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Author Topic: Campground Host  (Read 2210 times)

masterwinning

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Campground Host
« on: September 28, 2015, 10:44:17 AM »
Long time lurker, first time poster.

While camping this weekend, the wife mentioned to me maybe next year we campground host at a local state park. My eyes lite up, but first let me back up and give some background. I am a stay at home father, was laid off and we found that me staying at home and not having to pay for childcare really didn't change the budget much. I have two children, 2 years and 7 months. Wife works full time as a nurse, so three twelve hour shifts per week. So she is also home more then at work.

Back to the topic at hand. We were meet by a very nice older couple who were Campground Hosting at the state park, wife ended up asking a lot of questions about what they did and how it all worked after they left. I could see the wheels spinning. She suggested since I was a stay at home father anyways, no need to quit a job, and was very handy, remodeled our camper and can fix just about anything, what did I think about being a Campground Host next summer. Basically her idea is to find a spot at a local state park 30-45 minutes from home, several to choose from, may go up to an hour and then we have a ton to choose from, and the kids and I stay pretty much full time at the campground, and she arraigns her schedule to work 3 in a row then has four days off and joins us at the campground. The kids and I would also come "home" with her from time to time to do laundry and take care of the house.

I am looking for people who have been campground host, we are looking for any and all input on your experience. It would be an Ohio State Park, they require 20 hours per week for the campsite, electric and water is typical from my understanding.  I have emailed the coordinator at Ohio Department of Natural Resources, waiting for a reply. We are close enough that Indiana State Parks are also an option.

I am hoping to use this as a stepping stone to full timing on the road, wife is very leery of taking that step, so this may be a good trial run. She has agreed to do it once the kids are grown and our of the house, but that is 18+ years down the road, I do not want to wait that long. Are we crazy for trying this with young kids?

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2015, 01:03:16 PM »
"Camp host" can cover a multitude of duties, so make sure you ask a lot of questions about what is expected of you. Some are just "meeters & greeters" plus an emergency contact point in the campground. Others may involve cleaning campsites or bathrooms, working in the office or store, etc. Also be aware that the value of the campsite may be considered taxable income by the IRS - you are essentially bartering your labor for a campsite, which has a fixed monetary value. Ask if the campground will issue a 1099 for the value of the site, or if they treat it as a non-taxable accommodation (required by the job).

We worked in campgrounds for 7 years and enjoyed it immensely. Made many friends who are still close to us today. But be prepared for some frustration too, e.g. the occasional annoying camper who knocks at your door at midnight because something is wrong with his RV!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 11:06:55 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
Gary
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Rene T

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 01:52:11 PM »
Who's going to watch the kids while you're at work?
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SeilerBird

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 02:16:07 PM »
It sounds like a great plan. Let me warn you that campground host jobs are highly coveted by RVers so put in applications at as many parks as you can find to increase you chances of getting the job. Personally I would rather get a job at Walmart than cleaning campground toilets and telling drunks to hold down the noise.
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MTPockets

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 09:01:38 PM »
We've been camp hosts at five different State Parks in last four years. We typically do only 1 -  3 months per stay... Very light work and very flexible hours, however, I can't imagine doing this with Children to watch.. Nor would I think it appealing to the Park Manager.  My opinion.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 11:12:32 AM »
Since one of the kids is just 7 months, even the time spent outside talking to a guest camper who has a question or a problem is potentially a issue. And a two year old only a little better (they are mobile mischief!). How could you walk away for even 15-20 minutes, e.g. to show a camper to a site or check out a reported problem?  And if the duties involved chores such as cleaning sites or working in the camp office or gatehouse, what do you do with the kids?

This idea would be a lot more practical if the kids were, say, 6 & 8 years old.
Gary
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masterwinning

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2015, 12:50:53 PM »
Thank you for the replies.

With the kids the thought is to work while my wife is off, she will be at the campground 4 days a week with us. Easy to get in 20+ hours in 4 days of work. She will also be at the campground every evening as well. By next summer we would be looking at 14 months and 2.5 years roughly depending on when we start.  I do appreciate the thought maybe this next year isn't the right time to start for us, and if we do decide to do it, we would try it for say a month, more then likely won't follow through this next year. At this point we are still trying to get all the information we can gather, even if we decide not to do it next year it will help us down the road. Saw the contact from Ohio DNR emailed back, need to look and see what she had to say.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2015, 01:03:39 PM »
You don't necessarily get to choose when you work - it's a not freelance thing. You work when the campground needs you, at whatever tasks they hired you for.  You may be able to make arrangements that suit you, but campgrounds tend to want staff who are flexible. Discuss your needs in detail with the management before agreeing to the job.
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

DearMissMermaid

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2015, 02:34:06 PM »
I workamped off and on for about 4 years, I am now on permanent break until I still stronger.

My thoughts based on my experience:

There are a multitude of workamping jobs with a tremendous variation in duties and schedule. You plan is feasible except for finding the ideal situation in such a limited locale, but keep looking! Sometimes you can find a remote park that needs security work in exchange for rent and utilities. In that case, it becomes a bit easier with kids, because you can take them on your rounds or be outdoors with them a good bit.  I worked security for 2 different parks, it was lonely because I was single, but the hours were flexible and I was able to take my doggy on all my rounds. As a bonus for the park, I also used this walking time to pick up tons of minute litter and visitors actually noticed that the park was pristine after awhile.

