Craig and Marjorie Purdy had always enjoyed visiting the James Kipp Recreation Area in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, so when they retired, they readily stepped up to serve as volunteer campground hosts there.
Little did they know what a year 2011 would be for them, especially as relatively new volunteers. In May, heavy rains came to the monument, just as the area’s record-setting snowpack was melting; it was a recipe for disaster. Closely monitoring the Missouri River’s rising waters, the Purdys kept meticulous records of the flow and ensured that BLM managers and monument visitors were informed of conditions. Eventually, authorities ordered an evacuation. The Purdys’ subsequent actions were nothing short of outstanding. They sounded the alarm, prepared the site for closure, and provided constant updates to authorities, helping to ensure a safe, orderly evacuation and campground closure. Temporarily relocated several miles away, the Purdys continued to travel to the bluffs above the damaged campground to monitor conditions.
Meanwhile, more than 100 miles upriver, another BLM campground, Coal Banks Landing, was also in need of assistance. So the Purdys cheerfully packed up for a second time and made the trip. The visitor center contact station at their new “home,” a recently renovated campground, required some finishing touches. Craig, a skilled handyman, built shelving, installed interpretive displays, and maintained the grounds while Marjorie assisted with visitor registration. Thanks to their efforts, the site operated unimpeded during the busy summer boating season.
By midsummer, an unexpected staff shortage at yet another campground led the Purdys to pack up once more to head to the remote Judith Landing Recreation Area. This picturesque campground and take-out site proved to be the icing on the cake for the well-traveled Purdys; they immediately fell in love with their new duty station.
By season’s end, the Purdys had survived a historic flood, relocated three times, and spent countless hours performing myriad duties with tireless dedication. It’s an understatement to say that as BLM volunteers, the Purdys truly “made a difference.”