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When Nothing Else Is..

June 10, 2013 | KelLee Warren

I took a step, and my foot sank deep into the gravely sand of the parking lot. Walking to my car after work always seems like a hefty task, when the parking lot is comprised of levels of dirt, rocks, and several inches of loose sand. I struggled my way up to the fourth level where I parked, and quickly rolled down my windows as soon as I got in; the outside temperature read 100 degrees on my dashboard. This was considered a cool day for Lake Powell. I sighed and backed out of my space, and started slowly up the pock-marked drive back to the main road. Pulling up to my dorm building, I shut off my engine and let the song I was listening to finish, while I rested my head on the steering wheel and tried to muster up the energy to head inside and change out of my work uniform.

This is a typical day after work for me, without any sugar coating or bigger story. I work four 10-hour days at the Wahweap Boat Rental Marina as a Boat Rental Agent. By the end of those four days, I'm more than ready for my three days off. The job is mentally taxing and physically tiring (from being on your feet all day, and rushing around with paperwork trying to solve problems, and generally make everyone as happy as possible). Despite this, I enjoy the fast pace and interactions all day long, and I'm glad I got the position. I actually started my post this way for a specific reason- the 40 hour work week is one of the few things here that is consistent and reliable. My dorm-mates and friends are an ever changing dynamic, and I still haven't settled into a routine of things to do each day or week. Things are mostly done out of necessity; like laundry, Walmart runs, and meals. I often miss having my life go as I plan it, and doing the things I'm used to, instead of the limited options of social environments and activities here.

Wahweap Marina from the parking lot.
I don't mean to sound bleak, but I wanted to capture the reality of my transition to seasonal employment, which was a huge shock to my previous lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, my drive from PA to CA, and back to AZ was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt independent, adventurous and alive. Driving the last few miles to Lake Powell, and seeing the lake appear on the horizon, my heart beat faster and welled up with excitement- I had finally made it. I had arrived at my destination for the summer, and suddenly all the months of planning, dreaming, and waiting were over. I was here, and the mystery of what it would be like became a reality.

The reality of it is better than I could imagine, but so different than what I expected. The park is not a typical rocks-and-trees-and-wide-open-spaces kind of national park, where people go to reconnect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. Lake Powell Resorts is more focused towards water-sports and recreation, and usually dropping thousands of dollars in the process. As a Rental Agent, I was blown away by the amount of money that a houseboat vacation can cost. There are plenty of beautiful things to see and great hikes, but the atmosphere is just different here. I struggled to adjust my first few weeks, but now it feels like I have been here much longer. I have made new friends every day and have developed relationships with many of them, and I see the world differently because of them. They stretch me, test me, challenge me, frustrate me, and yet love me, and I love them. I have never experienced such a social situation, where we have nothing in common but living on the employee housing hill-top together. We have Bulgarians, Russians, Turks, Moldavians, Navajos, Filipinos, and of course Americans from every background and religion you could name. Somehow, our differences don't really matter here. Each night there is a gathering outside my dorm building, and sometimes we talk. Sometimes we play music. Sometimes people drink too much. Sometimes new people wander over, and we welcome them with open arms and excitement about getting to know them. Honestly, I never know what is going to happen here. I gave up attempting to fit people and schedules and moments into a box that I can understand. Very few things are reliable, and as I begin to see this, I begin to see why a solid foundation makes such a difference. It's something you don't really notice until you end up in a place where no one knows you, and most people don't believe the way you do. Tending to my relationship with Jesus has become a necessity, not an option. I need that consistency to remind me why I'm here, and to give me hope and purpose as I live each day. I remember that Spencer, the Executive Director of ACMNP, told us at our training how we would get burnt out quickly if we let our prayer time fall to the wayside of the fun and adventure of life in a national park; and he was so right. When nothing else is reliable, Jesus is.

KelLee Warren

"Our daughter...worked in Glacier Park with ACMNP for two summers. The experience was life-changing for her."
– Karen and Bruce

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