Helpful hosts at ND State Parks

Campground hosts are on duty throughout the busy camping season at North Dakota State Parks. Kim Fundingsland/MDN

They are a great help. No arguing that. Just ask a member of the staff at any of North Dakota’s State Parks. You’ll quickly learn that campground hosts are a wonderful addition to every camping season.

“We really like them,” said Chad Trautman, manager, Fort Stevenson State Park. “They are invaluable with the service they provide us.”

Campground hosts come from virtually anywhere in the United States. At Fort Stevenson State Park the volunteer hosts this summer are from Florida, South Carolina and North Dakota. Hosts normally volunteer for 30 day periods.

“Some take two of those. Often they are retirees,” said Trautman. “They help with special events, greeting campers, helping with parking and such. We use them in many capacities.”

“They stay and enjoy our parks for four weeks,” added Nina Pettys, campground host program coordinator, Lake Metigoshe State Park. “We have a family that makes it kind of their family adventure. They are here at Lake Metigoshe for their 10th year this summer.”

Of course, as volunteers, there’s not too much demand put on campground hosts. Some apply for the positions as an opportunity to see a different part of the country than they might otherwise visit or just to meet new people. Sometimes they are first-timers to North Dakota who come scratch the state off their bucket lists.

“For some North Dakota is their last state to visit of all 50 states,” said Pettys. “They are surprised at what we have here in North Dakota.

“We are so appreciative of them. When we are not in the campground a camper can almost always catch up with a campground host,” said Trautman. “They are our eyes and ears in the campground.”

In exchange for volunteering their time campground hosts receive free, full-service camping for the time they are in the park. The campground host program has proven to be a great way for volunteers to spend some summer days with wonderful scenery and people with similar interests – enjoying the outdoors.

“My goodness! They are wonderful volunteers who love to help out the park staff and help our campers,” exclaimed Pettys. “The majority are retired but not all of them. Most have volunteered in other states.”

Pettys said she usually receives a “lot of applications” for campground host duties every year. This year was no exception. However, said Pettys, she has had some cancellations which has resulted a few openings remaining at State Parks this summer.

Campground host duties may include:

Welcoming campers into the park

Providing information on park facilities and services

Assisting campers in setting up when necessary

Assisting in the promotion of park activities and events

Relaying visitor comments and concerns to park staff members

Policing campground for litter

Selling firewood

Notifying a park ranger of a violation of park regulations or a safety hazard

Source: NDSP

Volunteers in Parks (V.I.P.) program

Don’t have time to volunteer as a Campground Host? There are plenty of other volunteer opportunities available. Whether you are interested in visitor services, photography, interpretation, research, history, maintenance work, art or office work, the VIP program can provide you with a meaningful volunteer experience. If you would like to volunteer your special skills, don’t hesitate to contact your nearest state park. Request information from the park you are interested in working.

Source: NDSP

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