EPDM Coatings
rvupgradestore.com Composet Products Custom Yacht Interiors

Author Topic: KOA Work Camping questions  (Read 11145 times)

Sunliner

  • ---
  • Posts: 8
KOA Work Camping questions
« on: April 14, 2013, 06:14:03 PM »
Anyone have any experience work camping with KOA's ?

Also,  I was on the KOA website earlier and it seems that they want people to pay $ 35 a year to get their name on hiring pool. I have absolutely no experience with Work Camping, is this common and would it be worth while?
Sunliner
2013 Montana Mountianeer
2009 GMC 2500 HD Durmax

halfwright

  • ---
  • Posts: 1197
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 06:25:57 PM »
I can not speak from first hand experience, since I have never worked for them. But, the people I have talked to that have say the corporate owned campgrounds are not a pleasant place to work. They tend to demand more than should be expected. The environment at the individually owned franchises  is hit and miss, depending on the owners of the franchise. Personally, as long as there are other opportunities available, I will not work for them. As always, this opinion is worth what you paid for it.
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

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 60980
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 06:48:38 PM »
We workamped for several years and I agree completely with halfwright.  There are probably some KOA franchises that are good places to work - I know of one family-owned operation in PA that would be great if they hired outside the family and friends (they don't) - but too many are just money mills.

As for a workamper sign-up fee, many people find positions through workamper.com, which is independent of any chain. There is a subscription fee, but it is modest and well worth the price. And I can understand why KOA would have a fee to manage their own pool or workampers, if for no other reason to eliminate curiosity seekers who won't actually show up when offered a job (it happens all too often).

To my way of thinking, it is important for you to interact with the prospective employer and discuss exactly what is expected of you, i.e. your compensation, hours, days off, specific duties, obligations, etc. There is no standard workamper job or contract, no standard set of chores, and no standard compensation. If you don't ask a lot of questions, you will probably be unhappy.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

karlandlois

  • Guest
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 07:07:41 AM »
we are employed presently with KOA.  You are correct about family and friends. This is our first season and after we got the campground up and running our work load has become easier. The hours are decent, couples always have same days off and it is a great way to meet other full time Rvers and learn about their experiences work camping at other parks. We learned a lot about COE (volunteers & paid workers)  It is friendly and we are looking forward to our first summer, making extra cash and having fun.  This is the first time we have worked at a KOA. We have been here since May 1.  We are comitted to the season, but could leave if we wanted to. There is not a contract from either side.  :-\  So far, so good.

karlandlois

  • Guest
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2013, 06:37:39 AM »
We workamped for several years and I agree completely with halfwright.  There are probably some KOA franchises that are good places to work - I know of one family-owned operation in PA that would be great if they hired outside the family and friends (they don't) - but too many are just money mills.

As for a workamper sign-up fee, many people find positions through workamper.com, which is independent of any chain. There is a subscription fee, but it is modest and well worth the price. And I can understand why KOA would have a fee to manage their own pool or workampers, if for no other reason to eliminate curiosity seekers who won't actually show up when offered a job (it happens all too often).

To my way of thinking, it is important for you to interact with the prospective employer and discuss exactly what is expected of you, i.e. your compensation, hours, days off, specific duties, obligations, etc. There is no standard workamper job or contract, no standard set of chores, and no standard compensation. If you don't ask a lot of questions, you will probably be unhappy.
We are 2 months into our job comittment and what you have stated above is all true.  I now have 5 bosses, (ahem) #1 bosses child, # 2. bosses old friends; #3 bosses office staff.  I finally had to talk with the new managers and tell them, how difficult it is having so many bosses, whose ulterior motives are actually getting out of work. It worked for a couple of days, then back to business as usual.  So after we worked as a team and got the place up and running, cleaned inside and out, the rules changed. I work an early shift, husband works afternoons. Which is okay with both of us.  All the fun stuff, waterslide, serving ice cream, movies, popcorn, tubing, canoeing are reserved for family and friends.  the usual undercurrent of animosity amongst the work campers is running high. The owners are interested in making money and pleasing their family. Workcampers can be replaced .  This is our last season her, if we last and our last time at a KOA.    Also, we did not have to buy a value card to work here. We do not want one as we would never camp in a KOA if they were half off.  Half off would mean half of $50, which is $25 and we can park at a COE for $10. I read my previous post of how wonderful it was and what a great summer I was looking forward to, but as with KOA tradition their true colors are showing after the campground got up and running..   It has rained every weekend since we have been here. Strange.

