Patos Island Docent Program

Patos Lighthouse Docent Program is a Shining Success! What do a teenager and her mom visiting from Dubai, two teachers, a tax accountant, a librarian, court reporter, a medical writer, a Ham Radio operator, a botanist, zoologist, an architect, and a 5th grader all have in common? They are all Keepers of the Patos Light Lighthouse Docents!Our Patos lighthouse docent program started off with great anticipation in a July of 2010 overnight campout and two Lighthouse open days. We continued the docent camp-outs to cover about every other weekend through Labor Day. At the end of our first summer, we counted up the number of visitors that we welcomed into the Lighthouse. Amazingly, that number amounted to 224

For our second year, 2011, we managed to open the lighthouse for 20 days, July through September, resulting in visits from 665 people. That’s an average of 33 visitors per day! It’s a case of “If you open, they will come”! Pretty good for a small, out of the way, hard to get to, island and very gratifying for our Docents, too

So what do our Docents do? First of all, of course, they open the lighthouse to the public and show people around. That is always a thrill for visitors as many of them have visited Patos Island for years but have never been inside the lighthouse.

Docents tell visitors about the history of the island and lighthouse using our collection of photographs taken on Patos island in various decades. In addition, we often find that, in some cases, visitors know more about the history of Patos than we do. If this is the case, we record the information they have to give. It’s always a thrill to add to our knowledge of the island’s past.

To answer any questions visitors may have about the flora and fauna on the island, we have a small lighthouse library of nature guides for the area.

Docents reach the island either on their own boats or are transported by our wonderful partners, the rangers of Washington State Parks. Docents camp out on Patos for their stay and some tents and equipment can be provided by Keepers of the Patos Light. There is no water or electricity available on the island.

Training for our Docents consists of a session or two of information sharing followed by a volunteer day out on Patos Island. All volunteers are required to be up-to-date on first aid and CPR. In addition, volunteers must read Helene Glidden’s wonderful book about Patos Island, The Light on the Island. More visitors want to visit the lighthouse because of this book than for any other single reason.

For more information on Docenting at the Patos Island Lighthouse, please email us at: patoslightkeepers@hotmail.com

More Volunteering Opportunities!

Does being a docent not appeal to you? Would you prefer to get “down and dirty”? Well, we have something for you, too. KOPL has day trip work parties throughout the spring/summer season, as well as our Working Holiday, a week long work party with camping on the island included. Work can vary, including beach clean up, trail maintenance, camp site clean up, and removal of invasive plants, like the ubiquitous Himalayan Blackberry. Our volunteer’s efforts in the ongoing battle with blackberry has resulted in a beautiful springtime display of camas, reportedly the best in the San Juans!

As with the Docent Program, you must be a member of Keepers of the Patos Light to participate in a work party. Dates for work parties will be posted, as soon as determined, on our new Facebook page and on the Events Calendar. If you need more information, please email us at Evans.sandy@frontier.com