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Author Topic: Volunteering VS Workamping  (Read 1958 times)


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Volunteering VS Workamping
« on: January 14, 2018, 12:03:24 PM »
I really do not consider myself an expert on the subject, but I would like to express my opinion based on 6 years of fulltiming and 10 different positions.

The workamping we have done (by workamping, I mean working at a private camp ground) has required more hours than volunteering (by volunteering, I mean working at a public camp ground run by a government entity. ) The managers at private camp grounds rarely expressed appreciation and seemed to think of workampers as a cost of doing business. They required more hours work, even for a gravel site with no extras in a park that I would have passed up if I had to pay to stay there.

Volunteering has been much better, with fewer hours worked, wonderful supervisors, and some of the prettiest camp sites I have seen.

We have spent two summers at Steamboat Lake State Park in Colorado and two winters at City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico. Both have been wonderful places to volunteer and we feel that we are contributing to the betterment of the parks. We are told often that we are part of the backbone of the park and without volunteers, it would be impossible to provide  the same level of service.

We are fortunate in that we do not have to depend on making money on the road, but volunteering does allow us to stay in an area for free. That does eliminate a main expense, camp site costs.

I do not mean to disparage anyone who wants or needs to work for money and travel full time, but we have found volunteering to be a much more pleasant experience.

Now, I want everyone to disagree with me and not try to volunteer. That leaves more open for me. 

Jim And Darlene Wright
Full-timing with
Ryder, half poodle-- half garbage disposal
All in a
2007 Montana Mountaineer
2002 F250 Super duty 7.3 liter


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Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2018, 12:45:29 PM »
As I look at workamper offerings, I'm beginning to see a trend (for private campgrounds) of more hours requred for less in return. In one recent case they required 30 hours per week per person for a couple for the site, then offered a "stipend" for hours worked over the minimum (and based on the description it sounded fairly certain the extra hours were mandatory). When I ran the math the "free" FHU site worked out to be worth $5/hr, and on the "stipend" it worked out to a little over $6/hr. I can't recall which state this was in, but I'm sure it was below minimum wage in most or all states. Guessing that if the Department of Labor had a look at some of these agreements they would be illegal. You can only stretch "volunteering" so far, at some point you are employed.

Like halfwright, I'm not disparaging anyone who wants to workamp (I'm doing it right now), but I'm sensing that there are private campgrounds out there that are seeing a growing population that can can be taken advantage of.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 01:28:31 PM by Sun2Retire »
2014 Montana High Country 343RL (37')
2011 F-250 SD LB 4x4, 6.2 Gas, 10K gross
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2018, 01:00:27 PM »
Depends on where you do your workamping.  We were always paid decently, at the very least state minimum and usually more,  and had FHU sites that were at least OK and in one case downright luxurious. But then, I declined job offers that had low pay, vaguely defined responsibilities, or were not upfront about the site to be provided.  Yes, we got some offers from campgrounds that seemed more like being serfs than workers, but did not accept them.  You surely do want to calculate the value of the site, hourly pay, and any perqs before accepting, just as you would with any job, and decide if it is worthwhile for you.

We met some of our best friends as workampers and are friendly with them yet, 12-15 years later.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 01:02:59 PM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL


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Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 07:41:20 PM »
We are on our second year of fulltiming. Have volunteered in two different Fl State Parks, Both good experiences. One is better. More grateful and accommodating. The other, not so much. Ask a lot of questions. Always ask about sewer hook-ups. Some do not have them. A deal breaker for us. Make sure the hours worked are clearly defined.
Have met and worked with some great people.
John and Shirl


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  • Phormer Phantom Phixer
Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 06:01:57 AM »
We'll be  entering our 3rd year on the road in May. 
At the beginning of the 1st year, I interviewed for a volunteer host position at Yosemite, but before they got back to me, we were offered(and accepted)a paid host position at the Grand Canyon(north rim). 
Last year, we went back for our second year at the Canyon, and during the year we were offered a spot in the company's Area Manager training program.
We were supposed to go back to the Canyon this year to be trained by the area managers that recommended us, but just got a call from the home office the other day offering us a manager position in California.

Wasn't really looking for a second career when we started this gig, but compared to all the years I spent working on people's cars, it's not really what I'd call "work".  Most all the people I deal with are on vacation, so they're a lot happier than the customers I used to deal with.  The work is cleaning campsites and bathrooms, with a little paperwork thrown in, so it's not really physically demanding(compared to changing engines or transmissions, say).  But the best thing is, look at the places I get to work!  The company I work for handles a lot of Forest Service campgrounds, TVA campgrounds, and state park campgrounds.  Haven't seen one yet that wasn't nicer than the dealerships I used to work at.
Wally Crow
Retired 30+ year ASE Master Auto Tech
Y2K Bounder 36S F53
'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
FMCA F494768

"Well, my time of not taking you seriously is coming to a middle."


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  • Bill & Jolene/USA 99 Country Coach Magna
Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2018, 08:39:24 PM »
We are finishing up our 10th summer at Yellowstone, this will be it.  I have also worked here 7 winters.  Now it isn't completely work camping, we were given a nice apartment.  Started out as work camping, min wage and subsidized cost of FHU. plus electricity, since I have been here wages have risen (first year to over $10/ hr and a bigger subsidy with free elec.  I ended up taking a perm position, (well not any more, I resigned) (1 week left!)

Our seasons for seasonal usually start early May and end 1st of Oct.  Some 2nd year folks have opportunity to start early or end late, (Mid April, to 1st week of Nov)   We have had folks come back year after year, some only stay a year and their plan is to work a season in multiple parks.  Some we don't ask back,.  (the stories!) 

We also worked for Grand Canyon south rim,  did that for one winter, in the RV!  It got cold, but not too bad.

Have not yet worked for a camp host, clean up, office the job. 

We are off to new adventures, some work camp, some travel.  Do your due diligence!  there are some good ones out there.
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Retired from Old Faithful, Old Guy at Hardware Store
1999 Country Coach Magna 40'
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (sold)
1997 Southwind 35' (promised)
2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara.
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60


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Re: Volunteering VS Workamping
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2018, 12:32:12 PM »
WE did camp ground hosting for several years and had some great experiences.  Our hosting jobs included St. Croix NTL Scenic Riverway at Trego, WI,  Prince William Forest Park (Part of NTL Park system near Wash D.C)., Turkey Run State Park, Indiana, Markum Park (Miami area) Caloosahatche Park at Ft. Myers, and a Nature Conservancy at Nogales AZ. 

We were treated well and never had any problems.
George Drake