Keep in mind that the best workamping situations do often have a load of competition. So you have assess your own personal skills and what you can bring to the table that might put your application well above the others. Some places want to utilize all your skills, others just want to give you any and all hard work that the rangers or employees don't like and this can be some back breaking nasty jobs. I had one of those in a certain state park, it was horrendous. It seemed like I was doing every bit of the nasty and/or heavy duty work so the rangers could relax and do heir favorite thing... drive around in their trucks all day "showing a presence".

It is possible to find a situation in a kid friendly campground where you can do all your duties in the 4 days when you have both parents around. Keep in mind that typically the heaviest work load is on holidays and weekends. If you can travel in person to the various parks and chat up the rangers and volunteer coordinators, that is your best bet. They always favor people they have met or know over anonymous workampers that are merely applying by paper and email.

Good luck and I hope you find something suitable.
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Smith

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2015, 08:11:56 PM »
My wife and I have been campground hosts at a USFS campground in the mountains of Utah for the last 2 summers. We work directly for the Forest Service, not a concessionaire company. We get a few dollars per day, a full hookup site, and 2 days off each week to go home (a 2 ˝ hour drive each way) to pay bills and do laundry. We are expected to work 2 hours per day and can have the rest of the time to ourselves. Two hours per day doesn’t come close to getting the restrooms clean, updating the reservation signs on each of the campsites, answering questions from campers, etc. I can find enough to do there to make each day a full day of work if I choose to. We have 2 sons (10 and 13) who are not very excited about spending 5 days a week camping. They’d rather be home with games, friends, and internet. Juggling the home stuff like my 90-year-old parents, family commitments, the kids’ school year and such can be tough. Arguing with irrational obnoxious drunks, cleaning up messes in the restrooms, and trying to get campers to obey the Forest Service’s rules (not the host’s rules like many think) can be difficult and discouraging at times but we are having fun. Trying to work full-time while taking care of a campground could be difficult, especially with little kids.
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masterwinning

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2015, 11:15:37 AM »
Luckily my wife has great flexibility in her schedule, she makes her own hours with very little rules on when she has to work other then 3 days a week.  Even on the days she will be at work, she would be back to the campground in time for me or her or even both of us to make a "round" placing out reservation markers, picking up trash as we go etc. This is a pipe dream at this point, our stepping stone to trying it out to see if we would want to full time down the road. 

I do have a wide skill set, was a fire fighter paramedic by trade, so I am a jack of all trades master of none due to my previous job. Bought a house and gutted it and remodeled before moving in, did the same thing with a camper.  I have experience with tools both hand and powered, I've worked my fair share of retail, have experience dealing with people sick, drunk and dumb. Was a Boy Scout and have camped since about the age of 3, from RV to Tent to find some sticks and survive for a couple nights.

Our thought process is when the wife isn't working we are at the campground anyways, so why not do some community service type work, very important to our family values, while we are at it, and hey if we get a campsite out of it that is a plus.

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2015, 09:05:35 AM »
Keep looking and applying. Any chance you get to apply IN PERSON by all means do that. Also get some business cards printed up, just the contact info, name, address, phones etc. It helps to hand those out to willing folks.

I think with your combined skill set and optimism, you will indeed find something workable for you. Many government parks have a minimum hours worked (for campsite) but they are always thrilled to have those that will go the extra mile and do extra duties beyond the minimum. I have always done much more than asked of me, even the "slave park" I did extra duties, not that they cared, but I did them anyhow.

Also, your wife may already be familiar with the cross country nurses, the contract ones, where you get a contract, salary, and per diem living expenses. Always possible to find those in temperate climates and also find workamping in that area too.

Good luck and keep us posted on what you find out.

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masterwinning

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2015, 10:30:38 AM »
Keep looking and applying. Any chance you get to apply IN PERSON by all means do that. Also get some business cards printed up, just the contact info, name, address, phones etc. It helps to hand those out to willing folks.

I think with your combined skill set and optimism, you will indeed find something workable for you. Many government parks have a minimum hours worked (for campsite) but they are always thrilled to have those that will go the extra mile and do extra duties beyond the minimum. I have always done much more than asked of me, even the "slave park" I did extra duties, not that they cared, but I did them anyhow.

Also, your wife may already be familiar with the cross country nurses, the contract ones, where you get a contract, salary, and per diem living expenses. Always possible to find those in temperate climates and also find workamping in that area too.

Good luck and keep us posted on what you find out.

Have you done the travel nursing gig? Wife is leery to try it right now, 1 she doesn't know if she wants to full time, being away from her family and 2 she is working towards a management/ supervisor role at her new job and has a lot of potential to move up. Was sat down and given a talking to for not putting in for the last opening. We would like to talk to someone who has done it that is willing to give an impartial view on it, the recruiters make it seem like everyone is dumb for not doing it, but all things should be taken with a grain of salt when money is to be made.

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Re: Campground Host
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2015, 10:34:38 AM »
My father had a small trailer and he did that at a state campground. He loved it. My mom did whatever she did during the day. He basically had a couple of spots he loved and that was it. They did some traveling around the U.S., but mostly he loved those couple of spots.
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