Staff edit: Fix missing end quote tag
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 07:39:37 AM by Ned »

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 60980
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2013, 09:44:22 AM »
Few KOAs are owned by the KOA Corporation, so you are working for a small, locally owned business that has a franchise agreement with KOA, which provides them some services in exchange for a share of the revenue. Your duties, compensation and working environment are set by the campground owners, not KOA, so make your deal with them rather than expecting a uniform set of rules for all KOAs.

Workampers are replaceable, and only occasionally return for a second season anyway, so the campground typically doesn't invest much in cultivating them. For them it's cheap labor, largely paid for "in kind" (the site), with no benefits and no off-season pay.

That said, it is possible to find campgrounds that are friendly and treat their workampers decently. However, you still have to realize that they are in-charge and will do things their way, not yours, and you will likely have to toe the line on some things you may not agree with.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

karlandlois

  • Guest
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2013, 08:05:54 PM »
You are correct about working and toeing the line. We could just use our back up plan,   which is back it up and hook it up, but we made a commitment and that is what integrity is all about. The proverbial hand shake of your word.  It is stressful and I try to stay out of the politics of everything going on around me. It is a very entertaining KOA. It is like an amusement park/campground setting. I believe what my problem is, I am a fair person, and I know fair is not in a lot of vocabulary today, but I still believe in being fair and forthright. I am thankful for the very decent young students he has hired, those who come from hard working families and work very well along side of me. I look forward to those days. Uhmmmm, lets see, July and August and we're out of here. Never to apply at another KOA. Lesson learned. Thank you so much for your input, insight and sharing your opinion. I appreciate all of it. Lois

docj

  • ---
  • Posts: 1166
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2013, 09:30:23 PM »
I'm sorry that your workamping experience hasn't been a particularly good one, but at the risk of turning this into a typical KOA-bashing thread, IMHO you are using a very broad brush when you extrapolate from your experiences at this one KOA and condemn all of them both for workamping purposes or as places to stay.  We've stayed at plenty of KOA's, some have been very good, some only fair, like campgrounds in general.  Sure, they are usually at the higher end of the price range, but IMHO your comparison of staying at a KOA vs a COE CG is like comparing apples and oranges.  When I stayed at the KOA in West Chester PA to be near my family, I wasn't happy paying ~$60/night but there weren't any alternatives and hotels were a lot more expensive.  It would have been great if there had been a nearby COE lake, but there aren't many of those close to big cities, particularly in the east.  When I want to stay in a particular place I look for the closest, reasonably well-rated CG.  If that turns out to be a KOA, that's the price I pay for convenience. 

Workamping is like any other job you take in life.  Sometimes you work for and with nice people and sometimes you don't.  The nice thing about workamping is that there are plenty of opportunities and we all live in homes on wheels.  If you don't treat us right, we'll simply roll right out of there.  You are to be commended for honoring your commitment to the CG; personally, if a workamping situation, volunteer or paid, turned out as badly for me as you have described it to be, I'd be out of there in a flash.  The nice thing about being retired is that I'm not trying to make a career out of anything I do and I'm not expecting to create a resume from my positions.  If you don't think highly of me because I didn't honor my commitment, I honestly don't care. That's JMO, FWIW.
Sandie & Joel

2000 40' Beaver Patriot Thunder Princeton--425 HP/1550 ft-lbs CAT C-12
2014 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L with ReadyBrute tow bar/braking system
WiFiRanger Ambassador/RVParkReviews administrator
Follow our adventures on Facebook at www.facebook.com/weisstravels.net

DearMissMermaid

  • ---
  • Posts: 2146
  • Read my mis-adventures at DearMissMermaid.Com
    • DearMissMermaid.Com
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2013, 09:51:46 PM »
I've been workamping off and on for over 3 years but quite frankly I avoid KOA. I almost signed up for two difference situations, but then I went over their website and they had a surcharge for every little thing and a super long mega list of rules and regulations.  All I could think was I would be dealing with a lot of unhappy campers, so I ducked out and am I ever glad I did. Another KOA said they would be putting the workampers in a special spot and that my RV would be blocked in!  Well duh, I drive my Class C as my personal vehicle and I don't want to be blocked in anywhere at all.

Oh wait there was a third one I talked to once, they wanted me to work in exchange for camping, but I had to pay them cash for electric too.

I've been blessed to have avoided KOA and found good spots for me. Only one I hated and left by mutual agreement, but everywhere else I have enjoyed the situation.

I now only look for places where my dog can generally work with me too. He doesn't like being left home alone and he loves the outdoors and people and other dogs, so he has ridden the garbage truck with me, gone on my rounds, and the season I had restroom duty, he sat tethered outside all quiet like, waiting for me to finish cleaning. When we ran a hunt checkin station, he went to work with me there too. Where we workamp now, they call him the little bark ranger and he does all my rounds and work with me. It's a win win situation for us.

There are many free places you can sign up and look at situations.

