Practical Advice for RVers Considering Work Camping
By Guest Author: David Carter
While I am by no means an authority on the subject of work camping we have been doing it for many years now. My opinions are from personal experiences and those of other work campers with whom we have become friends along the road of our travels.
We find work camping VERY beneficial for us and the Campground owners. We have made some lasting friendships with the people we have met while we work camped.
As for our benefits we are able to stay in an area we choose to explore extensively at a very reasonable cost or even no expense to us. If there is an area we are interested in, we pick a city or location centrally located so that all we want to explore is just a short drive in our toad. For longer drives we usually book a cheap hotel room and spend a night or two. It's actually cheaper and easier than unhooking and moving our "Tin-can-dominium". Additionally there is no space rent to pay when you leave your RV parked where you work camp. The hotel stays are a nice change too. It can be a romantic get away, especially if you splurge to get a spa tub in the room!
Another advantage of work camping in an area you want to explore is you have the time to leisurely experience the locals and get to know "their way of life and viewpoints". We like to locate the locals favorite diner/eatery, frequent it regularly and within the first week or two develop some valuable friendships.
We have been invited to go fishing, hunting, bowling, horseback riding, to county fairs, museum functions, para-sailing, to their lake cottages, cocktail parties, family BBQs, nature hikes ...you name it. Our list is endless of what we have been invited to do and have done, that only the locals know about.
EVERYONE we have met loves to hear our story and we receive comments that we are enjoying their lifelong dream or they are planning to do this "one day".
After we determine where we want to spend some time, and about 6-10 months in advance, we start out by searching for campgrounds where we would consider work camping. Woodalls directory, web sites like Passport America, Good Sam, etc, any where we can find campground listings. We also contact the state tourism agency and have them send their entire package. You get state information about attractions etc. and camping.
We subscribe to Workamper.com. They have many support services geared just to this lifestyle. We opted for the "Workamper Plus" version because we get daily email listings of the newest positions before they hit the printed Workamper publication that comes out bi-monthly. "Early bird gets the worm" logic works here.
The daily listings of work camper jobs we receive that are in any area we are interested in I code and save for future reference. My thinking here is, if they needed work campers in the past, they'll need them in the future and I will already have the contact names, phone numbers and often the web sites when we need them.
We forward our resume, pictures of ourselves and our rig to the campgrounds we now have on our radar and "POLITELY" follow up.
Then there is the good old word of mouth referrals & references. But this comes after work camping for several years. Just like any position, you have to get your foot in the door and some experience under your belt so the first work camper gigs may not be exactly where you want or what you want to do.
When you zone in on one or two campgrounds, check out their reputations. We have called them and tried to make a difficult reservation to see how they react to this type of customer and how excited they are about the campground. If we think it's a work camper on the phone we ask their opinion of the place and the owners/managers.
Workamper.com has a Rate Your Experience" (RYE) section. I have received emails from fellow work camper about my RYE's I have posted and have been able to communicate candidly with them.
Then there is the work agreement. Be honest about what you are willing to do and not do. Some people WILL NOT clean a bathroom, some won't be stuck behind a desk after being there all their work life.
You will be more attractive to a campground owner the more flexible you can be in what you are willing to do.
We ask for the work camper agreement in writing, if they can't provide one we do not accept a position at their campground.
We also ask where the campground parks their work campers, the hook ups, wifi and any special perks not mentioned in their ad.
Both of us are willing to do what ever needs to be done and prefer the variety which that presents. Our resume does emphasize our strong points, experience and talents.
The campground owner may create a position if they see you have experience doing a task they have wanted to complete but didn't know how to do it.
Most campgrounds will ask for a couple but don't let that stop you if only one person can/will work camp or if you are a solo camper. Usually the campground will allow one person to work the minimum hours for the RV space.
If you have specialized knowledge you can be valuable to a campground owner.
When we were in Corpus Christi for the winter of 2006 there was a work camper couple whose only function was to assist campers with their computer hookup to the campground’s WiFi and teach basic computer classes. Only one person of the couple did this and she also did support and repair work on campers' computers.
They had been doing this for several years at this campground when they 'Winter Texaned' from Canada. They had such a loyal following that some campers would wait until they made it south to winter there to have their computers upgraded or repaired.
Note from Steven & Fran: This article was adapted from a post David made to our RVbasics Yahoo email group. The post was a response to a question from another group member. We appreciate Dave's thoughtful contribution to our group and for permission to use it here on our web site.