Rolland Jensen enjoys the high life - 9,500 feet
Rolland Jensen recently was recently awarded for his service to the Manti-LaSal National Forest. He logged 560 hours of volunteer work for 2009. Working as a campground host from Ferron Reservoir to Duck Fork, he spent the summer months at the elevation of 9,500 feet just below Skyline Drive from the moment the roads were passable to after Labor Day. And he says the job was a labor of love.
Jensen, with his wife, Linda, and his two children, Kyle, 12, and Marquee, 9, along with their poodle, a wire hair pointer, a Macaw parrot, and occasionally friends and other family members, loaded up his truck, four wheelers, boat, and his 26-foot trailer for an experience of a lifetime.
"I love camping, and our family has been camping for 30 years. We have always gone camping as a family for two weeks out of the year, so this was just an extension of our camping vacation." stated Jensen.
As a camp host and living in his own trailer, the Forest Service provides him a spot in the campground with water hook up and sewer, and he receives a field per-diem and mileage for use of his own vehicle. He gets two days off a week to do laundry and grocery shop. In return, acting as campground host has its work and its perks.
Volunteers are responsible for cleaning and stocking the bathrooms, (Ever wondered who the bathroom fairy is?). He also picks up trash, checks campers for ATV compliance, trains campers and the public on the Forest Service regulations. He also collects money for the cabin rentals and camp sites, hands out maps, builds and maintains trails, refurbishes the redwood signs and fences, improves campgrounds, cleans fire pits, cuts logs, and does a lot of public relations.
"People are very nice, and I usually don't have very many problems with them. I just have to sometimes remind them what the rules are," said Jensen. He also has helped people with mechanical problems with their outdoor equipment. Other times he has lent campers supplies such as air pumps, spatulas, eggs, ketchup, and more, and occasionally he helps people get medical attention when they have health problems or an accident.
Volunteerism is not all work, but enjoyment too. Jensen takes his family with him, and even his wife and kids help with the work.
"It was the best summer I have ever spent," said Jensen, "It is a great alternate for the kids to sitting and watching TV all summer. The kids get to fish, swim in the lake, ride four wheelers, watch the wildlife, and meet kids who are camping. They get a lot of play, but also help out with the chores and get to associate with the campers, and learn public relation skills as well. The people are very nice, the scenery and temperature is enjoyable, and the living conditions are fantastic with the right weather".
During inclement weather, which does plague camping, Jensen and his family, hunker down.
"We have had some hailstorms, and it once rained for a week, so it gave us time to read and watch videos, " he pointed out.
This will be Jensen's second year as campground host. The family will be joining him on another adventure. This year, with a reduction in Forest Service personnel, his boundaries will expand from Skyline Drive to just above Millsite Reservoir.
Jensen graduated in Forest Recreation, but said, "This job does not need a prerequisite to do, but has allowed me to live my dream."
Campground host jobs are available all across the country through the Forest Service, but there are also private companies that contract with the forest service to manage certain campgrounds, and these companies hire campground hosts to take care of campgrounds.
Volunteers may or may not have set hours. Some work all season, others including church groups, boy scouts, dedicated hunters, senior volunteers and more, may provide a day or two of service.
For information about how to get started, contact the local Forest Service office in Price.