This newsletter is completely free and has numerous situations posted weekly.

http://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com/

Also
http://Volunteer.gov

http://Coolworks.Com

http://www.cradleofforestry.com/site/cradle-of-forestry-volunteering/

Many state park websites have a link to their volunteer workamping. Gerogia has their timeline on all their parks, so you can pick and choose your dates and locations.
http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 60980
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2013, 10:51:17 AM »
I think there is a broad gray area of work where I might not choose to do it ever again, but it's not so stressful that I would consider walking out. I'm big on commitment too, and I will normally live up to mine even if the other guy does not. If I don't, I feel I'm no better than he is! But if it was causing me stress, a talk with the employer would be in order about either a change in working conditions or change of assigned talks. And if the employer responded with "my way or the highway", then I would feel absolved of my commitment.

But as I said earlier, most of these problems can be avoided by asking a lot of questions up front. We've worked with a couple of workampers who have quit and feel their issues were solely that they simply had no idea what they were getting in to. One lady stressed out because she had to work in the office to sign in campers and collect money and she was literally afraid to do so. That was a fundamental part of the job and well described ahead of time, yet they took the job anyway. Another quit because they did not get bonuses (nobody did) or free laundry and didn't like the work. Their work assignment was changed three times and still grumbled daily (all the rest of us got tired of listening), so the owner finally said "I can't make you happy, so feel free to leave" and they did.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Bob Buchanan

  • ---
  • Posts: 3039
    • RV Space Manager reservation SW <c>
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2013, 12:05:11 PM »
    Working in a KOA is most likely no different than working in any other RV park in my experience - unless the park is owned by KOA. Most are franchised so how good the assignment turns out would be more a function of who your bosses were vs. whether it's a KOA or not. Some folks know how to manager other folks and some haven't a clue.

The differences in a KOA and other parks in terms of what kind of work would be involved would be with KOA requirements of the park owners. Most parks when looking for help are looking for couples - one for the office side and the other to be do maintenance. Ideally, they want the office person to be computer literate and the maintenance person to be able to ride a back hoe and know a lot about electricity. And, of course, all personnel must wear yellow shirts w/KOA patches. KOA provides all signage used by the park - but the owner must buy the uniforms and name tags from KOA.

KOA requires that all franchisees use the KOA on line reservation system software. The reason for this is that all the parks are tied together so reservations in one can be made quickly at another. Keep the customer going from one KOA park to the next during a journey. And also, KOA fees to franchises is 10% of every dollar that comes over the counter. So the software and the cash register are tied together - with every receipt being recorded in their central computer system - which in turn computes KOA's monthly bill to the franchise.

So if the office person, that will be a must most likely. And the software is really old. They keep promising to update it, but that hasn't happened as far as I know. Remember in a DOS program there were function key buttons along the bottom of the screen -- and no graphics or mouse usage? That's the KOA reservation system. It is also a cloud program so dependant upon whatever Wi-Fi is available in the park.

On the maintenance side, there will most likely be more cabins and more stuff for kids in a KOA. Other than that, it's the typical cleaning up after those that stayed the night before - and maintaining the grounds. If something doesn't work - be it electrical, plumbing, or sewer, you would be on call 24/7 in most parks.

I've managed a number of parks on a part time basis to fill in for an owner. One was to manage a park during the transmission from privately owned to KOA franchise. Not much changed other than the pricing went up and they added a ton of game machines for kids - and they were not allowed by KOA to use my reservation SW anymore.  >:(
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
Current Location
My Photo Album
Business Website

DearMissMermaid

  • ---
  • Posts: 2146
  • Read my mis-adventures at DearMissMermaid.Com
    • DearMissMermaid.Com
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2013, 07:50:36 PM »
That are thousands of workamper situations. Not all are in campgrounds. 

Duties vary widely. Some take couples only, some accept singles. Some allow a couple to live there but only one work or allow the other spouse to work elsewhere and not workamp at all. Some are seasonal specific (selling Christmas trees) others are year round.

Many will allow you to sign up for a short term of one or two months. If you are new to workamping, I think it's best to start out with the short term stuff while you feel your way around. Some treat the workampers as slaves handing them the menial dirty jobs.  Others treat them as treasured help.

Some will utilize your skills and backgrounds, others just want a willing body that can scrub bathrooms.

You can choose from a variety of government volunteer situations as well as workamping with the private sector. A few will pay cold hard cash for your efforts.

Amazon is hiring RV elves for the fall and winter. It's a one shot deal for only 3-4 months a year. The work is hard, you get paid and you receive free camping.

