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Rich "Richie" White the unexpected camp host

KVNF's Lisa Young spent an afternoon with Rich "Richie" White, Camp Host at Ward Lake, talking about his busy Friday morning in mid-July at the popular campground on Grand Mesa.

Originally from Florida, Richie says he wasn’t even planning on being a camp host let alone being on Grand Mesa this summer. It seems fate brought the avid motorcyclist to Colorado following an extensive road trip winding through North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and then out West to Sturgis South Dakota.

Resting at 10,000 feet in elevation, campgrounds on Grand Mesa experienced heavy snows during the winter…delaying opening until the July 4th holiday weekend. Richie and his fellow camp hosts scrambled to clear snow, clean restrooms and prepare paperwork for a swarm of eager summer campers.

Lake Ward Campground is ‘first come first serve’ meaning no reservations are required. Just pull in, find a spot and… a smiling Richie… will catch up later to do all the necessary paperwork.

Beyond the day to day work of a camp host, Richie has to warn campers about a nuisance bear in the area, caution kids about climbing on dangerous rocks and find four teen girls who wandered too far from camp. On one memorable occasion, Richie provided encouragement to a recent widow camping with a heavy heart, in memory of her late husband.

As in Richie’s unique story, sometimes the “best plans' ' aren't our plans but rather fate leading us along an unexpected journey to parts unknown to live a simpler life perhaps as a camp host with a motorcycle and a few camp basics. Richie’s campsite is simple but comfortable… with a small nylon tent for storage, a one burner stove top and small gas grill. To keep clean Richie devised a do-it-yourself shower tent using a simple inexpensive pesticide sprayer.

Scattered about his picnic table are the common camp necessities… a battery run lantern, random cooking utensils, a tool box and of course a large can of Repel mosquito spray. Richie claims he says a mosquito carry a off a rabbit over Ward Lake. Sitting in the middle of Richie’s camp table is another “luxury” ….a miniature black remote control Chevy 4x4 pickup.

While it seems a bit out of place, our Florida camp host says it’s been a great source of entertainment. The interesting hobby has allowed him to make friends with similar interests and entertain a group of small Mennonite children. When he comes back next year, Richie hopes to share his remote car hobby with other campers.

There’s still plenty of time to pack up the tent, teardrop, truck camper, pop-up or whatever you camp in and head to Grand Mesa. If you stop in at Ward Lake Campground be sure and tell Richie that Lisa sent you.

Lisa was born in Texas but grew up on a small farm in Olathe, Colorado and considers herself a “Colorado native after six years of age.” Lisa has seven years experience in media, beginning as a News Director for a small radio station on the Eastern Plains. Following her initial radio career, Lisa worked as a staff reporter for The Journal Advocate in Sterling, Colorado and most recently as a staff reporter for the Delta County Independent. Lisa is thrilled to join the award-winning News and Public Affairs team at KVNF.