Paying It Forward at Cowboy Camp Volunteer Day

Equestrian campgrounds are some of the best places for RVers to stay. They’re big, level and full of horse people, who are pretty dang cool if you ask me. So when we needed get a break from California’s crowded RV parks, the BLM Cowboy Camp Volunteer Day in Northern California was a no-brainer.

RV Camping at Cowboy Camp
One of the rare free spots in Northern California.

As a bonus, it happened to be National Public Lands Day too. Each year on the fourth Saturday in September, volunteers help out at different public lands facilities around the country. This year the local BLM office chose to spruce up Cowboy Camp.

National Public Lands Day Clearlake Oaks
Volunteering at Cowboy Camp in Clearlake Oaks

That morning after I returned from my marathon training run, I couldn’t help but join in. Especially when I saw a real live cowboy wrangling the weed whacker.

Cowboy Volunteer on Public Lands Day
Better him than me with that machine.

I figured if he could give up a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the trail, I could do the same. Plus, Cowboy Camp is one of the few free campsites in Northern California. It was the least I could do.

My task was simple. Just help paint the outhouse. The job could have been easier with the right tools, but what do you expect from the perpetually underfunded Bureau of Land Management budget?

Public Lands Day 2019
Someone’s gotta paint the crapper.

Everyone was so nice. They came from as far as two hours away to obliterate the puncture vine taking over the ground, and spruce up the facilities. Just the couple of hours I spent with them reminded me of that community spirit that I miss by not being rooted somewhere.

When it was over, the campground looked so spiffy. And in exchange for just a couple hours of painting, I got a free pass to any national park, and a volunteer t-shirt. I almost felt guilty for taking them, since I really didn’t do much. But the leader insisted.

BLM National Public Lands Day Cowboy Camp
What a great way to feel good about free camping!

If you enjoy camping on public lands as much as we do, mark your 2020 Calendar for Public Lands Awareness Day on September 26. Google it, and I guarantee you’ll find a volunteer project near you.

Leave a Comment