Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What is a Construction Captain?

Construction Captains are volunteers who work alongside the Leathers & Associates Consultant, overseeing and instructing crews and helping to maintain quality. They make it possible for the Leathers’ consultants to keep hundreds of volunteers working efficiently. Strongly committed captains take care of the details that make working on the project fun, safe, and productive. Without them, volunteers become frustrated because they have to wait for instructions, resulting in lost workers.

Most Important: Captains must be present for all days of construction from 7 a.m. until close.

What Do Captains Do?

Some captains will have tasks that involve complex and precise carpentry. Others will oversee work that requires no carpentry skills at all. All, however, will spend time supervising and instructing others...sometimes 2 people, sometimes 20 or more. Some captains will work on only 1 or 2 things the entire build.  Others may see 10 different tasks through to completion.

Here are some other things you should know about captains:

Captains must enjoy working with people, be strongly committed to the project, and be willing and physically able to “go the distance” during construction. They should also be organized, flexible, and able to keep their wits and humor about them under difficult circumstances. Leadership skills are a plus!

Of all the qualities good captains may possess, people skills are by far the most important. Most other things can be easily learned on site.

At least three captains should be skilled in carpentry.

All captains must attend Organization Day, which is July 21st, so that our office representative can brief them about what’s ahead.

Captains are always welcome to attend committee meetings. At the very least, they must attend the job meeting the night before construction begins — that’s when the construction consultant will describe the various tasks, which are then assigned at 7:15 each morning.

Assignments for Captains

We encourage you to read through the following list of jobs and begin thinking about which ones you might enjoy doing. However, please remain flexible until the construction consultants arrive and have a chance to discuss various assignments with you. We need to be able to assign people to the most pressing tasks — and to match all the captains with jobs that best suit their abilities. We understand the sacrifice you’re making by committing six days (or more) to this project, and we’ll do everything we can to make it a great experience for you and every member of your community.

Safety:   The Safety Captains primary responsibility will be to patrol the site looking for safety hazards — improper tool use, overexertion, clutter that could cause accidents, etc. This person should have some familiarity with power tools, a diplomatic nature, and a strong feeling of personal responsibility for maintaining a safe site. All committee members and captains will discuss specifics at the job meeting the night before the build begins.

Site: The site captain’s job begins shortly before Organization Day. We strongly encourage you to recruit a Parks & Recreation employee for this job. This person is responsible for preparing and staging the site for construction. On Organization Day, our office representative will draw a map that shows where to stockpile materials, pitch tents, and put the power supply. The site captain’s job is to see that everything is in its proper place. Improper site setup can cause the loss of countless volunteer hours — dumping the gravel in the middle of the playground site and putting the power supply 400 feet from the prefab area are mistakes to avoid. When everything is in place, the site setup captain continues to monitor the site and keep things organized. The site captain will also work with a surveyor to stake out the playground. This will happen twice. The first time is for the Organization Day, when only a few reference points must be located. The second time is a week or so before construction, when all the post-holes must be located and staked out. Furthermore, the site captain will then supervise drilling of the post holes right before our consultants return for build week.

Electrical: The electrical captain’s job requires constant vigilance. While this person need not be an electrician, he or she needs some knowledge of the electrical load capacities for cords of various sizes and of the amount of “juice” required by various tools.

Equipment: There will be a variety of manufactured equipment (slides, swings, cable nets, etc.) that will be incorporated into the project. Working with our Construction Consultants, this person will take charge of the installation of these components.

Prefab: During construction, you’ll set up a mini-factory under a tent next to the site and build many components and pieces of equipment there. Taking charge of this part of the project requires an ability to maintain high standards of quality and keep track of many items.

Post setting: The captain for this activity — someone positive and upbeat — makes sure the right posts go in the right holes and that people don’t overexert themselves.

Fence or perimeter: This captain oversees the construction of the fence or perimeter according to the site plan — usually in a straight line around the perimeter of the playground. We generally look for someone who can read blueprints and who is comfortable with simple carpentry.

Ground Cover: This captain sees that ground cover is spread to appropriate depths and in an orderly way. He or she should be comfortable working with large numbers of people — and upbeat enough to inspire the “troops.” Children aged 10 and older and unskilled adults accomplish this task, using wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, and strong backs.

Framing and decking: This captain — who should be skilled in carpentry — first works with the construction consultant to learn our techniques for building decks and then instructs the crews and oversees their progress.

Special features and details: This captain will work with our construction consultants and the Design and Special Features Committee on the special features of the project. Together this group will organize, produce and install the details for the playground.

Cleanup: One captain may be assigned to keep the site free of debris, separate lumber scraps from usable lumber, and stack the usable lumber pieces in an accessible place. The site needs continuous pickup to ensure safe working conditions.

Post-Construction: One or more people should plan on working several hours on the day after construction to continue cleanup, tools repair and return, punch list items, and any other last-minute chores. It may be a good idea to have a few “fresh faces” planned, as committee members and other captains are pretty worn out by Monday morning.

So that is the breakdown of a very special kind of volunteer.  Are you up for the task? Contact Ed (ed.bartakovits@gmail.com), Joanne (joanne@gatheringplacemj.com), or Joshua (psu1rules@yahoo.com) if you have any questions.

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