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Old 08-29-2014, 11:35 AM   #1
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Your summer RV volunteer experience?

Now that summer is drawing to a close, how about the volunteers out there sharing their experiences this year? Where did you summer and how was the experience?

We have three days remaining of an excellent experience with Angostura State Recreation Area, near Hot Springs, SD. We believe that the park manager here is one of the best and the fact that he does all of the volunteer recruiting demonstrates just how much importance he puts on his volunteers!

We have been campground hosts for Sheps Canyon Campground which is across the lake from the main park and we have loved it. This host position is a little different than most in this park since we do not have the readily available maintenance and such but it has fit the two of us better than probably any other position in the park. On this side we have 1 summer college intern, 1 part-time park employee who lives nearby, and the two of us who are campground hosts. We just work as a team and pretty much run things our way, within the park rules of course. It has been great summer and with a great team!

We probably won't be back as we rarely go the same place twice, but I do recommend this as a great way to spend a summer in the Black Hills of SD!
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Old 08-29-2014, 02:45 PM   #2
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DW and I just finished a month at Swan Lake NWR in Northwest MO. Great experience for our first time volunteering. If you want a slower pace and great managers this it. Steve and John were great to work with. We had the opportunity to help with some bird surveys as well has plenty of time to do some photography. We only had to work Saturdays and Sundays in the visitor center. I also did some mowing. They try to have two work campers, but we were the only ones when we were there. The RV pads can take any size unit. Laundry, showers, and a freezer are available.

I know they are looking for people for 2015. We're hpoing to go back for a couple of months next year. Oh, they really need someone from now until sometime in October. It could be a nice stop if you are going to be transitiioning for the winter.
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Old 08-29-2014, 09:14 PM   #3
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We decided to try the northeast this summer. Wallkill River NWR in the "Skylands" of New Jersey was looking for a couple with some kayak experience to lead river trips and develop a recreational kayak program for a recently acquired property with a 50 acre lake.
When we arrived in May they had just begun to install a ADA dock with kayak launch ramp. Even with some bad weather efforts by staff and volunteers it was completed for their annual disabled Veterans fishing outing, sponsored by a local rod & gun club, and Fathers Day family fishing event.
With the official opening we were now ready to start our program. We had decided on senior kayaking on Thursday mornings on the lake and family kayaking on the lake Saturdays alternating Saturdays with river trips.
Postings on Refuge FB and Friends FB pages, free ads in the local paper, posters on all the refuges kiosks, post office bulletin boards and anywhere else we were allowed brought out a good response.
We found we had more would be kayak paddlers than we had boats so we expanded our Thursday senior paddling to morning and afternoon sessions and in August gave up on river trips as we could service twice as many families on the lake. We will continue till the last weekend in September.
This is a beautiful area not what most people think of when they think of New Jersey. Abundant wildlife, bears, bobcats, bunnies, gobblers, deer, coyotes, plenty of birds.
Also a good location from to explore the Hudson Valley and other points of interest.
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Old 08-30-2014, 08:45 AM   #4
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We spent the summer as interpretive hosts at San Juan Island National Historical Park in Washington state. The first summer I can remember that we never used our AC. The weather was great, mostly sunshine with a couple days of rain and several with fog. It is what we consider a slower paced position. We were at American camp and logged maybe 200-300 visitors a day and gave interpretive programs about 'The Pig War', manned a cash register, and greeted visitors. It was 32hrs/wk each but we worked together and had 3 days in a row off (most of the time). Living with our MH on an island was interesting. We would do it again in a heartbeat but there are so many other places to see and time is growing short. The head of interpretation has been here 20 years and is a real character, unfortunately he is retiring this year and I think the job will not be the same without him. I would recommend this position for anyone into interpretation and a gorgeous place to park.
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:03 AM   #5
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We have been At Beech Fork Lake in West Virginia, volunteering as fee booth attendants for a swimming beach. The Corps of Engineers has the best camp site we have ever had as volunteers and better than a lot of commercial sites It has 50 amp, water, sewer and a concrete pad. A free washer and dryer are on site. There are 6 sites for volunteers.
The job was easy. We put out saftety equipment on the beach, opened the rest rooms and ran the fee booth for 5 hours, 4 days on, 3 days off. We had a great group and supervisors.
There was a blue grass music hall that had concerts every Friday. Huntington WV, the closet big town had everything you could need. the area is lush, green and has a lot of growth.
The only drawback was the weather. It was hot and humid, but we knew it would be. It was a good summer and we are looking forward to a winter job at a commercial park in Harlimgen, TX
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Old 08-30-2014, 05:07 PM   #6
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Jim and Darlene, We volunteered last summer at Beach Fork. We also worked the fee station and have to admit the vol campsite area was was of the nicer ones we've stayed at.
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Old 08-30-2014, 06:08 PM   #7
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Some of the same people that have been coming here for years are here again. Zach transferred to the nearby COE site to be close to home. We will not be back because there are just too many other places we want to see. But, it was a nice summer.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:40 PM   #8
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Good topic, Kirk!!

We spent our summer (June 6 - Aug 26) volunteering at the Lee Metcalf NWR, in Stevensville MT. It's about 25 miles south of Missoula, in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. Solid western ranch country, stunning scenery, and a really nice little town. The local drug store still has a soda fountain (and great ice cream)!

We had a great summer! We were the only volunteer work camping couple, although there were several local volunteers who would come in for one morning a week. Our nominal work requirement was 24 hrs, but nobody was obsessive about numbers. It all worked out because we enjoyed what we were doing. Diane worked her time, but pretty much on her own schedule, and I averaged about four days a week because I was just having fun!

The refuge provides a concrete pad (they have two) with full W/S/50A, free laundry, nice grassy area with a picnic table and a big cottonwood for shade, and great views of the Bitterroots on one side and the Sapphires on the other. The entire staff was very friendly, and glad to have us there!

Since we agreed to work Sundays in the Visitor Center, our presence allowed them to open the center on Sundays, which turned out to be quite popular. Diane researched and wrote some articles for their website, edited some others, helped get things a bit more organized, and learned a lot about waterfowl and raptors. In addition to Sunday in the Visitor Center, I worked with the three other maintenance people (two staff and one part-time local volunteer) on a variety of construction and carpentry projects. Besides carpentry, I brushed up on my welding and fabrication skills, and I got to play with some really big Tonka Toys!

The Refuge manager and staff were very pleased, and we enjoyed the time, the work, and the place immensely. It couldn't get much better!
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:15 AM   #9
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As summer closes out we are still campground hosting at a COE park on Lake Cumberland. This is our third year here. Our site is the typical, well designed and maintained site found in most COE parks and within the campground itself.



Everyone that enters the campground has to drive past our site, so we get to sit under the awning and wave at people, and answer questions for campers. That is part of our job!!


We also ride around on our golf cart and look for rule infractions. There are not many rules, and other than an occasional noisy site after quiet time, the biggest problem we have is people parking on the grass! We also monitor the boat ramp for payment of launch fees. It is a happy place.



This year the rangers hosted a volunteer appreciation cookout and did all the cooking. Did I mention that the food was outstanding?


We also present water safety and anti-drowning talks every Saturday night. This year with the help of the rangers, we also had a scavenger hunt, and just last night, a sidewalk coloring contest that was water safety orientated. A “ghost walk” is planned at Halloween. These programs are just so much fun to present.


A major advantage here that we enjoy here is the ability to “get things done.” If we see a project that needs completion, and it does not interfere with any Corps. plans, we get to do it, with the full support of the Corps.



One year my wife mentioned that some of the site markers and benches could use painting. The very next day the ranger brought us all the needed painting supplies. So we get to pick what “extra” we want do, if we want to do something extra. That makes a major difference over having an “assigned” project.


Everyone has their own concept of the “perfect” volunteer job. For us, this one “fits” us perfectly.
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:34 AM   #10
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We're at Tanglewood Park at Clemmons, NC. This is our second season and we absolutely love it here! Work for site with two other host couples. 3 days on 6 days off. 44 sites, 18 hole golf, pool and water park, tennis horseback riding and more! This is a county park so they do the hard stuff, we're the fluff!
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Old 09-05-2014, 02:23 PM   #11
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We spent our summer (May-Aug) at Gulpha Gorge Campground at Hot Springs National Park, Ark, as hosts. The hosts duties are very easy here, no money handling, no restroom cleaning (just checking for needed touching up and toilet paper). The host works split shifts (7 am - 11 am) and 4 pm - 8 pm). We worked 3 days on and 3 days off when we had a second host. We worked June and July by ourselves and really did enjoy it. Here you work for the Chief Ranger and work with maintenance and interpretation. Due to budget cuts they had no programs in the park amphitheater this year. The most consuming part of the job is making sure those camping use the machine in the registration office to pay, etc. Two site counts a day and report totals to the office up town. The hosts sites are paved and have a nice yard with 2 picnic tables and grill. 30/50 amp service and water and sewer. I would come back again, but not for a couple of years, want to explore other places. Heading for Garner State Park in Concan, Tx next Wednesday (would like to hear from anyone who has worked there)..

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Old 09-06-2014, 12:50 PM   #12
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We spent our first month of the summer as lighthouse hosts in Cape Disappointment State Park, WA. Loved the park & the position. Such a beautiful area.

We spent the second month as interpretive hosts on the top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island, WA (San Juan Islands). Another great hosting position. The volunteer coordinator bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we needed and enjoyed the job. Ferry costs were paid for & nice full hookup campsite. A real "family" atmosphere.

We are currently lighthouse hosting at Cape Blanco State Park, OR. This is our 3rd year back here and we LOVE it. Amazing park, beautiful lighthouse. Great volunteer coordinator.

Our temps have been 70's or so ALL summer.

If anyone is interested in reading our blog posts on our hosting jobs, I wrote about them here:

North Head Lighthouse: On the “Job” At North Head Lighthouse – Cape Disappointment, WA | Wheeling It

Orcas Island: Volunteer Hosting at Mount Constitution, Orcas Island, WA – What Do We DO Here? | Wheeling It

Cape Blanco Lighthouse: Back At “Work” – Lighthouse Hosting At Cape Blanco Lighthouse, OR | Wheeling It

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Old 09-06-2014, 12:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firedoc View Post
We spent the summer as interpretive hosts at San Juan Island National Historical Park in Washington state. The first summer I can remember that we never used our AC. The weather was great, mostly sunshine with a couple days of rain and several with fog. It is what we consider a slower paced position. We were at American camp and logged maybe 200-300 visitors a day and gave interpretive programs about 'The Pig War', manned a cash register, and greeted visitors. It was 32hrs/wk each but we worked together and had 3 days in a row off (most of the time). Living with our MH on an island was interesting. We would do it again in a heartbeat but there are so many other places to see and time is growing short. The head of interpretation has been here 20 years and is a real character, unfortunately he is retiring this year and I think the job will not be the same without him. I would recommend this position for anyone into interpretation and a gorgeous place to park.
We were just across the way from you at Orcas Island this summer!! We did a day-trip to San Juan, but sadly missed seeing the American Camp. Sounds like a great summer position.
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