Ann Ross: I hope you catch ‘volunteeritis’ | SteamboatToday.com

Ann Ross: I hope you catch ‘volunteeritis’

This disease I have carried since kindergarten. It has kept me happy, spry and giving for many years. I do not take Geritol as my disease is vitalizing.

Volunteers, like me, are generous in their spreading, hoping it’s catching. Willingness is a backbone of a vibrant society. Often volunteers are seniors as money and time are more abundant.  Perhaps even buying their last glorious abode.

My volunteering started some where around age 5, much to my parents’ grave concern. I thought I was being helpful. I was a fortunate child that loved and lived each summer, age 6 months through senior year in high school camping.

My father, a college professor, was paid for the nine months he was able to find a teaching position after the Great Depression. So with no money coming in, we camped in Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Estes Park. I have amazing wonderful story memories told around the huge bonfire and tales overheard as I peeked through the tent flaps.

Camping in the wilderness is buried deep in my body chemistry. I have hiked every peak in the park, many several times with the park rangers or the YMCA camp. We were taught to trail educate and respect.

Often I was the tail ender because I knew the trees, trails and lakes so one would get lost. I loved the snow-capped peaks and the smell of pine after a rainbow rain.

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Moving to Steamboat Springs provided me new territory to investigate. I found a group of hikers and skiers to continue my passion. We hiked trails and did what is now called trail maintenance.

Frank, who often lead the group was well acquainted with the mountains. No lectures we just followed his example. About 1976 an office from Kremmling was moved to Steamboat into the building that houses Brooklyn Pizza next to the old Pilot publishing building.

I found some trail and area maps. Some in the group participated volunteering  in the 1976 Volunteer Conservation Corps and the NAHSTA. Those members added greatly to my knowledge.

I shall never forget the trail repair of Mad Creek after a torrential downpour. Slip, slide and fall on my butt in the red mud. One year, we camped out for a week with concern to repair campsites. During those years I could drink from streams using my collapsible cup. I did not live here year-round but always found a welcome enthusiastic group.

I am so pleased that we have an active senior Friends of Wilderness and a youth group to continue caring for the wilderness. I am sure that new and the old and the graying residents of Steamboat will continue working for a healthy, vibrant, vigorous community for the long term.

I write my story to encourage volunteering and as a reminder of the value and stability factor provided by community seniors.

Ann Ross

Steamboat Springs