Sunday, January 15, 2012

Take A Step Back In Time


Article published on Work-for-RVers-and-Campers Website, 14 Jan 2012

We are Bob and Michelle Hazlett from Jamestown, OH. We recently completed our first WorKamper adventure as volunteers at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement (PPS), Blountstown, FL during September and October 2011. Blountstown is a rural community in the Florida panhandle halfway between Panama City and Tallahassee.

PPS brings together the material history of life between 1840 and the beginning of World War II. The mission is to acquire, document, research, and restore buildings and tools that were used in daily life. The settlement is arranged to simulate an agricultural community and serve the public as a rural living history museum.

PPS relies heavily on volunteers. Local volunteers turn out in large numbers to help with community events held at the settlement. There are five FHU campsites for full-time workampers. In addition, workampers have use of a laundry facility and access to the internet through the settlement's wi-fi network. While not officially acknowledged, there is a lot of cooking and free eating that includes the workampers.

Volunteers help with Pioneer Day


FHU Campsite for WorKampers


Here is a cross section of the current workamper population at PPS. One couple has been workamping for over 15 years. They came here frequently in years past and now have pretty much settled down to permanent full-time. A second couple is here for the winter (Sept. to May). This is their third workamping experience. We are here for two months (Sept.-Oct.) between other commitments. Another couple is scheduled to arrive in December and stay the winter. People with varied backgrounds and from all walks of life make this a very interesting experience.

Workamper duties vary. PPS asks for ten hours per week per person and workampers are expected to participate in setup, conduct, and cleanup involved with the community events held at the settlement. Beyond that they operate a "job jar" system -- "if you see something that needs to be done and it interests you, do it".

Some tasks are regular, routine, and continuing such as storekeeper, tour guide, and grounds maintenance. Speaking of continuing, if you enjoy painting, you can consider PPS to be heaven. There is no end to things and structures that need to be painted. Other tasks come from an ever changing list of one time repairs and improvements.

This is what we did with our two month stay at PPS. Bob assisted in grounds maintenance, trash collection and disposition, and facility setup for events. He completed the restoration of two hand plows which are used as farm implement exhibits here at the Settlement and in travelling displays. For his big task, he selected the stripping and refinishing of the floor in one of the exhibit rooms. This task is a prerequisite to being able to display the collections of 19th century wood tools and railroad tools.

Restored Hand Plow


Michelle served as shopkeeper in the country store/gift shop, conducted visitor tours, and assisted in facility setup for events. She chose to perform the semi-annual house cleaning of the 19th century cabins and all of the artifacts therein. During this task she discovered a container of partially completed quilt squares (circa 1900) in one of the cabins. An accomplished quilter, she undertook the task of completing a quilt, using these squares, to be displayed at the Settlement as representing this period in American history.

General Store and Gift Shop


The finished quilt
made from quilt squares found in the Sexton Cabin


We enjoyed "taking a walk back in time" in this unusual workamping experience.

Learn more about The Panhandle Pioneer Settlement here
See Workamping Opportunities at PPS here

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