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Help us keep the lights open while living the dream inside a lighthouse!

Become a Volunteer Lighthouse Keeper

Play a part in preserving local and maritime history while volunteering with friends on Lake Michigan. Our organization offers a variety of opportunities for which members can volunteer for weeklong resident keeping commitments (tour of service), half or full day keeping shifts, seasonal events, and restoration projects.

Volunteer Opportunities

Most volunteer opportunities are available April—October.

Lighthouse Keeping
Our most popular volunteer opportunity; day keeping and resident keeping is offered at all of our lighthouses. Sign-up for a one- or two-week tour and stay overnight in the keeper’s quarters or at a nearby residence in the Ludington State Park or Silver Lake State Park. Or, sign-up for a half or full day shift and spend the day at any of our lighthouses.

Resident keeping at Big Sable Point is a two-week volunteer commitment. Big Sable volunteers reside in the original keeper’s quarters still attached to the iconic black and white striped tower. The site comfortably accommodates six volunteers at one time.

At White River Light Station, resident volunteers stay on-site in the light station for one week. Surrounded by trees and nestled into the channel between White Lake and Lake Michigan, the cozy one-bedroom apartment in the keeper’s quarters lodges up to two volunteers.

Resident volunteers at Ludington N. Breakwater and Little Sable Point are housed at a residence nearby each location in the Ludington State Park or Silver Lake State Park where they can enjoy the natural beauty of West Michigan’s sand dunes and pine forests. Both residences, which once housed state park rangers, accommodate at least four volunteers. It is just a short commute to the lighthouses from each residence.

Pets of any kind are not permitted in any SPLKA residence.

We know that summers are busy for many. Our day keeping program offers flexible volunteer opportunities. If you are local or unable to commit to a one- or two-week tour, day keeping is perfect for those who would like to be involved but may have a limited schedule. We encourage those who live locally to join our day keeping program!

Resident and day keepers are responsible for a variety of tasks including: welcoming guests, historical interpretation, selling tower climb tickets and merchandise in the gift shop, merchandise inventory and stocking, general household cleaning, and grounds work. Every resident volunteer group is provided with an on-site orientation and gift shop training by SPLKA staff at the beginning of their tour.

Event Volunteering
Like day keeping, volunteering for events throughout the season is a great way to get involved without the weeklong commitment. Throughout each season, we host a variety of events such as Bus Days to Big Sable and evening concerts at White River and Little Sable. 

Restoration Projects
With preservation at the core of our work, our restoration efforts are ongoing at each lighthouse. Under the direction of our restoration and maintenance supervisor, volunteers have a direct role in historical preservation with restoration projects like painting, grounds work, cleaning, and more. Those with skills or expertise in any trade are encouraged to volunteer with us for various restoration projects!

Requirements for Volunteering

To volunteer, you must be a member of SPLKA. Please take a look through our membership brochure to find the right membership for you. 

All volunteers must be 18 years of age or older to work in any of our gift shops or stay overnight in our residences. Anyone under the age of 18 can help out with restoration projects, beach clean ups, office projects, and events.

First-time applicants will need to submit the following materials to be considered:

  1. A brief summary of past or current volunteer and work experiences—don’t forget to include any special skills or expertise that you may have!
  2. Two letters of reference from previous employers or supervisors, colleagues, or friends.
  3. A background check; we will send an invitation to complete a background check once your application packet is processed. Please note, all applicants are responsible for any payment required for the background check. If you have recently done a background check elsewhere, please feel free to submit those results with your application.

All resident volunteers are required to submit a Resident Keeper Fee payment in addition to their membership payment. The Resident Keeper Fee is $30 for a single volunteer keeper and $50 for a couple. This helps SPLKA pay for residence insurance and residence necessities such as toilet paper, paper towel, and cleaning supplies. A Resident Keeper Fee payment is only required once per season, even if you volunteer for multiple lighthouses or tours.

Volunteer Assignments

All of our volunteer opportunities are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Each year, applications open in October for the following season and our membership is always the first to know. While it is best to begin or renew an existing membership by or before October, we accept applications year-round. All applications are stamped with the date they are received by SPLKA. Please note, applications submitted without an up-to-date membership, necessary payments, and any additional required materials are considered incomplete.

Volunteer schedules are created beginning in November based on the order in which completed applications are received. Members who submit a volunteer application in the fall can expect to receive their assignments throughout the winter. Members who submit their application packets later may not be guaranteed placement due to the complexity of scheduling and popularity of our lighthouses, but will be placed on a waitlist in case of a cancellation throughout the season.

Application Checklist:

  1. Become a member of SPLKA or renew your existing membership. Please visit our Members page for more information and the membership application and online payment portal.
  2. Complete a volunteer application.
  3. Resident keeper applicants: Make your Resident Keeper Fee payment; you can do this online at the bottom of this page.
  4. First-time applicants only: Submit a summary of your volunteer and work experiences, two letters of reference, and background check results (if applicable) to

Applications can be submitted online or mailed to PO Box 673, Ludington, MI 49431. You can electronically fill and submit your application by clicking the buttons below. Please note, all application materials must be submitted for your application to be processed.

To download and print click here 

2024 Resident Keeper Application

2024 White River Resident Keeper Application

To download and print click here 

2024 Day Keeper Application

2024 White River Day Keeper Application

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