Claytor Lake Ambassadors seeking new members

The Claytor Lake State Park Ambassadors group is looking for new members.

The Ambassadors is a non-profit, volunteer group that does a variety of things to improve the park and assist in its operation.

According to park manager Chris Doss, most of Virginia’s state parks have something like a “friends” organization – or CSO’s (Community Support Organization).

Insurance Center of Dublin 10 4 copy“Most people call them ‘friends’ groups,” said Doss. “Here we’ve got FOCL (Friends of Claytor Lake) – a well-established volunteer group. So, the CSO for the state park debated on what to call themselves and came up with Ambassadors, which is what they are – ambassadors for the park.”

Doss explained the Ambassadors is made up of stakeholders in the park.

One of those stakeholders is Eddie Quesenberry.

“The Ambassadors work hand-in-hand with the state park,” Quesenberry said.

“We’re trying to get more volunteers to join the Ambassadors,” Quesenberry added. “It’s free to join and the more members we have the better.”

Currently, there are about two dozen members of the group.

Quesenberry said the Ambassadors do anything they can to help the state park. Anything from spreading mulch to picking up trash.

“Anything like that helps out the state park,” he said.

Quesenberry explained that a lot of money that comes into Claytor Lake State Park, unfortunately, doesn’t stay with the park.

“A lot of it goes to a general fund in the state government and then gets distributed out to the budgets of each state park. A lot of people think that every time they come into the park the money stays right here. Unfortunately, it does not.

“So, we started the Ambassadors and began doing things like holding events and such to try and raise money because anything we raise does stay here – it doesn’t have to go to the state’s general fund,” Quesenberry said.

As the group raises funds it undertakes projects. So far, Quesenberry said, the Ambassadors have installed a special kind of mulch in two playgrounds in the park, constructed an ADA-compliant fishing platform at the marina and obtained two message boards within the park to display event schedules and such.

A long-term goal of the group is to construct an amphitheater.

“That’s a big goal,” Quesenberry said.

Doss said he appreciates the group, too, for being a good springboard to bounce ideas off of.

“If something’s coming up in the park, we’ll run it by them. It’s always good for a manager to have people like that,” he said.

The Ambassadors, Doss added, have been a “great support group for the park for several years now.”

“They’ve done a lot of neat things that the park staff wouldn’t normally have time to do, and at times the park doesn’t have the funds to do. We’ll present ideas to them and get their input and they may choose to fund some of them,” Doss added.

He noted that members of the group have different skills sets that come in handy.

“As a group they work together and use their skills,” Doss said. “We have one lady who is a botanist who does things with plants, wildflower walks and such. Judy Ison joined the group a few years ago and she does everything on the annual beach festival, which is done under the Ambassadors group. Members include business owners, engineers, architects and others. The group uses all different types of skill sets.”

As for Quesenberry, he works in apartment maintenance and does a lot of carpentry work as a member of the group.

“Right now, we have a trailer ordered and when it comes, we’ll put the wood on it and frame it up,” said Quesenberry.

“It will be a mobile stage that we can move all around the park,” Doss added, noting the Ambassadors also support the music events in the park.

“The Ambassadors are a great asset to the park for sure,” he stated.

Quesenberry said anyone who volunteers at Claytor Lake State Park can accumulate their hours of volunteering and use them toward getting free t-shirts, a jacket and parking passes.

“You can even save up enough to get a free night of camping or a cabin rental,” Quesenberry added.

“It’s a good incentive to volunteer,” he said. “It’s nice to come out here anyway. Come out and help cleanup or whatever. We always come out after any event and help pick up trash.

“But in order to join the Ambassadors, you don’t have to come out and do certain things like clean up trash. We just ask that when you can, it would be nice to have some help. This coming weekend we’re having Halloween events – a haunted house and trail – and for things like that you need volunteers. You’re not obligated to do anything. If you have time, we’d appreciate it. If you don’t have time, you may have an idea.”

Information on joining the Ambassadors group can be found on their Facebook page at Claytor Lake State Park Ambassadors.