Thursday, May 21, 2015

The search is on

I have begun the hunt for next winter's Volunteers in Parks gig. The first application done using the website has been submitted; a couple more should get done within the next few days. I think it's safe to assume that some locations are much more competitive than others when it comes to opportunities that combine an RV pad with No Snow. Ergo, if I spot a location that looks attractive it behooves me to get an application done ASAP instead of procrastinating. If we hesitate, the Dream Location will vanish fairly quickly.

In any case, having survived a couple of months of co-existing with the S.O. in the Guppy this Spring, we now feel confident that we can do the longer commitments required by federal agencies. Unlike the Missouri State Parks system, which is happy to have volunteers commit for a mere one month, federal agencies want you for at least 90 days, sometimes longer. The Corps of Engineers, for example, asks people to sign up for 6 months at some locations. The National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife, and the Forest Service aren't quite that demanding. Three months is generally sufficient, which is basically what we're looking at for next winter.

So what parks, forests, or wildlife refuges are we looking at right now? There are a couple parks that we've actually been to -- Fort Pulaski National Historic Site in Georgia, for example -- that have announcements up on There's also the strong temptation to try to go someplace we've never been, like a wildlife refuge in southern Arizona or a national forest in Florida. Fort Pulaski would like to find some VIPs who are interested in doing living history, including using Civil War weaponry, although they'll settle for general help, either clerical or maintenance. When we there a few years ago, the VIP pretending to be a CSA soldier struck me as a great example of how desperate the Confederates were for cannon fodder (the man was a geezer) so it's pretty clear that the living history volunteers do not have to be young. Still, I can't quite see the S.O. with his Yooper accent managing to be very convincing as a Confederate soldier. 

None of the announcements I've looked at so far have been for campground hosts. The application I just did was for a Visitor Use Assistant, which is the job title for the people who stand behind the counter in Visitor Centers and tell you where the restrooms are. Well, they do more than that, but I'm sure those people have days when they feel like the only question they're ever asked is where the ladies' room is. I'm contemplating responding to an announcement for another park that might involve working on interpretive materials. That could be fun, even if the park is a Civil War one and I'm generally not keen on the cannonball parks. Would we do campground hosting at a federal site? Maybe. . . .although it would depend a great deal on just which federal site it was.

Besides looking on, I really should do some emailing or phone calling and contact a couple of my favorite parks directly. I'd love to be a VIP at Hot Springs NP, for example, so really shouldn't just hope that one of these days they show up on the website.


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