What Is Work Camping?
Work Camping is quickly becoming a popular way for some RV owners to extend their travels and visit more great places by getting temporary jobs at some of the campgrounds themselves, which are scattered around the US.
The jobs at campgrounds are often simple "front desk" jobs or maybe even what they call "low impact" labor jobs in which the Work Camper can perform simple daily maintenance and landscaping work.
Add to this the fact that most Work Campers will even get a break on the cost of their campsite while they are staying there and working for the campground, and a three-month stint of Work Camping can help you put some decent money away.
I would love to travel and see the USA properly, spending three months or so at a time in each area I visit.
— Don Bobbitt
Seasoned Campers and Aging Campers
My wife and I have been RV owners, on and off now for several decades.
Over those years, we have evolved from tent camping when we (and our kids) were young to camping in travel trailers, and eventually, we actually changed over to motorhomes as we got older (and traveled farther).
So obviously, we can say that we are people who have always enjoyed the camping lifestyle. Eventually, though, time takes its toll on everyone’s body in one way or another, and camping becomes something we have to plan for.
My wife and I have been no different from others of our generation in that, physically, some of the tasks a camper performs while on a camping trip just become too hard on your body to allow you to do them properly or safely.
As a result, as we grew older, my wife and I would take shorter trips and stay in less "roughing it" types of campgrounds and instead moved over to using ones with more amenities and luxuries for us to use.
But don’t get me wrong, we have always been active, ardent travelers in our RVs. Both of us happen to be pretty healthy overall, and we are active for our age.
But regardless of how careful we are to eat only the healthiest foods, exercise regularly, and spend hours a month studying the latest recommended ways to keep our bodies healthy, time itself takes its slow but inevitable toll on our bodies.
Here are just a few of the things that have or will inevitably happen to our bodies:
- Our joints, especially the load-bearing knees and hips, as well as our fingers and feet, are going to eventually wear out and even develop arthritic pains.
- Our muscle mass will shrink. In fact, I found out that by the time an adult male reaches 50 years of age, his body will typically have lost as much as 40% of its muscle mass.
- Our organs, such as our kidneys, liver, gall bladder, lungs, heart, and venous system, will begin to function less efficiently.
- Our eyesight will deteriorate, forcing us to use corrective glasses and eventually even go through lens removal surgery because of cataracts.
- Our body’s overall immune system will often fail to protect us from diseases and illnesses that it would once have easily rejected on its own.
My point here is that while my wife and I may be healthy seniors, we also know that our physical capabilities will continue to degrade. But we feel that while we are still relatively active and healthy campers, there are things we still want to try and enjoy.
And one of the things we were always interested in has been the popular concept called Work Camping.
Work Camping: Saving Money as You Travel
My wife and I eventually got around to realizing that we could still travel and camp for a few more years, maybe even stretch out our trips by becoming seasonal Work Campers.
Those thousands of campgrounds you see around the US are kept running by experienced campers who are willing to work at low-impact jobs for the campground owners in exchange for a small salary (usually minimum wage) and a discount on the price of the campsite they will be staying in.
In fact, many campers, especially full-timers, will use a seasonal stay of a few months at one specific campground as an opportunity to not only travel but at the same time save a few bucks for use on their future camping plans.
One truth all campers soon realize is that it’s one thing to travel around the USA in your RV, but the day-to-day costs can build up and drain your savings quickly.
As you continually pay for such things as the fuel to operate your RV, the costs of regular RV servicing, plus those dreaded and unexpected repairs to your RV that can occur at any time, you will generally see your savings shrink much faster than you had expected or planned for.
And the novice camper soon learns that campgrounds across the US have peak seasons and off seasons, and the campsite rental costs during the peak season can easily be two or even three times what it is for the same campsite during the off season.
So, regardless of the size of your savings account, finding a way to make a little extra income is always a good thing.
What Does Work Camping Entail, Anyway?
That’s the first question that comes to mind for anyone who starts to consider when they want to look into Work Camping; What will they make me do?
Well, not to worry. The vast majority of campgrounds utilize Work Campers to perform light-duty tasks that pretty much any adult in good health can do.
The campgrounds will invariably use outside contractors to perform their major work projects for them, and they will save the simpler jobs for their Work Campers.
Typical Work Camper jobs fall into these types of work;
Guards: Guards are used at most campground gates, and they will often tour the campground at night to make sure the campers are safe.
