At Your Service: May 26, 2010

‘Tis the season. Not the one we usually associate with that phrase, but the one that makes the year for most of our local businesses. Tourism is our largest industry and allows all of us to take on a few part-time jobs – those would be the ones we don’t get paid for but that are critical to the area’s success.
Visitors have been coming to the Catskills for their summer vacations for over a century and we continue to offer a wide assortment of recreations. The stunning beauty of the region continues to provide a backdrop for camping, hiking and biking trips. Especially since more and more activity related events are being organized, like last weekend’s bike tour. Job number one is filled by those whose creativity generates the many exciting things to do around the region.
Almost all of the activities that fill our summers and make this such a fun place to spend time are manned by volunteers. The fairs, festivals and other cultural events are dependent upon the generous donation of time from those who live here. Don’t think for a minute that what you do isn’t important or appreciated; in fact, it makes all the difference.
The visitor experience is further supported by the many local tour guides – that would be you and me. Those who are the first contact to those planning a visit, whether on the telephone at a B & B or a tourism information desk, are positioned to present people with myriad activity options. The rest of us fill in the gaps, directing people over the next hill, where they will find (just beyond the beautiful view) something else fun to do in our spectacular region.
You may think that you want to keep them in your village, but that is being short-sighted. They may enjoy their first visit; but unless they see many more things to do, that first visit could be their last. When we provide many options, by telling them about activities across the region, our village becomes a natural home base for future adventures. The more interesting things visitors find to do, the more they will anticipate a return trip.
The most critical volunteer jobs are those related to emergency services. Whether it is our fire squads or other EMTs, volunteers make them work. This would be a good time (with the emergency intense winter season behind us and summer still ahead) to thank these people for all they do. Not only do they, literally, take care of us, they are also the organizers of many of the events I was talking about before. These jobs have them wearing many hats.
When you are looking around the next fun event you are attending and want to congratulate the people are that are running it, look for your neighbor. The chances are good that the person who made it happen is someone you know, on occasion the person you meet in the morning mirror.
There are many things that make this a great place to visit. Nothing is more critical than we the people. We get the added benefit of getting to live here.