This is our second season volunteering at Payne Lake Campground. Payne Lake is in the Talledega National Forest, south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We liked it so much last year that we decided to come back. The forest service really knows how to make us volunteers feel welcome and appreciated!
Our duties here include staffing the entrance station on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are two camphost spots, one on each side of the lake, so we agreed with the other couple that we would staff the booth all day every other weekend. During the week, we drive around the campground a couple of times a day, doing the site checks, and checking the bathrooms to make sure they are stocked with toilet paper, and that the heaters are working.
We also pick up litter and clean out the fire rings on the campsites. Theyask for a total of 32 hours a week of work. We don’t have to do anything that is really hard, and we don’t have to clean any bathrooms. It really is a good volunteer gig.
In exchange for the work that we do, we are given a full hook up campsite, propane, and satellite internet service. (Verizon Mi-fi also gets a good signal here) They have also put a washer and dryer and a small freezer in the maintenance shop on the property for us to use. AND, several times during the winter, someone comes by and puts venison in the freezer for us to eat. Last year, they gave us some very nice jackets with a “Forest Service Volunteer” patch on them. Then when it was time to leave last year, they had a cook out and gave us more presents!
Today they had a Christmas luncheon at the work center. It was a very nice party with lots of food, and time to talk and get to know many of the forest service employees. They were all so nice!
Oh, and did I mention that they give us this nice truck to drive while we are on forest service business? Classy! There is a golf cart, too. Because we have business we need to take care of next winter in Georgia, we have already confirmed our volunteer job at a Georgia State Park. That means that Joe is looking for someone to replace us next winter. So, if anyone is interested in taking this spot, we’ll be leaving around April 10 to head back west for the summer. He needs someone during the summer, too.
Payne Lake Recreation Area has two campgrounds–one on the west side (which is the one we ae assigned to) and one on the east side. The West Side Campground has 18 campsites, 8 of which have electric and water, and 10 that have just water connections. The East Side Campground has 35 primitive sites. There is a day use area, a nature trail, a boat ramp, and a dump station. There aren’t many campers during the week, but on weekends during hunting season, it is full much of the time. You don’t take any money–the visitors fill out their own passes and drop the money in a pipe safe. We are here pretty much to prevent theft and vandalism in the area.
If you’d like more info, you can email me at fabgrandma @ gmail.com and I can send you Joe’s phone number and email address.