By Gordon Hopkins
The town of Fairbury is looking to find a campground host for Crystal Springs Park.
A campground host is a volunteer who lives and works at a campground. Services provided vary by site, but involve assisting campers and maintaining various campground facilities, such as cleaning toilets.
Crystal Springs had a camp host before, but not for several years.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Public Works Committee on Tuesday, February 15, 2022. City Administrator Robert Messbarger said: ‘This is a program that Mayor (Spencer) Brown and I are discussing since a while. I based it largely on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, their campground hospitality program. I contacted them several times. They said they had great success with it. They were really excited when I told them we were planning on doing this.
According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website, “Campground hosts are prepared to be ambassadors for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission who welcome campers and visitors to the State Park System. Campground hosts work approximately 20 hours a week in exchange for free camping, a power hook-up, and use of area showers, if available.
Messbarger said, “Essentially, it’s a volunteer program. The biggest cost to the city would be that we would waive camping fees for the allotted time. This would only be during the summer months of April 15 to October 15 when the water is open. That’s when we have the majority of campers. Last year we had 463 campers in total in 2021.”
In addition to providing assistance to campers, Messbarger noted, “We hope this program will help reduce vandalism, reckless drivers, and also increase the number of people who actually pay for the full weekend and increase also the responsibility there. ”
Councilwoman Kelly Davis said, “I like the idea of a host.”
In order to move forward, the committee had to decide where the host would be located. They discussed two possible locations.
“The first one is right there in the center of the majority of the parking lot. This one has full electrical hookups. And then the second place is on the south side there. It doesn’t have a full electrical hookup yet. It could be done, according to our electrical superintendent, with an estimate of about $500.
Messbarger added: “But this site would also have the potential to have a sewer connection, so the cost of that is unknown.”
Messbarger said: “So the staff would suggest wherever we choose the site, we put a little sign like they do at Game and Parks, just identify it so anyone passing by knows there’s a host of campground there.”
Councilman Brian Schmidt said: ‘So speaking with (Sheriff) Nick Georgie about it, he says for vandalism deterrence, the way out is better. You know, on the way, it’s probably best for the campground so they can tell you where to go, where to pay, all that stuff. But if someone is there to vandalize anything, they have to walk past someone who’s been camping.
Davis said, “If they’re vandalizing, they don’t care about those One Way signs.”
Brian Schmidt said: “I think it makes a difference. He said that’s what state parks told him.
The committee voted to recommend placing the host at the main campsite.
Councilman Phil Rogge asked, “Do we know, do we have people interested?
Messbarger replied, “We haven’t officially announced that. But I talk to people, it seems we have an interest.
By Gordon Hopkins