Are you considering a camp host position? Have you workamped in the past? Have you wondered what do I need to know to camp host? There are a lot of benefits to camp hosting. If you are looking for a way to augment your income on the road, this may be the perfect fit for you. Let’s talk about camp hosting, review some tips to help you navigate the application process and tips to make your camp hosting job a huge success.
What is Camp Hosting
Camp hosting, park hosting, and workamping are all terms used to describe working while living in your RV. They all include any activity that involves the exchange of labor hours for anything of value. It could be a paycheck, or it could be a free hookup site. Usually, the term camp host is used for private campgrounds, and the term park host is used at national and state parks.
The term workamping was created and patented by Workamper News in 1987. Here is their definition of the term:
“Workcampers are adventuresome individuals, couples, and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines any kind of part-time or full-time work with camping. If you work as an employee, operate a business, or donate your time as a volunteer, and you sleep in an RV, you are a workamper”
What do Camp Hosts do
The responsibilities of a camp host vary from park to park and location to location. Some of the duties may include:
- Greet guests
- Take reservations
- Check-in guests
- Light maintenance
- Trash pickup
- Clean campsites
- Guide campers to their site
- Provide information about the park (state/national)
- Provide information about the area including local activities, restaurants, and RV services
- Clean facilities including bathhouses, laundry rooms, party rooms
- Trail Cleanup
- Answer questions from campers
- Office work
- Work in the park store
- And so much more
Our 1st Time Camp Hosting
Our first camp host position was at Fort Sam Houston, which is a military base in San Antonio, Texas. Check out our job requirements and what we thought about camp hosting.
Pros of Camp Hosting
There are many advantages to working as a camp host. Some may be obvious such as a free site but there can be many other benefits to accepting a job as a camp host that you may not have thought about. They may include:
- Meeting people from all over the world
- Making new friends and building relationships with coworkers and campers
- Working with and learning from park guides
- Getting a behind the scenes look at national and state parks
- Participate in wildlife conservation such as sea turtles
- Staying in locations you could not otherwise afford
- Free use of rental items such as boats and kayaks
- Free laundry facilities
- Free meals
- Reduction of overall expenses such as fuel
Cons of Camp Hosting
There are cons to every situation including camp hosting. Here are a few items to consider:
- You may have to say goodbye to great friends at the end of your stay
- Money saved on your site may not be enough to cover your bills
- You may not get along with management
- You may not get along with other camp hosts
- Not all campers are HAPPY CAMPERS
- People get drunk and fights can happen
- The job may require more work than you agreed on
- It may require more physical labor than you are able to handle
- Poor communication from the management team
- You may not be able to get away from work when you live in the middle of your work environment
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Before You Apply
There are many considerations to think about before you apply for that first job. Here are just a few things to think about first.
1. How long do you want to stay in one location?
If you have trouble sitting still for a few weeks, accepting a 12-month job might not be the best fit for you. Find the time frame that works best for you and your RV lifestyle. Positions range from 1 month to 12 months, so it is easy to find your perfect fit.
2. What is your ideal location?
If you hate the heat, a job in the Florida Keys in August may not be your ideal job. Also, consider if the job is in a city or out in the boonies. What will you do on your time off? Are there activities in the park or the surrounding area? Choose your location based on your preferences.
3. What are your abilities?
Think about your current physical abilities and what you would be willing and able to tackle. Can you easily navigate a computer? Are you good at maintenance, such as light electrical or minor repairs? Do you love pushing a lawnmower or enjoy yard work? Make a list of your abilities and skillsets as well any jobs you would like to avoid.
Camp Host Job Search
Now that you know what job you are looking for, it is time to begin the search. There are many websites with available camp host positions all over the country. You can choose from National parks, state parks, and private campgrounds and everything in between. Here are some places to start your search:
- Workers on Wheels
- USDA Forest Service
- Workamper News
- Volunteer Opportunities at National Parks and Public Land
- Workamping Jobs
- Become a Camp Host
- Recreation Resource Management (State parks and National Forests)
- These are just a few. Be sure to check websites of state parks as well.
Watch for scams. Yes, they are everywhere. Be aware of websites asking for personal information such as your social security number. Also, you should never have to pay to apply for a camp host position.
What you need to know Before Saying Yes
It is important to know what you are getting into before you accept a camp host position. Here are a few questions that may help you decide if the position is right for you.
- How many hours per week are required per person/couple?
- How many days per week are required?
- Is there a set schedule or rotating schedule?
- What is the division of labor? How many other couples/people are hosting?
- What is the job description?
- Is this considered a volunteer position or will you send a 1099?
- Is computer knowledge required?
- What are the camp host duties?
- Is a uniform required? Name tag, polo shirt, t-shirt?
- Where are the camp host sites located?
- Will full hookups be provided?
- Does the park have Wifi?
- Does the park have a cell signal?
- Are pets allowed?
- Any other perks provided to the hosts such as free kayak rentals, free meals, discount at the park store, free washer and dryer, special tours
We recommend getting everything in writing. If you are not given a contract with duties and expectations listed use email to get everything on paper. After the interview send a followup email that includes all the details that were discussed. You can use something like ‘just to confirm’ or ‘It is my understanding after our conversation that….” This will prevent misunderstandings. It can also be used in the future if the expectations change.
Tips to Land the perfect Camp Host Job
1. Apply Early
The best positions fill very early! If you are hoping for that dream position at Yellowstone or The Grand Canyon, apply at least a year out. These positions usually have a waiting list. Also, once people get in, they typically return year after year, so it can be hard to get your foot in the door. But don’t give up. Keep applying!
2. Be Flexible
You may not get your first choice or even your second choice, but don’t get discouraged. There is a job out there for you, so keep looking.
3. Apply to a Lot of Places
The more jobs you apply for, the higher your chance of landing a job you will love. Don’t be afraid to turn a job down to accept the perfect fit.
4. Use Your Previous Job Experience to Land a Job
Even if you have never worked as a camp host before, it doesn’t mean you are not qualified. What skills did your previous jobs require? Skills such as customer service, organization, problem-solving, computer skills, construction, electrical skills, landscaping, and gardening skills are all sought after by campgrounds.
After Landing the Job
1. Prepare to be Friendly
As a park host, you will meet people from all over the globe. Be prepared to put on your best smile to assist campers and answer a lot of questions.
2. Have a Positive Attitude
It is important for you to have a positive attitude. You will be working in a customer service position, and not everyone you meet will be as friendly. Some campers may be downright rude (we will chalk it up to a long, stressful drive), but luckily this isn’t common.
3. Remember it is a Job
Even though you are not earning a paycheck, park hosting is still a job. Be professional. Do your best work. Show up on time. Be kind and courteous.
When It All Goes Wrong
Unfortunately, not all camp host positions are what they advertise. You can find plenty of stories online that talk about negative experiences as camp hosts. If you arrive at a location and it was not what you expected:
- Be professional
- Discuss the issues with your supervisor
- If you can’t work out your differences, you do not have to stay
- If it is a situation in which you feel unsafe do not hesitate to leave.
Our 2nd Camp Host Gig
We recently completed our second camp host gig in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Check out our job requirements and if we will camp host in the future.
Please share your camp host experiences in the comments. The more positive and negative stories we share, the better prepared our community will be when they accept a position.
Author: Stacy Farley, You, Me & the RV, All Rights Reserved