Check-in clerks: Clerks who work in the office to take reservations over the phone and to manage the assignment of campsites to incoming campers,
Interior housekeeping: This includes changing linens in rooms as well as cleaning rooms, restrooms, and the public facilities within the campground,
Landscaping and cleanup: This includes keeping the whole campground clean and all of the shrubbery trimmed properly,
Electrical maintenance: This includes the repair of campsite and campground electrical system problems, when necessary,
Mechanical and plumbing: The repair and maintenance of plumbing and other mechanical systems in campsites and campground systems,
Store clerk/cashier: This is a job in campgrounds that, like so many, have a small store operated for the convenience of the campers,
Entertainment manager: This is the person who plans and runs campground entertainment for the convenience of the campers, including such things as Bingo games, card playing competitions, and pretty much anything that entertains the campers.
So, as you can see, Work Camper jobs, even though they may not pay much money, do provide certain advantages that so many of the campers running around the USA really would like to have at one time or another.
You see, while staying in a campground for several months as a Work Camper, you are able to do so many things that you don’t have time for when hopping from campground to campground every week or two:
- Make a few bucks to bolster their savings accounts.
- Make necessary repairs to their RV in preparation for their next planned travels.
- See local Doctors, get exams, and renew prescriptions when necessary.
- And on their days off, they can just relax and take the time to really learn about and enjoy the great area they are camping in.
Work Campers Have Time
Work Campers take the time to smell the roses!
Work Camping Contractors and Agencies
In fact, Work Camping is so popular, and there are so many campers who are willing to travel this way, that there are several popular national companies that will help campers find campgrounds where they can work.
A couple of the more popular ones are;
- Workampingjobs provides space for campgrounds to place ads for workers and for workers to place ads for work.
- Workampernews provides news and links to sites with potential work camping opportunities.
- CampHost provides a list of campgrounds that hire Work Campers
These are just a few of the sites that will either help you look or even search for that perfect Work Camping job; just make a quick search on the web if you're interested.
These companies will do things for an interested camper, from collecting their resumes of camping and work experiences to working with hundreds of campgrounds who are looking for temporary campground jobs.
The Financials and Advantages of Work Camping
You should also be aware that the financial situation that a Work Camper will encounter:
- Wages are going to be right as the legal minimum wage.
- You will either be listed as a part-time worker or as a seasonal worker.
- There will be no benefits included.
- Your campsite will not be free, but it will be discounted to a comfortable price for the location and season where it is located.
- Your hours will typically be 20 to 22 hours per week for part-time workers and 40 hours per week for the seasonal (or full-time) workers.
- Overtime pay will be very rare.
One great thing for those of us who camp is having bragging rights over a glass of wine with your friends. Imagine being able to tell your friends something like;
"We spent the summer in; the Keys, the Catskills, the big country of Montana, NAPA Valley, Palm Springs, South Texas, or whatever campground that you had stopped and lived in and explored for three to six months in your travels."
The Undesirable Work Camping Scenario
Undesirable campgrounds do exist. These are campgrounds that are poorly managed or just run by inconsiderate people who treat Work Campers badly. They are relatively few, but you should try to avoid such campgrounds for a Work Camper job, and if you end up in such a situation, you should get out as soon as you can.
Here are a few of the signs of a campground that you do not want to work in:
- They will place you and your camper in the worst and smallest of their campsites.
- They will attempt to get you to work longer hours and not pay you overtime for your work.
- They will contact you regularly on your days off to "come in and help out for a few hours."
- They will treat you badly as if you were “slave labor” rather than real human beings; they will often ask you to perform tasks that are very hard and often unsafe.
- They will usually have ongoing problems within the campground that they have no plans to repair.
- And they will often even treat their customers poorly.
But, on the good side, if you do get a job in a nice campground in a desirable area of the country, you will find that you are usually right in the middle of some fantastic sights along with such popular things as; nature trails, mountains, rivers, seashores and other great places that other people just dream about visiting.
Fiesta Key Campground
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.
Questions & Answers
Question: When were you at Fiesta key?
Answer: WE wee at Fiesta Key, On and Off, for most of 2017.
Natalie Frank on March 15, 2017:
Great Hub. I never thought of this! What a great idea. Thanks for writing about it.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 11, 2017:
Work-Camping seems like a brilliant fit for you and your wife in the travel lifestyle you have embraced. "Regardless . . . time itself takes its slow but inevitable toll on us." Work-Camping has its health benefits: time off from travel, some physical movements and medical checkups. Best to you and your wife going forward!