By Bob Difley
While I’m on the subject of senior discounts, camp hosting, and volunteering (last Saturday’s blog, Do seniors deserve public lands campground discounts?), why not re-think the whole idea of volunteering. No matter which side of the political spectrum’s talking heads you may choose to believe, the reality is that the economy and jobs are going to take a while to recover to where we remember. What that means is that much of the work of public agencies that is defined as “non-essential” will not get done because personnel will be too busy working on “essential” work–however that is defined.
However, we RVers will quickly notice that this “n0n-essential” stuff includes keeping parks open, maintaining campgrounds, clearing trails, picking up litter, assisting campers, and being available to answer questions. The forest service, BLM, fish and wildlife agencies, Corps of Engineers, and our National Parks are all understaffed and could use some help.
So here we are, RVers who, like turtles that carry our self-contained homes around with us, can live comfortably just about anywhere, and require little in the way of support services. We have time on our hands, possess myriad talents and skills from a lifetime of work, have reached a time in our lives where we want to do something meaningful, be useful, give back to the community, try new things–and we can offer this wealth of talents and skills at a cost of practically nil, nada, nothing. Just a campsite.
There must be some astute politicians, upper-level supervisors, aware people in power, that recognize this vast wealth available to them. And what do we ask other than a place to park our home? Treat us as partners, associates, advisers, sounding boards. We have a lot to offer if you consider us more than minimum wage employees. But don’t expect us to want to work full time. In fact, I think 20 hours per week is more than enough. And support us with what counts, with the skills from people you need to pay, like responsive back-up in emergencies, medical problems, law enforcement, heavy maintenance. Look at all you get for little to nothing having to be taken out of the operating budget.
Give us interesting work to do, a degree of autonomy, some decision making–you might find out how good we are and how dedicated we can be. Think of how much better this country could run while we claw our way up out of the recession pit doing the work that diminished budgets don’t provide for. Think of what thousands of volunteer retirees and retiring baby-boomers could accomplish.
When you have a minute, check out my boondocking eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, and my newest eBook, 111Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for Your RV Lifestyle Buck.