Last week, I enjoyed a pleasant walk around the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in the company of a rather large crew of new recruits from the Orange County Conservation Corps. Normally, my classes have eight to 10 young adults in them. This crew numbered 23, a record large class of new hires. Vic joined us for lunch.
I joked to Javier Cabrera, my supervisor, that if I had known the class was going to be that large, I would have called in sick. In the past, I've found that classes of new corps members as large as 17 or 18 people are unmanageable. I have to tell you, I had my concerns about how the day would go.
Keep in mind that corps members are generally male high school dropouts aged 18 to 24 and that many have gang affiliations or have been in trouble with the law. Some have behavioral issues that kept them from succeeding in regular high school. It can take them a while to settle in at the corps. I get them the first week that they're with us, so they're about as wild as they get. I actually enjoy their enthusiasm and free spirits, but I prefer my challenges in small doses.