Monday, November 29, 2010

Visit to Barnwell State Park, South Carolina. Part Four: Interview with Park Manager Eddy Richburg

Click here for the first post in this series and table of contents.

er 01Barnwell State Park certainly is a beautiful chunk of South Carolina’s Barnwell County. But for Park visitors it’s much more than that. It’s also a collection of CCC-designed and built facilities. From its lakes, to its picnic shelters, to its playgrounds, to its charming park office and flanking bath houses.

But most important, I think, is its friendly, helpful, and welcoming staff. I’ve been able to meet each of the full-time staff members. And found them all as described above: friendly, helpful, and welcoming. You may recall how two of them, well after dark, came by to help me set up the Aliner on site # 15. Without being asked. They just showed up and helped! Only one example.

We all know that this doesn’t just happen. Especially in not-for-profit organizations. Personnel at any institution, large or small, take their behavioral cues from the individual in charge. In this case, the Park Manager.

er 02Therefore, having met the rest of the staff, Park Manager Eddy Richburg’s winning personality came as no surprise. Mr. Richburg is a delight to meet.

He’s well known throughout the Park Service. Several Park System interview subjects over the past year have advised me that Barnwell’s Eddy Richburg would do a great interview.

Well, that’s just how it worked out. I hope his friendly, helpful, welcoming approach to Park and personnel management comes through in this program.

ClickToListenWe began, as usual, with a question about Mr. Richburg’s background. It’s a great story. Mr. Richburg was born in Columbia, but raised in North, South Carolina. “Out in the country,” as he put it. There, he spent much of his time out-of-doors. Fortunately, his parents were campers. They often took Eddy as a youngster to camp at South Carolina’s state parks. In sum, an ideal background for a career in the Park Service. For any career, as far as that goes!

er 03We then turned to Mr. Richburg’s Park System service. Be sure to click on the “listen-to” button below to hear him describe that career. Eddy found his first Park Service job at the age of nineteen at Santee State Park. You may recall our visit there in March of this year. [Click on the link above for a refresher.]

ClickToListenThe only job available at Santee was part-time, in the tackle shop. But Mr. Richburg, even at 19, saw it as the beginning of a Park Service career. There he worked for Park Manager Phil Gaines, now the director of the whole Park System, which made for a good start.

After Santee, Mr. Richburg worked at Aiken, Huntington Beach, Hickory Knob, Lake Warren, Sesquicentennial, and Table Rock, before achieving his current Park Manager position at Barnwell a little over a year ago.

Listening to Mr. Richburg describe these very different Parks gives us an excellent introduction to the South Carolina Park System as a whole. From ocean to mountains to Sandhills to Low Country. You mustn’t miss it.

ClickToListenMr. Richburg was most eager to talk about his Park. So we moved to that topic next. I asked him to give a general description of the Park. Without hesitation he replied, “beautiful and quiet.” And that really sums it up. He then elaborated on the “beautiful” part.

woods 01I’ve been puzzled by the appearance of the wooded areas of this Park since arriving on Friday. Mr. Richburg explained that this is one of the few areas in the Low Country or Sandhills area where hardwoods dominate. Rather than the pine forest we usually find. There are pine trees here. But they tend to be very large, mature trees. It makes a difference that’s very noticeable during a walk along the nature trail. Or as one looks out the RV windows while parked in the campground.

sign 01I asked about the frequent sign posts providing names for trees and shrubs. These, Mr. Richburg said, were done by local Boy Scout troops, and groups of students from local schools. A tangible indication of the excellent relationship the Park maintains with its surrounding community. Mr. Richburg is blessed with the sort of personality that makes such interaction possible. He’s a “people person,” in the best sense of that phrase.

ClickToListenWell. “Beautiful and quiet.” Does that mean there’s really nothing to do here? Not a bit of it. Beginning with camping facilities. Mr. Richburg notes the availability of 50-amp electrical service and sewer hookups on eight of the RV campsites: 18-25. Those of you familiar with State Park RV sites will realize how rare that is.

er 04But visiting Barnwell isn’t like going on vacation. The Park, according to Mr. Richburg, has “more of a home feel” than commercial vacation spots. The convenience and interests of the visitors comes first here. Boat rentals are a good example. Many folks visit this Park just for the opportunity to fish for those aforementioned lunkers in the lakes. Well, the Park allows overnight visitors to rent one of their boats for the whole stay, making it available day and night. Not every Park does that.

er 05At Mr. Richburg’s insistence, we did our interview in one of the five “rondette” cabins the park has for rent. These are beautiful facilities with all of the amenities. Even including 37-inch flat-screen television sets hooked up for satellite reception. He said, “You can sit inside and watch HBO, if you want to,” though he doesn’t recommend it.

Looking at the cabin’s amenities, I was surprised to hear the cost of cabin rental here: $148, all inclusive, for two weekend nights. That’s the year-round price. I mean! What a bargain. Were I not so attached to my Aliner, I’d give it a try.

ClickToListenTime was running short by now. Mr. Richburg was kind enough to come by for the interview on his day off. And I’d promised him it would take less than an hour. As usual, we were over time. But I had to ask a bit more about the campground. And then about the fishing.

Big FishNow, fishing is one of Mr. Richburg’s three passions. The other two, as he told us, are service as a park ranger and hunting. So, I thought he might be a good source of information about fishing these small lakes. Listen to his description. He knows what he’s talking about. He fishes here himself all the time. Six to ten pound bass? Oh my.

er 06Thanks again to Park Manager Eddy Richburg for his generous contribution of time – personal time! – and expertise. Listening to his description, I’m ready to return to Barnwell State Park at the earliest possible opportunity.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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