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Visitors rely on volunteers
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Thursday, 14 July 2011 00:00

The Camp Verde Visitor Center, in its central downtown Main Street location, is often a “port of entry” for the thousands of visitors who find their way here each year.

The center has done its best to stay open seven days a week, but it’s not cheap, especially in a time when other organizations are having to make cutbacks.

Jan Hafterson, a volunteer at the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, describes Thursday, July 7, the kinds of information and guidance tourists are looking for when they stop into the center. More volunteers are needed to keep the visitor center open more frequently.“We’re kind of like the community 4-1-1,” Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tracie Schimikowsky said. “People come in here all the time not just asking about local attractions but about all other sorts of things.”

The building is owned by the Town of Camp Verde but leased to the chamber for a marginal rate to house the chamber’s main office. The town also contracts the chamber to operate the visitor center out of the building, though the center is a separate entity from the chamber.

The center serves as a point to provide visitors with everything from information about the sites, both historical and natural, in Camp Verde and beyond. It dovetails nicely with the center’s efforts to promote Camp Verde as a base of operations of sorts for visitors who want to explore this entire region of the state.

It can also serve as a point of information for people who may be considering relocating to the area.

The center does pay people to operate the center some days; others, Schimikowsky answers the phones herself.

The center also relies on volunteers to meet and greet visitors, but the center is in desperate need of more volunteer help to ensure visitors have a friendly face to talk to whenever they happen to come to town.

Currently, Schimikowsky said the center only has three volunteers and could use many more.

It’s the perfect job for the right type of person, Schimikowsky said.

Jan Hafterson is one of those types of people. Retired from her work as codirector of the visitor center in Arlington, Va., Hafterson has been volunteering at the visitor center ever since it was a tiny room in the corner of the Camp Verde Historical Society.

The center has since moved into the home that was once known as Custard’s Last Stand, which had a horse on the roof that was often the target of less-than-legal souvenir collectors.

There’s still a horse today, but now it’s in front of the center, a statue dedicated to the spirit of the old cowboys.

Inside, the center has done its best to keep up with technology, offering computer access to the public and free Wi-Fi access to those with their own laptops or Internet-capable devices.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting a lot of people,” Hafterson said. “I’ve met people from all over the world in here.”

Hafterson recently had the opportunity to show off what Camp Verde has to offer to visitors from France, and she’s encountered many others from around the state, nation and globe.

Hafterson points to a wall full of pamphlets about local attractions, adding she always tries to show people what’s available to do here before showing them information on other communities outside the Verde Valley.

The three volunteers can’t work all the time, however, and Schimikowsky said they could use some assistance. It’s perfect work for someone who is retired or otherwise doesn’t need to work, as long as they like to meet people and know something about the community.

For information on becoming a volunteer, call the center at 567-9294.


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