The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is offering free camping in the summer of 2011 for outdoor lovers who volunteer as campground hosts at Michigan state parks or state forest campgrounds. The Campground Host Program, established by the DNRE, allows individuals to camp in a state park or state forest campground at no charge in return for providing visitor assistance in the campground.

“Being a campground host combines the fun of camping, with the satisfaction of helping fellow campers,” said Ron Olson, DNRE Recreation Division chief. “Hosts stay as our guests and, in return, help welcome other campers to our beautiful state parks, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds.”

Hosts direct visitors to their campsites, answer questions about the park or state forest, arrange campground activities and perform light maintenance and other services, depending on the host’s talents and interests. Retired couples, teachers and students, as well as families, are just some of the people who have enjoyed volunteering as campground hosts.

Campground hosts can be individuals or teams. Hosts must be at least 18 years old, provide services five days/30 hours per week (including weekends and holidays), serve a minimum of four consecutive weeks and furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items. State park hosts must attend a two-day training session the end of April 2011 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon. This training is not required of state forest campground hosts.

Campground hosts are chosen by park and forest managers who may require an interview or request additional information. Selection is based on the individual’s familiarity with the state park or state forest system, their camping experience, special skills, availability, knowledge of the area and the needs of the specific park or forest campground.

Hosts especially are needed during the busy camping season, which can begin as early as April in state parks located in southern Michigan. Many of last year’s campground hosts will be returning this year; however, vacancies still exist at park and forest campground locations throughout Michigan.

Many rustic campgrounds found throughout Michigan’s six state forests located in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula also are in need of hosts. Information and applications are available from the DNRE’s Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers. Persons interested in being a campground host at a state park should apply directly to the park of their choice. For more information on campground host positions in state parks and recreation areas contact Pam Ames at 517-467-7401; for state forest campgrounds please contact Ada Takacs at 989-275-5151 ext. 2049.



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