HOSTING AT MUSKEGON STATE PARK
AUGUST 15, 2013
Our 2013 summer plans were somewhat up in the air. We needed to be in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore the first weekend in August for a family wedding so did not make any plans for campground hosting. However, in February we received a call from Muskegon State Park asking if we would be available to host for one month – August 15th to September 15th. Apparently they had our paperwork from the previous summer (when they did not have any openings). This worked out perfectly. Muskegon SP is about 120 miles from the wedding location and a week later. It enabled us to stay in Michigan through the summer and gave us the fall to travel home. It truly doesn’t get any better than this!
So on August 15th we left Traverse City SP around 10:00 and drove down to Muskegon State Park to start our new jobs. The drive down was very pretty although there were times it felt as though our teeth were knocking around in our heads due to the road and MH shocks! Air ride next time!
Got to the state park around 3:00 and checked in with the Ranger. We were handed a bundle containing name tags, t-shirts, DNR vests, hats, a large set of keys for the supply rooms, and a 5” three ring binder with information on being a host! (We can wear the vests with regular clothes or wear the t-shirt.)
Our site is located next to the bathrooms and we have a large white tent adjacent to our site with all kinds of stuff…..books, games, water floats, bulletin board with weather information, information on the programs of the week, pamphlets of the area, maps. All right next to us!
More than 1,000 acres are nestled between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan containing dunes, ponds, forests, fields, lakefront and coastal plain marsh. Day users and campers use the scenic beach. Snug Harbor picnic area and boat launch area are located on Lake Muskegon. The Lake Channel connects Lake Muskegon with Lake Michigan and offers barrier-free access. The park has two miles of sand beach and Lake Michigan and one mile on Muskegon Lake. There are twelve miles of marked trails. Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park is not far from the park.
There are two campgrounds with each having its own host. This park is called Lake Michigan CG and is located right on the lake. We have 102 sites with the majority of them being tent sites.
The Channel CG is located on the Ship Channel and Muskegon Lake. The majority of the sites in this campground are RV sites so Dave will be going down there Sunday morning to assist the hosts there with the sanitation station and getting the RV’s through and out.
Between the two campgrounds is the public beach and Snug Harbor with the boat ramp. The drive down to Channel CG is very scenic along Lake Michigan.
The Campground Host notebook was very informative and complete. Our duties include hosting a weekly coffee hour Saturday and Sunday mornings; provide or assist in at least one special activity such as the explorer guide’s fishing program or a craft program we conjure up; direct traffic and assist campers at the sanitation stations on Sunday (in the Channel CG), make tours of the campground, loan park equipment; check bathrooms for supplies and advise Ranger if there are issues. Mostly we are the campground ambassadors and our jobs are to visit with the campers!
The only part of this that had me concerned was the craft hour! It’s been years since I’ve done any kid crafts and didn’t know what to expect. We checked out the host supply room and found it full of craft supplies, ideas and also coffee supplies. There is also a host budget in case we want to buy something specific for crafts.
We had a quick dinner and walked the few steps to the top of the dune looking down on the beach and Lake Michigan. At this point Dave said, “Auhhh, we gotta do this for a month?” It was beautiful. Watched the sun sink into the lake and called it a day!
FRIDAY – DAY #1
Friday, our first “official” day on the job, we met with the Volunteer Liaison Ranger who went over the different areas of the park and discussed what he’d like us to do which was basically what we read.
Across the street from Lake Michigan Campground is the Muskegon Sports Complex with a luge. Not too far away is a water park and amusement park so this campground is very convenient for families. Hiking trails crisscross the park and all, in all, it is lovely.
We were getting ready to head down to Channel Campground to meet the hosts there when a car pulled up, and Laurie and Dale came to us. They are the CG hosts and have been here before so were a wealth of knowledge. We’ll also be coordinating with them regarding donut pickup for coffee hours and Sunday morning “sanitation station” assistance.
Last year when I started inquiring about hosting in Michigan, I was told we would need to attend a Campground Host Workshop held over a couple of days each year in April up in this area. You can host only two years in Michigan then this workshop is required. That’s probably why most of the Michigan hosts are from Michigan; it’s easier for them to attend the workshops. Laurie and Dale attended the workshop during which they learned about crafts for kids. I figured that was part of the seminar as you could only say so much about the rules, regs and history of the parks.
Laurie said she was going to do rock painting with fingernail polish and brought the supplies with her. We went into the “host storage area” and there were about 5 coffee cans of rocks and another 5 cans of nail polish …. so I have my craft for the summer! Also there were wood disks with holes drilled in so the kids could make necklaces and paint the wood disks. Another idea.
Laurie poured over the supplies and grabbed some things she would need. Although we won’t be doing the crafts together, we discussed when we would do them so they’d be the same time and day and that when the Scout Ranger was putting on a program, we didn’t do crafts. That leaves us about 3 Saturdays to do it. So I think we’ve got the craft thing covered!
We have two buildings with bathrooms and showers on each end of our campground and we check them three times or more a day to be sure all it OK. So……another treat of being here………the last thing we will do is check the lower bathhouses to be sure they are in good shape and then walk half a circle further to Ruth Anne’s Ice Cream Shop located just the other side of the park fence! We can then stroll back up to the upper campground, eating our ice cream, burning our calories and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan.