My wife, Kathy, and I have been campground hosts at Heart Lake’s Wilderness Campground for the past 8 years. For one week, each summer, we volunteer our time as campground hosts, helping to provide campers with a quality and safe camping experience. Our week at Heart Lake is always enjoyable and we look forward to it each year. The campground host program is available to all Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) members and we are still looking for campground hosts for this upcoming summer.
The week as a campground host begins at 12 noon on a Sunday and ends a week later at 12 noon. A typical day for us begins early when we walk from the campground to the Adirondak Loj to check our email using the Loj’s wifi. This is followed by breakfast in the Loj dining room where we interact with guests and some campers who sign up for breakfast. High Peaks’ hiking experiences are exchanged; “newbies” are given advice; when asked, we suggest trails and hikes to inexperienced hikers, etc. At 8am, we check in at the front desk of the Loj where we are given a list of late camping arrivals to contact about registering at the Loj. Sometimes, there are other messages to transmit to campers also. We then make a circuit of all the campsites, picking up litter as we go. We check the washroom to ensure both male and female sides have necessary supplies. Usually we finish our loop between 9 and 9:30am and again check in at the front desk to let them know of any problems.
At that point, we are free for a few hours. We walk to the Loj kitchen to make our trail lunch and then have the opportunity to hike somewhere that’s not too long—Rocky Falls, Marcy Dam, Mt. Jo, Mt Van Hoevenburg from Heart Lake or other trails in the vicinity such as Owl Head Lookout, Blueberry Cobble, Rooster Comb, Baxter Mtn, Cooper Kiln Pond, Haystack Mtn (Saranac Lake), etc. With the campground host responsibilities, there isn’t enough time to hike the longer High Peaks trails, although a few times I have climbed a High Peak while Kathy did the host duties.
Later in the afternoon, we make another circuit of the campground. This time, we check to see if campers who should have checked out actually left. We enter unoccupied campsites and pick up litter or other items that should not be there. We also check occupied sites where no one is around for food left out that bears and other animals could be attracted to. Since we are both musicians (hammered dulcimer, flute, pennywhistle) late afternoon is a good time for us to practice at our campsite.
Dinner at the Loj is next, with people extolling the day’s exploits and planning the following day’s hikes. After dinner we return to our site where we sell firewood after the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) is closed. We usually sit around a fire reading between sales. Quiet hours start at 10pm where an ADK staff member walks the campground, speaking with groups who are too loud. Prior to the 10am quiet time, usually around 9:30-9:45 we make a loop in the campground to warn people of the impending quiet time. The campground has a short list of rules that we remind campers of during our interactions with them on each of our “walk-throughs”.
If the above appeals to you, you should consider becoming a campground host. ADK’s Volunteer Campground Host Program is currently open for registrations for the 2014 season. If you are interested, email me at ADK.CGH@gmail.com.