Friday, August 15, 2008

Serving in the Campground

Our family has two major campouts each year: Memorial Day and Labor Day. We camp close to home, always at the same places.

Memorial day, we camp at recreational property owned by our stake that sits on the Stillaguamish River. It’s a beautiful site and over the years has been developed to the point that two sets of missionaries have been called to staff it. They preside over the work parties that come from nearby wards and stakes to cut wood, beat back the blackberry bushes, and build all the amenities that make camping more enjoyable. (In western Washington, that generally means a roof of some kind, and the 30- by 50-foot cabana is the thing that draws us there during the perennially iffy May weather.)

The first missionaries we met there were old friends from a neighboring ward. They said they had been at loose ends after returning from their second mission and heard that people were needed at the recreational property, so they volunteered. Two years later, on our annual campout, we found that they had been replaced by two couples. One was from Texas. I can’t remember where the other was from, but I’m sure it was equally dry. They were handling the rain just fine, and were doing great things with the campground. Of course there were tractors and chain saws involved, and the elders seemed to enjoy that.

Our other family campout is up in the mountains at a National Forest Service campground. At the entrance to the campground, the first two or three campsites are occupied by camp hosts. These are volunteers who, in exchange for free ‘rent’ at the campground all summer, work for a few hours each day keeping the grounds tidy, collecting fees, selling wood and renting boats.

These volunteers do a great service to campers, because their volunteerism keeps fees lower and puts more ‘in charge’ bodies at the campground to meet the needs of visitors. We have always found them to be courteous and available.

Some of the federal agencies that have campgrounds contract with private companies to supply them with camp hosts. In these campgrounds, the hosts get their camp site for free, but they’re paid for the maintenance work they do. You can go to to find out about that.

Other state and national parks use volunteers, and here’s a site that lists open positions by state:

Or, if you think the recreational missionary sounds like a good thing, talk to your bishop. However, as you wait for your call, keep humming, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.”

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