Workamping is not a get rich quick scheme.  It is an ends to a means. It can land you in beautiful spots for months at a time that are not otherwise available. For instance the government parks typically have a 14 day max camping, but if you are workamping the limit is much higher or unlimited thus you can end up in a beautiful place for months.

http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

karlandlois

  • Guest
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2013, 05:09:32 PM »
This KOA we are work camping at is a 5 star on beauty, amenities and location.  I have never stayed at a KOA and as a full timer I would never pay beyond what the COE charges while we are on the road to another 5 month stay.  We live in a Resort during the winter months, enjoying all the amenities, golf, trips to Mexico, good food, good entertainment.  Back to the KOA. My issues were regarding  several bosses who want to get out of work. That is not going to work with me.   I had a nice talk with the owners and I  answer to the owners only.  It is our first time and last time working at a KOA.  Camping at a KOA has nothing to do with the nice people who work in the office, or clean the bathrooms, deliver wood and the good PR and paying top dollar for a site does not give anyone the knowledge or data of what is going on with management.   Lois

DearMissMermaid

  • ---
  • Posts: 2146
  • Read my mis-adventures at DearMissMermaid.Com
    • DearMissMermaid.Com
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2013, 05:35:00 PM »
This KOA we are work camping at is a 5 star on beauty, amenities and location.  I have never stayed at a KOA and as a full timer I would never pay beyond what the COE charges while we are on the road to another 5 month stay.  We live in a Resort during the winter months, enjoying all the amenities, golf, trips to Mexico, good food, good entertainment.  Back to the KOA. My issues were regarding  several bosses who want to get out of work. That is not going to work with me.   I had a nice talk with the owners and I  answer to the owners only.  It is our first time and last time working at a KOA.  Camping at a KOA has nothing to do with the nice people who work in the office, or clean the bathrooms, deliver wood and the good PR and paying top dollar for a site does not give anyone the knowledge or data of what is going on with management.   Lois

I personally have  discovered I enjoy the government volunteer workamping situations. I stumbled into one great deal that I have repeated for 6 months per year, 3 years in a row. I've signed up for next year too.

They like me, I like them.

While I would love to shuffle along and see more parts of America, I need the workamping and this is very pleasant all around so I am thankful and keep re-upping.
http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

karlandlois

  • Guest
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2013, 07:50:27 AM »
We did a stint for one summer in a city park. 20 sites right on a river where we had kayaking almost every weekend. We cleaned the bathrooms, took dump fees,site fees and did a few odds and ends.  no big cleaning as it was a city owned park and they were hiring student workers.  They were a delight to talk and visit with. We did this for a site only and had so much fun. On cold rainy nights when renter's would scurry in from the river I always made a gallon of hot chocolate and had  cookies.  Everyone loved it. It was and is a coveted job. We filled in one summer for a couple who the wife had serious surgery and needed to stay in Texas for the summer.
 We like the non-pay jobs, site only just as well as we enjoy the pay jobs.  We are neighbors with a couple who do the COE parks and we are learning the bidding process it takes to get hired.
Another couple work state parks and yet another manages a small cg in Maine. It has been all good meeting some of the other work campers here. Which 2 of the 9 couples are the only ones coming back next season. Seven couples are not coming back and of that number a couple are leaving mid August, short of their commitment.  I am glad my husband has the same work ethics I have or this would not work. Even though I want to leave now, i will be okay end of season for fulfilling my obligation.  I do have workcamper.com, but so far we have been able to secure our own jobs by word of mouth. guess we need to explore more. I am enjoying your input and experiences. Thank you.  Lois

DcCamper

  • Posts: 1
Re: KOA Work Camping questions
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2016, 12:03:17 PM »
Only you can decide, if it's worth the money or not. Everyone has their own criteria of value including campground owners. As with any campground/business there will be good locations and not so good ones. I've dined at several restaurant chain locations and found great ones and not even good ones. 
I owned a campground in NV and had problems with work kamper couples. Usually one was a good worker and the other one not so much and when one wasn't happy, they both left. (one wife was trying to steal money, one husband kept hiding to sleep, husband almost electrocuted himself(said he had lots of experience, NOT), wife drinking on the job, couple of domestic abuse couples, etc. What I started doing was only hiring one half of the couples and helping the other half get a job in town.     
I agree with what Bob Buchanan says about asking a lot of questions and getting the expectations spelled out before hand. I wish I had done that from the start. It took a few experiences to get me to ask more and more questions.
In a couple of years, we will be work kampers ourselves. If possible, only one of us will work at the campground and the other half, a job outside the campground. I will be asking lots of questions before I ever get there and will probably have more, once I'm there.
Unless you can't possibly forgo staying at that specific campground, ask the hard questions, so you don't get in a bad situation. Think about what you want to ask and make a list so you don't forget. Good luck and happy camping,

 

Hosted by Over The Network