We’re just finishing up our first volunteering experience: three months at San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas in La Porte, TX.
Let me start with the not-so-good. This Texas State Historic Park is surrounded by miles of petrochemical industry. There’s a constant “industrial roar” in the background. The various plants test their alarm systems at various times, including one at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings! When the wind is from certain directions the odor of the plants can be oppressive, in fact, one camp host had to abandon their scheduled time here because her asthma was being worsened by all the above. Finally, the Houston Ship Channel is also very close, and while we’ve enjoyed watching all this nearby activity, the sound of tug and ship traffic reminds us a bit of what it might sound like if we had a slow motion freeway just outside our back window.
While these negatives are real and should be considered by potential volunteers we’ve found that the positives far outweigh the negatives. We’ve enjoyed learning the story of this historic site. We’re literally camped where the Texas army camped in preparation for the historic battle in which Texas won it’s independence in 1836. One of our volunteer efforts was working with a staff member, manning “touch tables” filled with items representative of that era.
Much of our time has been spent working aboard the Battleship Texas. This historic ship served in both WWI and WWII – and is one of the few remaining ships to have served both wars. We’ve helped in the ship archives and also served as sort of good-will ambassadors, greeting people and telling them about the ship.
We had fun representing Texas State Parks at the Houston Rodeo, helped operate an archery range for San Jacinto Day, and chauffeured people around on a four wheeler for another special event. The staff has been a joy to work with.
Now, if you are ready to sign up, I have both good news and bad news for you. Here’s the bad news, there are a limited number of positions at this facility and people tend to return year after year. They generally have first choice of dates and they come for the winters. Here’s the good news: if you are willing to come in the late spring through early fall, there are generally volunteer opportunities. The weather will be hot and humid, but if you love history and have a reason to want to be in the Houston area, you might want to look into this. It starts with your signing up on this Texas Parks and Wildlife site. Volunteers park their RV’s in full hookup, 50 amp sites located either on a parking lot by the maintenance building or nearby.
In spite of the negatives, we’ve enjoyed our time at San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas and, yes, we’ve already signed up for next winter.
For now, though, the road is calling and we’re about to begin our 2015 Adventure!