We woke up early to our alarms, groggy yet ready to do work. We quickly grabbed a hearty breakfast of eggs and cereal, made our lunches, and hopped on the bus as soon as possible.

Today we were working with Earthship PR, and we were all eager to see what awaits us. For those of us who had gone on the trip last year, we were very excited to see how much had been done since we were last there.

What we saw blew us away.

Not only had the Earthship structure that we helped work on the year prior been completed, but the two completed structures had decorated interiors and amazingly designed water ducts which put all of the rainwater into a tank, called a cistern.

The folks from Earthship PR gave us a rundown of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how we’re going to help. After that, we got to work.

For those of us who hadn’t been on the trip before, seeing the Earthships was eye opening. Seeing pictures helped give us an idea of what to expect, but nothing could prepare our group’s newcomers for what the amazing compound of structures was like, and especially for how much work we would be doing on it.

While last year we helped by digging trenches and packing tires which went into the walls of the Earthships, this year we did so much more. Starting off, we organized the trash and bottles that are used as insulation for the shelters. When we were finished with that—which didn’t take very long because of how many backpackers we had—we quickly moved on to digging stairs, flattening paths and leveling ground for campsites, and breaking apart old, used wooden platforms.

We also donated any recyclables that we could, giving away trash that we generated throughout the day; the Earthship organizers had shown us how, what some may consider garbage, others consider “valuable building material.”

After a long day of hard work in the sun, we were all looking forward to relaxing, and more importantly preparing for the next day. We had a great dinner of burgers and hot dogs, and then we all gathered around for our first reflection circle of the trip. We went around and shared our expectations for the trip and bonded even more than we already had.

After that, we had a little bit more free time before it was lights out. We wanted to get to bed early, as we have a hard day of work ahead of us.