How you can volunteer to stay in some of South Australia’s national parks

Combine your love of camping with helping others by being a campground host in a national park. Here’s how.

If you’re an avid camper, you might have come across a campground host on your last stay at one of South Australia's national parks.

They’re the people who greet you as your enter the park, generously volunteering their time to make your stay more enjoyable.

Whether it’s being on-hand to answer questions about the park, reminding you that it’s a total fire ban day, or helping to look after the upkeep of facilities like barbeques or toilets, campground hosts help local staff look after the place and make you feel at home while you’re far away from yours.

Sound appealing? Here’s everything you need to know about being a campground host.

What are you in for?

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at a national park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter or Christmas break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time – up to a few months – to support park rangers.

They’re not responsible for making sure visitors comply with the rules of the park – that’s the ranger’s job. But their job is to provide information to visitors that will help them enjoy their stay, and make it a safe one.

Campground hosts operate from numerous parks across the state, including Coffin Bay, Mount Remarkable, Dhilba-Guuranda Innes, Ikara-Flinders Ranges and Gawler Ranges national parks.

Who does it suit?

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around Australia or the world, and are a happy helper, then hosting could be right up your alley.

Campground hosts need to bring their own caravan, camper trailer or tent, and stay in the park for an agreed amount of time.

Hosts are provided with a volunteer uniform, get fully trained for the role, , and have regular contact with local rangers. 

Who already does it?

In SA’s national parks, hosts generally range from outdoor-loving people in their 20s to retirees in their mid-70s.

There’s several retired couples who regularly host over holidays and long weekends each year, and one couple who travels all the way from Victoria most years to host for a couple of months at Dalhousie Springs in Witjira National Park in the state’s far north.

Other hosts still work but enjoy hosting in their holidays. Many hosts say that they’ve loved the chance to visit different parks they’d never thought of going to before and they love the variety of the different hosting opportunities.

What’s in it for you?

As a campground host you get the best of both worlds. You get to wake up every morning to the stunning landscapes of our parks, and do a good deed by volunteering. Win win!

Your park entry and camping fees are taken care of, and for each year of active ‘hosting’ you receive free park access and free camping for up to five nights at a time in designated camping areas in more than 50 of our popular parks.

Hosts also often get to tag along with rangers and explore the more unusual and remote areas of the park. And all while ticking another wondrous park off your wish-list.

Interested? Learn more about the opportunities on offer as a campground host and how you can get involved.

There’s plenty of ways you can volunteer in nature. Check out our stories for details: 6 ways to volunteer in nature around Adelaide, 4 ways to help SA’s coastal environment, and How to become a volunteer ranger in SA’s national parks

(Main image courtesy of John and Susan O’Rourke)

This story was originally posted in May 2016.

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