This week as I was enjoying the sunshine on a fresh air break, I began hearing one of my favorite sounds: birds singing and chirping. Not just any birds, but those amazing birds that are beginning to slowly make the journey northward on their spring migration. However, that sound meant more to me than the opportunity to see some of the birds that I’ve missed over the winter months. It also brought me the excitement of knowing that another migration that our park staff enjoys every spring is almost upon us: the migration of the “regular” campers.
For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “regular” campers, let me explain. “Regulars” are those families that come back to our park every spring like clockwork. They might come every weekend or stay with us for a few weeks at a time.
They are people that we have come to know like family. We know their names and faces by heart; we know who makes the best pear preserves, homemade ice-cream, and fried fish. We look forward to their arrival and we enjoy catching up on all that we have missed. We hear about everything from the joys of retirement to the hardships of aging. For me it is an absolute pleasure to stop and talk awhile as I make my evening rounds; or to just drive through the campground and be greeted with warm smiles and friendly waves of the hand.
Our “regulars” are a group of families who are indispensable to our park and the state park system in general. They are a group of campers who have an appreciation for all the work that goes into making the park run smoothly. They are a great sounding board when asking about changes in the park. They will gladly tell you their honest opinion both good and bad. That is just another endearing trait that I admire in our “regulars”. They also provide some of the best advertising a person could ask for. They are constantly recruiting kids and grand kids to the park, and they make other campers who are just passing through feel right at home. I love watching our “regulars” approach a family who has just pulled into a campsite for the night and ask them if they need help setting up or if they would like to join them for dinner. They make new friends everyday and sometimes become “camping buddies” for life.
“Regulars” are also some of the best volunteers for programs and special events. They are the people that step up to help us out with things like taking pictures during events, greeting people as they come up to programs, helping kids learn how to fish, and picking up litter along our one mile stretch of adopted highway.
For those of you out there reading this blog who are “regulars”, let me take a moment to thank you for being one of the reasons I come to work every day. You make the hard and hectic days bearable and the fun days even more exciting. For those of you who aren’t sure if you fall into the “regular” category yet, I challenge you to get to know your favorite park a little more this year. Get to know the staff, see the park in different seasons, and take the opportunity to experience some of the special events your park has to offer.
If you don’t have a favorite park yet, let me invite you to my park, Lake Poinsett State Park. We love our regulars and we are always excited to see them “migrate” back to our park year after year!
Katherine Evans is the Assistant Superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park. Educated at the University of Michigan, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. She began her career with Arkansas State Parks at Village Creek State Park in 2008 as a Seasonal Interpreter. She became the Assistant Superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park in January of 2009. She is a member of the National Association for Interpretation and a Certified Interpretive Guide.
Josh Epperson has been the Superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park since November 2008. He started as a Seasonal Interpreter at Village Creek State Park in March 2002 and has since worked at various other parks in Eastern Arkansas. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. A native of Arkansas, Josh grew up camping in Arkansas State Parks and is now living a dream of working in the park system.