KOA Work Campers

Discussion in 'General Community Discussions' started by Banditoman60, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. Banditoman60

    Banditoman60
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    we've stayed at quite a few KOA campgrounds this past Summer. we re-entered the caping scene after a 20 year hiatus and now have a 31' Class Minnie-Winnie Winnebago. I've talked to some KOA work campers and it has piqued my interest as a way to be in a certain area for an extended time for free or low cost. some of them told us they were working in the northeast and transferred down to Florida or Arizona for the winter. sounds like a plan to me. we would like to experience all the big National Parks out west without hurrying and it'd be great to have a central location(s) to explore them without going broke paying $45-60 a night for a campground.

    I am not afraid of maintenance work, not afraid to get my hands dirty and I'll clean the toilets if that's part of the job. wife said she would not mind working in the office/store. one work camper told us he worked 4 days on and 4 days off. his days off was his free time and it coincided with his wife's time off and they were free to roam wherever they wanted those days without being called in. he said he did swap says off occasionally

    Just curious if there are any here who are work campers (doesn't have to be KOA) or have done so in the past and what was some of your experiences with it good or bad

    thanks in advance and Happy Thanksgiving to all the good campers out there :)
     
  2. Tallboy

    Tallboy
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    Never was able to get a job at a KOA. Have friends who have, but not us. Been workamping for twelve years. Except the last four summers have just traveled, just working in the winter. (six months) Best thing to do is get a written agreement on duties and what you are getting. In terms of FHU site, cable TV, internet, free propane, food, shows, etc.. If you are working so many hours for your site then a paycheck or if you are getting paid for every hour worked. When you are expected to show up and when you are done with your job for the season.

    Bad experiences. One campground the owners weren't very trusting. The other the manager would change her mind on things a lot on what we had to do. Got old fast. We thought about leaving early on both places, but stuck it out.

    All the other campground owners/managers were excellent. The campground we now go back to every winter season we like enough I think it will be our home for a while.
     
  3. docj

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    We don't workamp but we have volunteered twice--once at a Washington State Park and once at a National Park Service Historic Site. No, but we didn't get paid for these stints but we did get a full hookup site for free in both cases. If what you're primarily looking for is to save on daily site costs then volunteering should be considered an option

    From our experience the best place to find federal and some state volunteering opportunities is at https://www.volunteer.gov/ Agencies from all over the country post their volunteer needs there and provide contact information as well as duties, hours per week, etc, along with info on RV site availability,etc. You can call or email the individuals listed as contacts and ask questions and/or apply for positions.

    From our experience, the number of hours per week you work in a volunteer position is highly dependent on the local site manager. Washington State wanted something like 28 hours per person per week (if you were a couple), but that was easy since we both typically worked at the visitor center at the same time. IMO some sites ask for too much of your time and we wouldn't bother to apply there. Nor did we want any positions that required maintenance or cleaning. Nothing wrong with those, but that's not what we were looking for.

    Most agencies prefer that volunteers spend at least ~2 months at their site, to minimize training requirements, and some prefer that you stay an entire season. Some have large cadres of volunteers from previous years and can be very selective about who they accept. It all depends on the site and its location.

    Joel (AKA docj)
     
  4. RLM

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    I no longer do the work camping thing after 8 years of it, but there are lots of opportunities. I never WK'd at a commercial CG so I will echo docj's recommendation to check out volunteer.gov. But be aware that many are federal parks where you may not be in close proximity to tourist attractions. I personally prefer the peace and quiet of being in the woods rather than crowded tourist venues.

    If you are going to be a Camp Host then know that you will need to develop an effective method for dealing with campers who don't want to follow the rules. Tactfully but very firm. If you don't have that skill set, you might not be happy doing the job. If you're the only camp host, you will occasionally have some inconsiderate person knocking on your door before or after your work hours and no "off-duty" sign will prevent it. Having said this, 99% of campers are very nice people. It's the 1% that makes the job a bit harder, at times.

    Regarding the required hours, anymore than 30 between a couple and you have a job, not a recreational pastime. Whatever the hourly mandate, do more and better than expected and you'll most certainly be asked to return. You will have a reference that can put you ahead of the competition for the next different opportunity. After you have 2-3 of those excellent references under your belt, you can then start off the interview conversation with "We don't do bathrooms." :)
     
  5. docj

    docj
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    If you do choose to go the volunteer route, I suggest you very carefully read the "job descriptions" posted on volunteer.gov. The one we did for the Park Service consisted of running the visitor center at the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia. We selected it because it wasn't a "camp host" position. We both enjoy learning about history and historical sites and had a great couple of months. The young park rangers we worked for were a fun and personable group. I know we spent more than the required hours on the job, but we enjoyed what we were doing. But that's just us; someone else might not have enjoyed the gig.
     
  6. Texasrvers

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    I'm not sure if it was actually "work camping" but my in-laws worked at a different national park (mostly in the west) each summer from 1997 through 2001. Usually they were at the gift shop or the grocery store which were run by a concessionaire. They were willing and able to work the whole season (usually April through October) so they were in demand more than the people who could only work June, July, and/or August. They always indicated they did not want cleaning or maintenance jobs (because of their age) and that was never a problem. I know they worked about 20 hours a week each and could coordinate their schedules to be off at the same time to sight-see. They also had an RV site at each park in an employees area, but I am not sure about the financial arrangements of it or their salary. They had a great time and would have done it longer if their health had allowed.
     
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  7. docj

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    At the larger national parks that are run by concessionaires the majority of the summer positions are employees of the concessionaire. I suggest exploring such opportunities carefully, we had friends who quit midway through a stint at Yellowstone working for Xanterra because it was sort of like being an indentured servant, not an employee.
     
  8. Texasrvers

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    The in-laws were at Yellowstone one summer, and I think the concessionaire back then was Aramark. I don't know if Aramark was the concessionaire at the other parks they were at, but I don't recall that they had any problems.
     
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  9. Banditoman60

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    thanks for the input all. this is something I just started giving thought to and may give it a try for a year or two to see if it fits our needs of staying in a place far away from home where we haven't been before for an extended period of time at reduced cost. I've only talked to the KOA workampers so far. I don't know if they are the creme dela creme of work camping but they all seemed pretty happy with what they are doing so I will probably start with KOA and go from there. I know there are many other options available including volunteer work and I'll try for whatever I can get to start to see how we like it. thanks again for the input and Happy Thanksgiving
     

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