Take a Step Back in Time
- Bob Hazlett, Jamestown, OH, USA
(Volunteering at Panhandle Pioneer Settlement (PPS))
Campsites for WorKampers
We are Bob and Michelle Hazlett from Jamestown, OH. We are completing our first WorKamper adventure as volunteers at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement (PPS), Blountstown, FL during September and October 2011.
Blountstown is a rural community in the Florida panhandle (Calhoun County) about halfway between Panama City and Tallahassee.
PPS brings together the material history of life between 1840 and the beginning of World War II. The mission is to acquire, document, research, and restore buildings and tools that were used in daily life. The settlement is arranged to simulate an agricultural community and serve the public as a rural living history museum.
PPS relies heavily on volunteers. Local volunteers turn out in large numbers to help with community events held at the settlement. There are five FHU campsites for full-time workampers. In addition, workampers have use of a laundry facility and access to the internet through the settlement's wi-fi network. While not officially acknowledged, there is a lot of cooking and free eating that includes the workampers.
Here is a cross section of the current workamper population at PPS. One couple has been workamping for over 15 years. They came here frequently in years past and now have pretty much settled down to permanent full-time. A second couple is here for the winter (Sept. to May). This is their third workamping experience. We are here for two months (Sept.-Oct.) between other commitments. Another couple is scheduled to arrive in December and stay the winter. People with varied backgrounds and from all walks of life make this a very interesting experience.
Workamper duties vary. PPS asks for ten hours per week per person, but workampers are expected to participate fully in the setup, conduct, and cleanup involved with the community events held at the settlement. Beyond that they operate almost a "job jar" system -- "if you see something that needs to be done and it interests you, do it."
Some tasks are regular, routine,
and continuing, such as storekeeper, tour guide, and grounds maintenance. Speaking of continuing, if you enjoy painting, you can consider PPS to be heaven. There is no end to things and structures that need to be painted. Sort of like the Golden Gate Bridge, you could spend your entire stay painting and not get caught up. Other tasks come from an ever changing list of one time repairs and improvements.
This is what we did with our two month stay at PPS. Bob assisted in grounds maintenance, trash collection and disposition, and facility setup for events. He completed the restoration of two hand plows which are used as farm implement exhibits here at the Settlement and in traveling displays. He selected for his big task the stripping and refinishing of the floor in one of the exhibit rooms. This task is a prerequisite to being able to display the collections of 19th century wood tools and railroad tools.
Michelle served as shopkeeper in the country store/gift shop, conducted visitor tours, and assisted in facility setup for events. She chose to perform the semi-annual house cleaning of the 19th century cabins and all of the artifacts therein. During this task, she discovered a container of partially completed quilt squares (circa 1900) in one of the cabins. She is an accomplished quilter, so she undertook the task of completing a quilt, using these squares, to be displayed here at the Settlement as representing this period in American history.
We enjoyed "taking a walk back in time" in this unusual workamping experience.
We also have another article about workamper volunteer opportunities with the Pioneer Panhandle Settlement. Click here to read it.
The Pioneer Panhandle Settlement has special workamper volunteer opportunities. One of them is helping with a Journey Stories exhibit with the Smithsonian. Click here to read more about this special opportunity for RVing volunteers. Go to the Workers On Wheels Work for RVers and Campers blog.