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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mundane But Important Tasks

I wish I could say that all the tasks we take on here at our winter workamping job at the J. Strom Thurmond COE in SC/GA were amazing, interesting, even outstanding, but in reality, like life itself, sometimes they are mundane.

That doesn't mean that they aren't important, though, and we love the variety and the chance to get out in the beautiful countryside around Thurmond Lake (or Clarks Hill Lake if you're living on the Georgia side).

We head up the Water Safety Program and bring our program to grade schools in towns around the lake, teaching students about how to use life jackets and stay safe while swimming in the lake.  We usually reach over 6000 students every year.  It's a lot of fun interacting with the kids.

One program in place is the loaner life jackets.  All the swimming areas have life jacket loaner boards where kids (and adults, too) can borrow life jackets to use.  The life jackets are provided by generous companies like Sea Tow and foundations like the Scotty Craig Memorial Foundation and the Power Squadron to stock up our loaner boards. 

In the course of the summer, sun, sand and use cause a lot of wear and tear on the life jackets and they have to be inspected and inventoried for the upcoming year.  Some life jackets get torn or zippers and clips break so they have to be discarded.  Once we know what we have on hand by type and size, new replacements can be ordered to restock the loaner boards.  Marti and I spent a couple of days in a storage shed getting everything in order.

We kept this job for rainy days, which we've had way too many of this fall.  We did get a couple of days of cloudy but dry weather to go out and inspect many of the park's day use and beach areas.  We've completed a few but we have many more to do.  Some of the things we look at besides picnic tables are shelters, with their water and electric hookups, as well as the roofs and trees around them.  There are also hundreds of grills that have to be looked over, too. 
 I go around each one and tap all the metal bottoms from underneath with a hammer.

Today I found several that have rusted out and need to be replaced before someone comes along and gets hot coals dropped on their feet.

I tape off the grills and we note their location on our inspection sheet.

Marti carries a large notebook to document every problem we find.  It has a comprehensive inspection sheet for every park so we hopefully don't miss anything and can get needed repairs done over the winter for next season.

Other things, such as swings need a good eyeball put on them to ensure they are safe and in good condition.

All the beaches receive a good going over, too to make sure they are up to snuff.
Since most of the parks have been closed for the season, to reopen in late May, the roads are interesting to drive on with all the leaves covering the asphalt.  Sort of spooky, I have to be careful to stay on the road and not go driving off into the woods.

As strange as it seems, we also have to keep watch for people that are camping inside the closed parks.  It happens very often, when we come across them, we call for a ranger to come out and escort the people off the park grounds.

We found a lean to built by someone in a closed park, with all the rain we've had, I don't think they stayed too dry.

We are keeping busy and enjoying our work here, there is nothing better than getting outside in nature and the satisfaction of contributing to keep our parks in good condition for others to enjoy.  Maybe it's mundane, but it works well for us and Marti will be the first one to tell you it keeps me out of trouble.   ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. You two really put a lot of effort into making the park and the program at your COE succeed. I bet your park shines and who knows how many lives you just may be responsible for saving in the future.

  2. With all of your years in the Coast Guard, I'd say you were the perfect person to inspect life jackets. :)

  3. You guys are quite a team. Looks like a real variety of inspection jobs. A lean to in a closed park? Must have been someone really desperate. Or a kid pretending who knows what.

  4. Do people still use those charcoal grilles? We have a few at our park, but I've never seen them being used. Everybody seems to be into gas grilles nowadays.

  5. Every job you do has a purpose and somebody has to do it. Why do you want to stay out of trouble?

    1. Because now that I'm retired, I don't have enough money for bail.... :cD

    2. And he knows there is a very good chance Marti may forget to post it. :)

  6. Teaching so many kids about water safety likely means someone stays alive who might not have otherwise-what can be better than that!

  7. Your mundane tasks sound way better then sweltering here in the heat in Tampa.

  8. I sure miss working at the COE. Much more pleasant 'mundane' tasks than the back (and feet!) breaking work at Amazon!

  9. They may be mundane but it is often just those things that make the world a whole lot better place. So keep it up.

  10. You two are a great team!!! Thanks again for keeping everyone safe and braving the elements to make it happen. Hope the sun returns and makes your efforts a bit more pleasurable!!!

  11. I'm with Kevin! I have a feeling you guys are over achievers. But thanks for doing our share. ;-D

  12. I'm with Kevin! I have a feeling you guys are over achievers. But thanks for doing our share. ;-D