Focus on Volunteering: March 2018

Family Volunteering    

Kevin Sharpen and his son Noah are dedicated volunteers at Pinehurst Lake Park. It’s a home-away-from-home for their family. Every summer for over 15 years, their family trailer is parked at the small spring-fed lake north of Paris, Ontario for the season.

His grandparents have camped at Pinehurst every summer. Memories of the popular park fill his lifetime. Kevin has found many ways to give back and encourage others to engage in park stewardship. Once people are interested in volunteering, they are connected to GRCA Volunteer Coordinator, who helps to match interests and talents with volunteer positions.

“Most people who camp at Pinehurst come to know the staff. Kevin is no exception,” observes Pinehurst Superintendent Brad Straus. “But what sets him apart, is he never takes Pinehurst for granted. He and his family have a passion for this place and really appreciate what it offers. Kevin is unique because he doesn’t just think about why the park is special to him. He wants to share it with others. You can tell that his volunteer involvement is just something that feels right to him without even thinking about it.”

His involvement started gradually, as he encouraged Pinehurst staff to set up geocaches within the park, and he and his son did the same to make it a great place for geocaching.

Then, he initiated a new type of geocache for the park.  Instead of using an app or GPS to find a hidden container, Kevin enlisted help from family and friends to hold Cache in Trash Out (CITO) events at the park each spring just before it opened. At a CITO event, garbage is the find instead of a cache. This type of event is held by geocachers at many locations each year so they can improve the geocaching game board —which just happens to be our planet.

“For my son and I, geocaching is our favourite thing to do. We partnered with the staff at Pinehurst Lake to do CITO, a cleanup event for the past three years,” Sharpen explains.

During that time cleanup participants, including campers, the public and geocachers, have collected so much trash each year that it is becoming a little more difficult to find trash. Even the most concealed garbage is disappearing from the park.

This year on Sunday, April 29, the event is expanding to nearby Wrigley and Bannister Lakes which are also owned by the GRCA and managed by the staff at Pinehurst. People who would like to assist this year can find details and register online at www.grandriver.eventbrite.ca.

Kevin and his son have also hosted an introduction to geocaching activity at Discovery Day, an annual park event that welcomed around 2,000 people each year.

“Pinehurst Lake and surrounding trails are for everyone. Our goal is to create a sense of community among all visitors and Kevin shares this goal. Volunteer cleanups can make a big difference,” explains Straus.

“We know the park well, we’ve made friends here and we love the area. For us it’s giving back to the thing we love most,” Kevin says.

If you are part of a group that would like to hold a volunteer event at a GRCA property, learn about our volunteer program at www.grandriver.ca/volunteer.

To experience the benefits of volunteerism, like Kevin, search the online Volunteer Opportunities Database at https://volunteercambridge.cioc.ca/volunteer/  or call the Volunteer Centre at 519-621-1030, ext. 234.