I’m starting my 2nd full week as volunteer Camphost at Michigan’s Silver Lake State Park. Sandwiched between the weekends is a pretty much empty park. On Weds the larger south loop (across the road from me) had only 4 campers and the lakeside north loop had 11 campers get rigs including me. Being the “ambassador” during the week is tough duty😄🤣😂. Monday thru Thurs I walked the park 10 times (approx 25 miles total) and had 19 conversations.
I desperately needed to fix my cell service. I’ve had TMobile on both my iPhone and iPad since I started my boating adventure in March 2019. There is absolutely no TMobile coverage here. The nearest cell coverage I could find was about 10+ miles away at Hart, MI though I later did find on/off spotty coverage about 3 miles away. The State doesn’t even have WiFi at its Ranger or Registration buildings. No phone or computer connections got old real fast. Asking around, it seemed as though ATT and Verizon controlled the area. So at my first opportunity, with the campground emptied on Memorial Day afternoon, I drove 30 miles to Ludington and dumped TMobile in favor of Verizon for my devices. Yay! I have connectivity! The whole lack of connectivity reminded me of when Sharon & I started full timing in ‘97. We didn’t have a cell phone and there were large coverage gaps around the country. We paid for an 800 number so if someone wanted to reach us they called the 800 number and left a message. Once a day we’d call from a pay phone and retrieve our messages. Computer connectivity was accomplished by taking the laptop to the campground pay phone booth and connecting the laptop to the pay phone via an acoustic coupler, calling Compuserve and down/up loading the day’s emails. It was a treat when some campgrounds had a phone jack in their laundry room,
Thursday was a mandatory virtual “Host Training” session from 10 am to 3pm. About 200 volunteers in attendance via some Microsoft meeting app. Pretty much a waste of time. Mostly power point slides. I did learn you shouldn’t put hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your eyes. Nothing was said about H2SO4 so guessing that’s OK. While we’re not supposed to do anything ‘special’ like buy take away crafts for kiddies etc. in that the STATE wants every camper’s experience to be the same (diversity has been cancelled in favor of a participation trophy for all) but every Ranger runs different rules for hosts. We’re supposed to count and log our ‘contacts’ daily as that’s one measurement of performance. Yet not one of the DNR presenters (Rangers from various districts) agreed on what a ‘contact’ meant. Definitions ranged from a nod to a wave to a ‘hi’ to an in-depth conversation. Guess diversity is still a standard when it comes to practical, how to do your job, issues. I don’t count waves or ‘hi’. I count conversations, sometimes short and sometimes 20-30 minutes.
For the week I’ve walked the park 17.5 times for a total of 24 1/3 miles. Ive been offered breakfast, been offered a to go breakfast and tonight some campers brought a tray of brownies to my door. All of which I’ve said thanks but that the DNR does not allow gratuities of any sort. I’ve had, by my definition , 175 contacts, given out 8 take away craft bags to little kids that were being mannerly, loaned out a whole 6 preschool type books, built 4 bonfires. I don’t remember ever having built a bonfire during my years of full timing. Have had the big red flashing light behind me turn on twice and the alarm siren once last weekend and this weekend, indicating the pumps were not keeping up with the grey water. I get to turn of the siren (very loud) and the situation is remedied by staff shutting down 1/2 the showers “closed for maintenance”.
And then yesterday evening there’s a knock on my door. A couple with their two teenage boys. The man apologizes for disturbing me but explains he was in the men’s bathroom and was feeling sick. That he made a big mess on the floor and that it smelled really bad. I said I’d tell the staff. Then they busted out laughing. It was a nephew and his family. It’s been some years since I’ve seen them (the boys never except on Christmas cards, Thanx Dana) and then only briefly driven by their house by my brother Ron and wife Gert. My main memory of him was when he was still an ankle biter. They enjoyed the prank and apparently my brother was in on it. They are camping in another campground for the weekend across the street.
Last weekend was Memorial Day and this week Thurs, Fri and Saturday was the “Jeep Invasion” where they expect 1000 Jeep’s. There’s a parade, appearance contests, trail rides, dune riding etc. The large town park is a staging ground with 2 tire semi’s set up at the stage and numerous display tents for Jeep customization stuff. The campground is 100% booked and felt like a morgue after 10am as nearly every one was out with their Jeep. Except for me and my Jeep. The DNR wants the host on duty during Fridays and Saturdays.
All is now quiet. At least 2/3rds or more of the campers have left and one new camper has arrived. Another round of exits tomorrow will pretty much empty the place till next Thurs afternoon when the next bunch will arrive. I walked the park this afternoon and filled a grocery bag with paper, bottle caps, 2 Reese’s PeanutButter Cups, butts, a couple of paper plates, a cup, a plastic fork and sundry other things. I thought the place was remarkably clean for the size and diversity of the crowd.