Build a new visitor center and they will come… or so it worked for Tettegouche State Park, whose new center opened in summer 2014. So many came and so many new programming opportunities arose that some of the regular volunteers in the park started to wonder if the park could use a formal Friends Group.
Park staff welcomed the idea and these volunteers hit the ground running. Within the last seven months, they recruited members, crafted a mission, established an interim board of directors, and signed on to be fiscally sponsored as a nonprofit by Parks & Trails Council. They even organized a booth at the annual city of Silver Bay “Bay Days.”
Now, they planning a “Family Work & Fun Day” for Oct. 14 to help spruce up the Historic Tettegouche Camp cabins. They will be cleaning the grounds, stacking wood, chinking walls, and more interspersed with fun interpretive hikes and campfire drinks.
“There’s also a lot of energy around the idea of expanding children’s programming,” says Miller. Many possibilities are being bantered around, such as building a natural playground, providing busses for school children, and starting a junior naturalist club.
The biggest challenge has been balancing the need to focus energy while allowing varied interests to continue to drive the momentum. Over the next year they hope to have planned and completed activities successful enough to repeat and to have a solid membership base to support their work going forward. They already have a good start with a core group of 20-30 volunteers and a couple hundred emails of interested people.