Park Host Ray Still

Each day, our parks open to visitors from all over, each with their own unique needs. Some are visiting for the first time, while others are regulars. To provide more attention in some areas, our parks have the Park Host program. Park Hosts serve as a representative of the Park Service to visitors by providing assistance, information, and assisting the park in a quality customer experience. This month, we are highlighting park host Ray Still at Barnwell State Park, who goes above and beyond the call of park host to ensure our visitors are taken care of. 

Ray is a native of Hilda, South Carolina, and has worked as a Park Host at Barnwell and Little Pee Dee state parks. Park hosts around the state work in a number of capacities, from maintenance and welcome station attendants to retail clerks and program aides. At Barnwell, Ray typically helps maintain the grounds and facilities of the campground and provides assistance and information to guests. He may also help out with trail maintenance and lend a hand with other miscellaneous park projects.

Before retirement, Ray worked in his family’s hardware store and at a metal forming shop. Although now retired, he keeps busy. Aside from hosting in our state parks, Ray enjoys kayaking on the state’s lakes and rivers. He volunteers with DHEC for their Adopt a Stream program, which is an opportunity for citizens to help protect and improve South Carolina’s waterways through monitoring and reporting. Ray helps monitor water quality on the Edisto River, Shaw Creek, and on the Salkehatchie River. He is also a member of the Friends of the Edisto (FRED), and along with the Edisto Riverkeeper, engages in advocacy, stewardship, education and outreach to achieve a healthy and sustainable Edisto River system. Ray says, that it is important to help maintain the health of nature and our waterways so that people beyond our generation will have access to clean streams for both drinking water and recreation:

“It’s very important to maintain the health of nature and the streams. We pick up garbage, and if we find pollution in the water then DHEC will come in and find out what’s going on. It could be something from farmland or it can be something from residential. So, it’s to help keep the streams healthy so that people beyond our generation have healthy streams to fish in or hunt or just a water source. That’s what I like to do.”

Ray says that the work he does with DHEC and FRED tie directly into his motivation to be a park host. “By maintaining a good park, people can enjoy the park for years to come, and that’s the way I like to look at it. Leave it in better shape than you came to…anything an individual can do to make it better, then the younger generation will have a future there.”

One of Ray’s favorite things is to meet the campers that come from all over and share the local heritage. He also enjoys watching the changing seasons at the parks, birding and viewing wildlife. Ray says the parks are quiet and relaxing, and a great place to unplug.

Without people like Ray, we could not possibly provide the customer service experience we hope to in our parks. For some, a Park Host may be the only staff person they interact with during their stay. Ask any park staff and they will tell you how indispensable they are. So next time you are in one of our campgrounds, stop by and say hello. If you are visiting Barnwell or Little Pee Dee, it may just be Ray who greets you!

If you are interested in becoming a camp host one day, please contact the park you are interested in directly, to check for openings!