Lighthouse association looking for volunteers to live, work at historic towers
1 / 6
The Big Sable Point Light House stands over Lake Michigan's east side in Ludington, Mich., at sunset on Wednesday Aug. 11, 1999. Volunteers are needed to work at the lighthouse this summer. (File photo by Stuart Bauer/The Flint Journal).
LUDINGTON, MI - The Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association is looking for volunteers to operate four of its historic lighthouses.
The Ludington-based association preserves and promotes four lighthouses: Big Sable Point in Ludington State Park, Little Sable Point in Silver Lake State Park, Ludington North Breakwater and the White River Light Station.
The SPLKA needs volunteers to serve one and two week tours at the lighthouses from May until October. Volunteers at Big Sable will live within the lighthouse's quarters, which include four rooms that can accommodate six to eight people. Volunteers at Little Sable and North Breakwater will live within ranger's quarters located in the state parks.
"It's an experience like no other," said Peter Manting, executive director of the SPLKA. "You really meet a great amount of people. You get to share the history and the enthusiasm that people have for maritime history and see the lighthouses like never before."
Volunteers responsibilities include but are not limited to working in the lighthouses' respective gift shops, cleaning and sharing Michigan's maritime history from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
As of 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, about 375 people have committed to a tour at the lighthouses. About 100 spots remain, Manting said.
No wages are given for working at the lighthouses. Volunteers must be 18 years and older and must be able to climb steps. There is also an association fee. Room is included but volunteers supply their own food and bedding. A washer and dryer are available at the sites.
Manting said anyone 18 and older is welcome, although many of the volunteers are retirees, historians and teachers looking for something to do during the summer months. Since the Volunteer Resident Keeper program began in 1996, people from nearly every state have spent time volunteering at the historic lighthouses.
"It's just such a unique experience," Manting said. "We have a lot of people who come through a tour at the towers and say this has always been on their bucket list. It's one of those bucket list things that you never think you would be able to do but you can here in Michigan."