Meet Me In Montana
Moving is an overwhelming daunting undertaking. Even more so when making the transition from a “sticks and bricks” house to an RV.
All the headaches and stresses of moving aside, one of the biggest stress for us was deciding where we were going to go once we were out of the house.
It’s one thing to say “Hey let’s go to Disneyland this year!” or “Road Trip! Let’s go to the Grand Canyon.”
When you have the freedom to spread out a map of the USA and say “Okay, pick a place. Anywhere you want to go, we can go”, what was before a simple decision has become an overwhelming, ginormous ball of deer-in-the-headlights, brain-cramping, stress-inducing case of indecision.
Imagine many a conversation like this:
Courtney: Where do we want to go?
Courtney: Okay, where in Oregon?
Me: … Ugh. Fine. How about Montana?
Courtney: Great! Where in Montana?
Since we first decided to go on this adventure, that’s pretty much how the conversation went — every time.
At some point, we finally decided on Montana and the Glacier National Park area, but we still had to narrow down the exactly where in Glacier National Park. It had to be somewhere that would allow both of us to work from home.
Then I got laid off and that changed long term plan quite a bit. What would I do? What would we do?
Camp hosting was an idea we’d been throwing around almost as soon as we got the news of my impending layoff.
The majority are volunteer positions and in return, you’re given a free campsite (or discount on fees) and other spiffs in exchange for your time volunteering for the national park/forest service. Unsurprisingly, camp host slots fill up fast as the campground (Forest Service/Army Corp of Engineers) usually take the applications well ahead of the coming season.
With that in mind, we still thought it would be a good idea to apply for some positions — who knows, we might get lucky, even though we’ve got zero experience in actual camp hosting duties and someone may have to cancel/back out at the last minute, or we’d secure a spot for next season.
Fast forward days, probably weeks of searching various state and government websites, 3rd party and private websites for camp hosting positions that I’m qualified to do (no, really…some positions required prior backhoe/tractor or horse wrangling or carpentry experience) and 30+ applications submitted.
Got a call Thursday from the ranger in charge of Wayfarers State Park in Montana.
One of the two camp hosts has to leave unexpectedly. The opening is a relatively easy one, responsibilities- and duties- wise and the ranger thought I’d be a good fit as a camp hosting newbie. 1/2 an hour of talking on the phone, provided references called and you’re now reading a blog post from the newest camp host for Wayfarers State Park!
Long story even longer, we’ll be hauling our RV butt up to Big Fork, Montana on the 1st of July, arrive on the 3rd or 4th (brutal, yes, but we’ve made similar trips before).
We’ll be there through September and I’ll be putting in 24-32ish hours a week — 3 days on, 3 off, never stuck always working weekends. Courtney and I will have plenty of time to explore the gorgeous nature we’re helping others to enjoy as well.
Being in one place for 3 months isn’t exactly what we’d talked about doing — we had a ‘stay put for a month, move to another’ idea in mind, but you know what? How many people our age, not to mention in our situation, have an opportunity like this given to them? So, Hell yeah, we can stay put for a couple months longer!
What I learned? Apply for anything and everything that is within your abilities, even if it’s in the current season and the posting says something like “spots are usually filled quickly, apply before the season starts is best” as last minute openings can become available (true story or I wouldn’t be blogging on this topic!).
I applied for a large number of the positions through Volunteer dot gov, but in the case of Wayfarer, I went ‘to the source’, Montana State Parks Volunteer page.