Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Summer Fun

Donna Haarz, tour boat interpretive guide and Ron Roseveare, Captain, getting ready for a ride on the State Park tour boat.


What Was the Best Part of YOUR Summer?

By Donna S. Haarz

Students going back to school after summer vacation are often asked, “What was the best part of your summer?  ”My answer would be, “as the guide on the state park pontoon boat.”

June 6th, I was the guide for the ride that day and it was a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day. As the guide I greeted the passengers and gave a safety talk. I introduced myself and told them I am originally from Michigan and spent my summers at a lake.  But, I don’t live on the lake now, so being a guide on the boat, I get my “lake fix”. As the boat continued on the lake, I talked about the history of the lake, the dam, the water quality of the lake and the lake wildlife. That particular day, the ospreys were very active, to the delight of the passengers.  Of course, I shared that the pontoon boat was purchased through fundraising by the Friends of the Park, the park’s volunteer group, in order to make the lake accessible to more people including school groups.

I enjoyed sharing all this with the passengers and answering their questions, but most of all I liked meeting the passengers. And that day it was an interesting group...

*a mom and 4 kids from Huddleston.  They had never been out on the lake.

*a retired couple from Roanoke.  We laughed that folks from the lake go exploring in Roanoke and here they were exploring the lake

*a retired couple from Massachusetts who had just moved to the lake in April. “How did they find the lake,” I asked.  On the internet of course!

*A couple from Chatham who had recently moved there from Vermont.  They were renting a park cabin to explore their own “backyard”.

*And another retired couple from NW North Carolina, a place they said I would never have heard of.

So the best part of my summer was a beautiful summer morning on the state park pontoon boat, getting my “lake fix”, and meeting interesting people from a variety of places, and sharing all the good things about the lake with them.

What was your best part of the summer?

The pontoon boat ride is free, on Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 AM and continues through September.  Or put it on your “to do” list for next summer.  Make a reservation by calling the park office 540-297-6060, no more than one week before your preferred date, and get your “lake” fix “learning about the lake, and meeting other interesting passengers.