rounded up his kids and their friends for an impromptu hike. Of course, he also showed off the impressive improvements he had just helped to create.

Families explore the trail on June 14, 2015 at the Party at the Dump

Families explore the trail on June 14, 2015 at the Party at the Dump

As Brian explained, “I actually did not know that you could access those trails from Summit. Now that we have discovered these beautiful and serene trails so close to our home, we absolutely plan on using them. They are easy to get to. You can go out and do a twenty minute hike because they are so close, and bring the dog and the family. The trails are manageable for younger kids. It wasn’t too difficult or too steep. The kids loved running ahead of us and we had fun trying to teach them to skip rocks.” Sunday, April 19th was a resounding success for our project.  Meaningful work was done by a new set of residents who have become champions of Summit’s wonderful trails,  dedicated to improving them and excited to use and share them too!

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