Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Campground Host Post

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:

We have been traveling for several years and notice so many parks using more and more volunteers. I don't think the state and national park system could function without them anymore. I am having a problem with information breakdown as the corps of volunteers grow. I tell my husband they are dropping their standards with their dropping budgets. Young and old alike are in positions that require a knowledge of the areas we visit, rules and regulations and safety issues. Many do not seem to grasp the skills to fulfill their responsibilities. My husband thinks I am being too critical. We had to walk six extra miles on a recent backpacking trip because a volunteer in the backcountry office failed to mention a road closing. My feet were talking to me so I think I have the right to let my mouth speak to him. I volunteered not to make a scene. I didn't want to embarrass my husband, but I feel silence could get the next backpackers in trouble. Please give me some advice on how to adjust my voice control button.
--Blisters at Bowman Lake

Dear Blisters:
Think of the less informed volunteers as the "Farm Team." You always need to be developing new talent and that is what the park system is doing. Many new National Park Rangers start as volunteers. Everyone starts out "green" as a volunteer at some point. In your life I am sure you have been the "newbie/greenhorn/wet-behind-the-ears/new-kid-on-the-block/first-timer." It's not always pretty but eventually you become a pro. There are exceptions. The Detroit Lions come to mind. In most cases, volunteers in training are fast learners, efficient, responsible and motivated. Let's face it, they are not in it for the money. I applaud all volunteers and appreciate the fact that without them the budget strapped park system would be a shambles. So whenever you get upset with a volunteer, think like a musket loader. I mean, don't go off half-cocked, keep your powder dry, stand straight as a ramrod, don't be a flash in the pan, and remember the volunteer can't learn everything, lock, stock and barrel, the first day.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Merikay said...

Many of them volunteer to save the cost of space rent and hook ups. But they do learn and usually care about what they are doing.

RovinRon said...

Good advice. I would add this - when you getgot back from a hike like that, go back in to the staff and say "it may have been some time since any of you have been out on that trail. Did you know that ....(filling in what you encountered). Thought you would like to know that so that you can update your information about the status of the trail and pass it on to others." Seems like everyone wins then.

Anonymous said...

If it was not for the volunteers parks would be closing because of money. The Ore. state volunteers are well trained and must work a min. of 20 hrs a week ea. Most of us work more than that because we love what we do. said...

We spent this past summer as Volunteer Camp Hosts at Ridgway State Park in Colorado. This park like many receives thousands of hours of volunteer help - without which the park could not survive. This was our first camp host experience. Without question there was a ton to learn. We were fortunate to have great paid staff and State Ranger support.

During this experience, as well as, our 20 plus years of RV camping experience we have met hundreds of great volunteers who are dedicated and committed to providing a positive camping experience for park guest. They are all about providing great customer service.

Like in any organization (public or private)there are times when mistakes are made. There are also times when someone volunteers for the wrong reasons - but those in my opinion are the exceptions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rick. We volunteered until we were forced to quit for health reasons. 18 years total. We worked for Forest Service, Natl. Parks and State parks. None of it was for a place to park for free. We loved what we were doing and saw a need. Worked more than 20 hours weekly, not because we had to but because we saw things that needed to be done.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have volunteered for 3 years now and yes we don't get adequate training because there are far more questions that can be asked then we can be trained on. The best training in world can't cover every question that we've heard. Also note that volunteering is far from easy, we have defended campers from bear attacks and elk attacks. We have been awaking in the middle of the night because people can't start their campfires and we've had to deal with campers on LSD so please appreciate the volunteers. I was told by one camper that I needed to get another career because he couldn't find a campsite. What part of the word volunteer don't people understand.

Mark and Lauree said...

We have been to several National Parks over the last 3 months. We have noticed there many times are more than one Host site. Even some of the smaller ones have 2.
Anyway, thats just what I noticed.

Mark from blogging about our motorhome travels of the last 3 months.2 more to go,

Anonymous said...

Several comments but only one answered the question "How do I adjust my voice control button?" What kind of advice is "keep your powder dry, or stand ram rod straight"? Volunteers (and staff) need to know of dangerous conditions, but Rovinron is right ... it can be done in a friendly and informative manner without sounding accusatory, every one wins.

Anonymous said...

Without the volunteers, you're feet may not have a place to hike in! Be grateful some people take their valuable time to volunteer for others to enjoy our park systems.