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The Mature Traveler

Being a Campground Host Can Help Trim Costs

May 10, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

Trimming travel costs is a pursuit not limited to mature travelers, although there is a sizable segment of same locked into the fixed-income, rising-costs syndrome. So for those who appreciate such depreciation in travel expenses, here are a couple of ideas:

The first is addressed to mature campers. Again, it is not strictly limited to the mature, but the time requirements--at least a month's stay--narrows the market to those with loads of discretionary time.

The U.S. Forest Service is always looking for volunteer campground hosts (preferably couples) to serve in the many national forests and national recreation areas across the country. In return for a free camp or trailer site for a month (or longer), campground hosts provide a number of services. These include checking compliance at campgrounds with entry fees, light cleanup and maintenance and providing information for campers. The duties do not include law enforcement.

"We've found it is a job that fits the life style of retirees," says John Drake, director of the project for the northern Forest Service region, based in Missoula, Mont. "It's a great thing for those who enjoy meeting people and at the same time offers them an opportunity to experience things they've wanted to do for years, like fishing and hiking."

Campground hosts are needed now through September. Hosts provide their own trailers for accommodations and must live in the campground. Volunteers come from all over the country, according to Drake, some of them returning to the same area year after year.

Reduction in recreation budgets and the increased demand for outdoor recreation use has placed greater emphasis on the Forest Service's volunteer program. Chances of hosting a particular campground in an area of interest to you are good if you get your application in as soon as possible. A listing of the nine Forest Service offices supplying campground host information is listed at column's end.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center has come up with a unique idea for retirees to provide a useful and helpful service and at the same time qualify for an expense-paid trip for two.

The incentive program is the concept of Barbara Stadler, volunteer director of the medical center, who is seeking more seniors to become involved in the hospital's volunteer program.

In return for 550 hours of service over a year's time, the volunteer gets a two- to three-day trip to San Francisco or Lake Tahoe; for 750 hours over the same span, volunteers get a similar stay at Vancouver, British Columbia, or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

"We're looking for retirees with all sorts of useful skills in many volunteer projects," Stadler says, "and providing travel incentives is our way of both seeking them out and thanking them for their help."

For more information, write Barbara Stadler, Volunteer Director, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, 1509 Wilson Terrace, Glendale, Calif. 91206-4006, or phone (818) 409-8057.

For those considering a visit to the nation's capital, the Golden Washington Club, a program of discounts at more than 1,400 Washington merchants, has been expanded from a resident-only status to now include any visitors age 60 and over.

The discounts, averaging 10% or better, are to be found all over the city and include tourist-related services such as hotels, restaurants, tours and attractions as well as beauty salons (we used to call them parlors), dry cleaners and others more appropriate for residents.

Budget limitations in the District of Columbia's Committee to Promote Washington preclude mailing the guide out in advance. But it is readily available at hotels or may be picked up at the Washington Tourist Information Center, 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.

But to help provide discount and special package information on the capital's accommodations, the Promotion Committee does have a hotel brochure and other tips for seniors. Write to: D.C. Committee to Promote Washington, 415 12th St. Northwest, Suite 312, Washington, D.C. 20004.

For information on campground hosting in the nine Forest Service regions, the address should begin: Forest Service, USDA, followed by one of these specific street addresses:

(Alaska region)--Federal Office Building, Juneau, Alaska, 99802. Phone (907) 586-8863.

(Northern states region)--Federal Building, P.O. Box 7669, Missoula, Mont. 59807. Phone (406) 329-3511.

(Rocky Mountain region)--11177 West 8th Ave., P.O. Box 25127, Lakewood, Colo. 80225. Phone (303) 236-9431.

(Southwestern states)--Federal Building, 517 Gold Ave. S.W., Albuquerque, N.M. 87102. Phone (505) 842-2401.

(Intermountain states)--Federal Building, 324 25th St., Ogden, Utah 84401. Phone (801) 625-5352.

(Pacific Southwest)--630 Sansome St., San Francisco, Calif. 94111. Phone (415) 556-4310.

(Pacific Northwest)--319 S.W. Pine St., Box 3623, Portland, Ore. 97208. Phone (503) 221-3625.

(Southern states)--1720 Peachtree Road N.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30367. Phone (404) 347-4177.

(Eastern Region)--310 W. Wisconsin Ave., Room 500, Milwaukee, Wis. 53203. Phone (414) 291-3693.

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