Little did I know at the time I took off on my southward adventure in January 2016 that I would stumble upon my workamping destination for my 2017 winter “home”. Since I was fairly new to the RVing lifestyle, I made a few mistakes regarding how to plan my camping destinations in Florida. I stayed in about 15 parks in less than 3 months while avoiding the north and its cold. Needless to say that was a lot of moving, breaking and setting up camp. Although very good practice for me, it was also a lot of work since I’m a single/solo nomad! That inexperience actually lead me to a park I fell in love with and have the pleasure to work in today!
Koreshan State Historic Site is located just off of a very busy Highway 41 South or Tamiami Trail between Fort Myers and Naples on the gulf. It is a small and little known park, but it has a big story! It is a historic story about a small group of people who were some of SW Florida’s early pioneer settlers who moved from Chicago to begin a New Jerusalem. Part of my job is to share that story with visitors. In exchange for 32 hours of volunteering per trailer site, I have the privilege to live in a 1940s trailer park known as the Volunteer Village positioned right along the beautiful Estero River. I’m within walking distance of my “office” or better known to visitors as the Koreshan Settlement. There are kayaks on site I can use when I’m off duty with easy in and out access to the river. There’s a little community dock shared between the rest of the volunteers who live here. A total of about 17 sites away from the main campground makes this little campground very homey. Not all sites have sewers, but the dump station is close enough for those without to take advantage of if they have their own “blue boy”. There is a clubhouse or recreation hall complete with refrigerators, stove and sink where our team meets, holds game night activities, hosts potlucks and other special activities. For those without sewer connections, there is a clean shower house with an attached laundry room and an outdoor laundry line. It’s wonderful to hang my sheets out to dry in the gorgeous Florida sun for that fresh spring scent! The Village is dog friendly and has a large dog run where my sweet four legged girl, Tippy spends many hours chasing lizards and squirrels. They also have wifi that we all share that costs only $5 per month! As with most places, you are asked not to stream or “hog” the data from others.
This park depends on volunteers to act as docents to educate visitors, conduct tours, run and upkeep the industrial area machinery, maintain buildings, staff the ranger station, clean the grounds and facilities and lots more! The park property was given to the state of Florida in 1961 as “a gift to the people” by the last remaining members of the Koreshan Unity. It is a settlement which was founded by an utopian society in the late 1800s. Some of their beliefs were very unusual but with a lot of hard work and perseverance they were able to continue and maintain their way of life for over 50 years. For more information on the history, check out these websites: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Koreshan or friendsofkoreshan.org
My job as a docent in the village is to educate visitors about the park and building history, promote events and activities, light housekeeping of historic buildings, perform in period costume and have fun! I enjoy all of these duties, but the one downside of being solo is I don’t have a spouse or partner with whom I can share the site rental hours. This makes it a bit challenging to get my 32 hours in for the week without working everyday. The shifts are 4 hours long so even working every day only gets me to 28 hours. However, our team meetings, individual study and play rehearsal counts toward those hours. Park staff have also been very supportive by providing me with options for my schedule so I can have days off to explore the area.
My favorite part of this job has been acting as a guide in the Ghost Walk. It is the annual fundraiser for the Friends of Koreshan State Historic Site held yearly during the last weekend of January and the first weekend of February. The proceeds help fund the upkeep, renovation and restoration of the historic buildings. It was a lot of work, but it also doubled as a training opportunity to learn even more about the history. I love the stage and entertaining our guests! It is an important project and the proceeds don’t nearly come close to the money needed to save these beautiful historic buildings. I’m going to insert my Public Service Announcement here by urging you to visit, share and promote our current fundraising efforts. Even just a $5 contribution, when combined with many others, can make a huge impact! To learn more please visit SaveOurBuildings.com.