Trailblazers launches and clears Old Brandon Trail


THE TRAILBLAZERS LAUNCHED with a summer camp that met Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. from July 12-22 to clear the Old Brandon Trails.

BRANDON –– Jozef Sloma’s Trailblazers, an outdoor club that helps kids learn about nature and preserve hiking trails in the area, launched with a summer camp that cleared paths on the Old Brandon Trail this summer from July 12-22. Led by Brandon Recreation Department Assistant Colleen Wright, with a $500 grant by Nifty Thrifty, the two-week camp garnered five kids the first week and totaled 12 participants by the second.

Jozef Sloma was a native Vermonter who had talked with Brandon Rec about creating Trailblazers, but passed away before his plans came to fruition. “It is an honor to take his ideas and goals and go forward with them,” said Wright. “This group did their best to live up to his high standards of conservancy.”

Camp leaders Cristina Kumka and Dylan Blackmer took kids ages nine to 16 outside Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to cut wild honeysuckle and choke cherry, while being cautious to avoid poison parsnip, poison oak and poison ivy. Carrying loppers, saws, clippers and other tools, they hiked to their chosen daily work site and uncovered foundations, removed invasive species, studied the history of the area, made camp chairs, built primitive benches and learned about mushrooms.

“The kids were amazing. They worked hard. This was not an easy sit-around camp; this was very active, with brush to cut and haul, debris to pull and lots of hilly hiking,” said Wright.

BILL POWERS, LOCAL historian and author, joined the Trailblazers one day to educate the kids age nine to 16 about the trails.

During their adventures on the red, blue and white trails off Old Brandon Road, among many other things they found an opossum, shotgun shells and a snake. The Trailblazers, who were all from Brandon except one camper on vacation from N.M., went fishing in the Otter Creek River, climbed the June Overlook, and learned from local historian and author Bill Powers who hiked with them one day.

The outdoor group will meet for events throughout the year, including performing community service projects and getting together to have fun outside. Sixth graders and above who are interested in joining the group, can contact Wright at

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