Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
If you spend most or all of your time traveling in your RV, then you will most likely want to earn a few extra bucks to support your travel costs at one time or another.
One of the best ways to do this is to be a work-camper. When you pull into a campground, most of the people you will deal with while there are work-campers who are working themselves around the country.
Camping Is a Seasonal Lifestyle
You should already know that regardless of where you may be in America, camping is seasonal. All campgrounds will have a peak season as well as an off-season, and the management of any campground must have enough skilled staff to keep everything in the campground functioning year-round.
In the winter season, campers want to go to the southern climates for their vacations, often just to get away from the cold, while in summer, the campgrounds located in the north will be the ones filled with campers.
During the winter months, many northern campgrounds have such low demand for their campsites that they just close down during these colder months of the year.
On the other hand, the southern campgrounds will be crowded in the winter, but during the hotter summer months, most of their potential customers will be traveling to the northern campgrounds with their milder climates, but some will remain.
A campground in Florida with hundreds of campsites will often have to turn people away during the winter because they are fully booked, but during the summer months, they may be half full.
This wide variation in customers' preferences forces many campgrounds to utilize temporary work-campers to support their limited full-time campground staff during the increases in workload during the peak seasons.
A Work-Camper Works
So, if you are serious about being a work-camper, you will have to be available for this kind of seasonal work. But you need to know that there are a lot of people just like you who want to supplement their camping and travel costs by being a work-camper.
This level of competition for these jobs is so high that you really need skills that will match the campground's needs during these peak periods of the year.
Also, in all states, work-campers are part-time workers; their compensation is regulated by each state, and typically it is a low hourly wage. Being temporary, you will often be restricted to a 20-22 hour work-week.
The management of campgrounds know that most full-time campers are retirees and young couples, and because of this they can usually count on having two adult workers available in one camper.
This way they can place one of you in the office as a check-in clerk, or as a cleaning person, while they can offer the other one of you a job helping the maintenance personnel repair things or maybe just do the simple landscape work.
Campgrounds love hiring couples because then they only tie up one campsite and they get two workers.
A new work-camper be on the bottom of the ladder as far as assigned work hours and the choice of jobs.
A check-in clerk might also sweep and mop the office and other floors and they may even be called on to help the people who clean the cabins and bathrooms including the toilets. Often their jobs will include doing the campground laundry.
You will need to get over what you did in your previous life; you might have once been a small business owner, or even a corporate CEO, but as a work-camper without any defined campground skills, you will be using a shovel, a broom, a mop, or a lawnmower more often than you might desire.
Important Skills and Certifications
Campground managements often need people with certain real skills and offer these skilled work-campers higher wages, longer hours and longer stays in their campgrounds. But again, they want you to have previous experience as a skilled Work-Camper, and for most openings, they want special certifications.
Here are some examples of the most valuable skills that campgrounds look for;
Check-In Clerks: Campgrounds in America are often parts of large resort chains, but even ones owned by individuals will use standardized software packages for their site reservation management as well as other business costs. If your Work-Camper resume shows that you have experience with their software systems, then you will have a leg up on others who don't.
Plumbers: If you have a background as a plumber, or even better, if you have certifications in plumbing, then you will often be a valuable resource for almost any campground to hire.
Electricians: Electricians who have certain certifications, along with previous experience in campground electrical work, can often get hired ahead of unskilled applicants.
Pool Technicians: Pretty much all campgrounds will have at least one swimming pool for their customers to use. Because of the potential for bacterial infections and other health problems, all states require that such public pools are checked regularly and the chemicals and equipment used for a pool be managed by a technician with certain certifications.
For the Unskilled
If you do not already have these specific skills or certifications, then you are competing with a long list of campers who would all love to be work-campers.
Accept the facts of work-camping life: you are going to be the assistant to the one with the skills and certifications, and you will be the one who performs the more labor-intensive tasks.
This means that you had best be in good health and willing to be physical, and ready to perform common labor tasks each day, such as digging with a shovel, planting landscaping, operating the commercial laundry equipment, cleaning up spills, spreading gravel where needed, hauling garbage to dumpsters, cleaning up any mess customers might make, painting, minor repairs, moving furniture, mowing grass and on and on.
In other words, the plumber, electrician, pool tech, and even the maintenance manager will be the one telling you what physical jobs to perform, and they will often just be handing you the shovel or broom while they move on to whatever it is they need to do.
So, yes, you can become an occasional work-camper and make a few bucks, but until you acquire the right skills, it will be hard to get a work-camper job whenever and wherever you might want.
But remember, campgrounds will always want people with experience and skills that they can put to work immediately and then let go at the end of the peak season.
That’s what a traveling work-camper has to work with; planning their travels to coincide with the seasonal workload at campgrounds and submitting applications for work at campgrounds as much as a year ahead of time.
How to Look for Work Camping Jobs
There are several ways to find a job as a work-camper, and probably the one that works best is the one-on-one meeting with the campground manager. I have gotten offers from managers at campgrounds I was staying at, and also from campground managers at RV shows.
The good thing about these contacts is that you can sell yourself directly to a campground manager, and usually when you call them a few weeks later, they will remember you. This is a lot better than a resume that arrives in the mail from a total stranger.
Sites With Job Listings
A number of reputable websites have job listings; some offer help with your search, and some will add a short version of your resume to their website.
I know several fellow campers who used the following sites to find their first job with a campground, and they recommend them to "newbie" campers who want to work in campgrounds.
The site Workcamper is probably the largest and most well-known. They are a membership company. Their advertisement is a little optimistic, and you may still find it hard to get a good job offer at your preferred campgrounds.
They do provide resume writing instructions and open job listings, and they will even add your resume to their listings. It seems to be a reasonably priced club to join.
Workcampingjobs.com: Another popular site that has been recommended to me, but it just seems to list campgrounds that may or may not have any openings at the time.
Happyvagabonds: An interesting site that provides data on a number of campgrounds that have job openings. It doesn't have any kind of campground rating system, but the sites are listed by state, which is handy.
Searching for Yourself
If you are a member of any RV camping club, such as GoodSam or Passport America, you can go through their listings of thousands of member campgrounds and make up your own call list and then call directly to check for potential work camping openings.
You can expect to get many rejections before you eventually find a campground that is willing to take a chance on using you, and many of these will not be making very good offers as far as salary and campsite costs or discounts, but the persistent hunter just might find that beautiful campground with that great part-time job.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Don Bobbitt