Summer Sunshine and Muck

The Youth Working at the CLA Share Their Thoughts on the Summer

Lakewood, NY — Every summer, the Chautauqua Lake Association employs a number of seasonal laborers of varied age to clean the shoreline and surface of the Lake. 

At the close of the season, crews were asked to complete a short survey of their experience. When asked why they chose to work at the CLA this summer, the running theme was true— spending the summer outside, on the lake.

“The best part of the job had to be working outside and on the lake,” said Alex, a sophomore at Denison University with aspirations of attending medical school. “Not many jobs around the area allow you to enjoy Chautauqua Lake.”

As stewards of Chautauqua Lake since 1954, the Chautauqua Lake Association’s number one priority is keeping the lake safe, fun, and clean for all to enjoy. Maintaining the lake is a full-time job and the work is never finished. Whether it’s removing debris from a lakefront resident’s shoreline, dredging a tributary that has become overrun or excavating nuisance vegetation, the crews have their hands — and sometimes their boots, full at any point in the season. 

“One thing the public should know is that removing weeds is a process and takes time,” Alex said. “They will not be gone instantly and usually require multiple trips of scooping to see results. Patience is key.”

Simon, a junior at Rochester Institute of Technology agrees with his co-worker. “I want people to know that we’re trying to make the lake a better and cleaner place,” he said. “There’s only so much of us and there’s a lot of lake to clean so please be patient.”

From mid-May through Labor Day, the CLA runs several crews on harvesters and the shoreline. All summer long, those crews follow a pre-determined route that is updated weekly on the CLA website. 

WHAT DID THEY LEARN IN THEIR TIME WITH THE CLA

“I learned a lot about the algae in the lake and the surrounding area,” Nick, a senior at Bemus Point High School said. 

While the lake view and summer sunshine are the best parts of the job, all crew members who were surveyed agreed on the least desirable part of their job on the lake. 

Erin, a junior at Bemus Point High School shares Nick’s sentiment. “The best part of the job is learning about Chautauqua Lake and the aquatic species in it,” she said. 

“The worst part of the job is when we have to clean muddy seaweed, dead fish, or rotting seaweed,” Simon said. 

“I can’t say it’s much fun scooping stinky muck out of the lake,” Alex confirmed.

Despite the offensive smell, the summer crew members — now experts in weed removal and disposal agree, that working on the lake is a great summer job. 

“You can’t beat working on the lake,” Alex said.