NICA: Meet the 15-year-old Girl Scout who breaks trail
Hannah Puttcamp spends countless hours trailbuilding with crews to improve local mountain biking.
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If on a summer Saturday you were to ride your mountain bike at Lackawanna State Park, you would almost certainly ride a trail that Hannah Puttcamp built. That’s because the 15-year-old has spent countless hours working with crews to improve the local trails near her hometown of Waverly Township, Pennsylvania. Her work has won her a Teen Trails Captain Award from NICA and helped her to complete her Girl Scout Silver Award.
For her thirteenth birthday, Puttcamp received her first mountain bike, and she’s been hooked on the sport ever since. She currently races with Pennsylvania’s Keystone Composite Team.
“I have learned everything I know about biking from my NICA team,” she says. “Things like how to go over roots, best racing strategies, and how to change a tube.”
Puttcamp also participates in NICA’s Girls Riding Together (GRiT) camps, and she says it’s been the highlight of her summers. As one of the few girls mountain biking in her area, Puttcamp is especially excited to ride with other girls through GRiT.
“I have learned that there are other girls across NICA that love mountain biking,” she says, and Puttcamp values the support and connections she’s found through GRiT.
At home, her trail-building projects have combined Puttcamp’s love of mountain biking with a commitment to community service. Puttcamp first got involved in building trails through the NICA Teen Trail Corps program, which aims to turn student-athletes into advocates for mountain biking. NICA offers a series of five badges that students can earn. Puttcamp has them all.
Two years ago, for her Girl Scout silver award, Puttcamp led a project to build a connector trail at Lackawanna. Before, riders had to use the park’s road to access many of the trails. Puttcamp, then 13, organized a crew that included a mix of her teammates and adult volunteers. One challenge was leading a group of adults for the first time, says Puttcamp: “I was used to adults leading me.”
With her first trail segment successfully built, Puttcamp is already looking forward to her next project. She wants to do “something big” for Lackawanna and is working with the park leadership to come up with a plan.
“Without trail builders, we would not be able to ride bikes in the woods,” says Puttcamp. “When riding on a trail I worked on it is so cool to say, ‘I made this!’”
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