For the last two years since my husband and I have been traveling in our RV full-time, we have spent the summers volunteering at Oregon State Parks to be close to our family. We’ve chosen working at visitor centers near them because these type of jobs give us the most time off to visit with them, as well as time to explore the area. We spent June & July at Champoeg State Heritage Area because it’s not far from our Portland family. At their visitor center they had us rotating with two full days on and four days off! This was the a perfect schedule for us. Though I didn’t do a lot of photography during those months, I did have time to work on photography related projects.
Volunteer hosting jobs give you a free campsite with full hookups during your stay. They also give you a volunteer state parks pass that you can use in all Oregon State Parks that charge a fee. Some host jobs provide use of their washers & dryers.
Currently, I’m in Central Oregon volunteering with my husband at Smith Rock State Park. We work at their welcome center 20 hours a week. Living on the property of Smith Rock State Park also gives me plenty of photo opportunities. Not only here at Smith Rock but throughout the Bend area. I just love this part of the state even though it’s been pretty hot.
After our duties are done for this month, we have no further plans to volunteer at any other state park location this year. I will be focusing on traveling and photography, starting in September.
Last year I purposely planned to be at Smith Rock during the solar eclipse this year. I naively thought I would have a front row seat for photographing it! Hah! Well, since 500,000 people are estimated to be descending upon Central Oregon for this once in a lifetime event, I will definitely not be photographing it. The Oregon State Parks have been planning for well over a year for the amount of people that will come to some of their state parks close to the path of totality. As a volunteer, I’ve been in meetings with rangers listening to their planning and what they are anticipating might or might not happen during the event. This park is relying on lots of volunteers to help out and make sure people stay safe and that fires don’t start. My husband and I will be working extra hours at the welcome center and jumping in to help where ever else they need us.
Personally, I wouldn’t enjoy photographing in crowds. That just doesn’t sound fun at all with so many people! I will put on my eclipse ready glasses though and look up and witness the event. I will be more satisfied knowing that I’m helping out the Oregon State Parks. Oregon has some of the best state parks in the country and I hope to enjoy them for years to come.