Since we began camp hosting, several people have inquired as to how we landed this idyllic employment opportunity, so this is our guide on becoming a camp host as well as our thoughts on the matter. We are in NO WAY EXPERTS, but we have done the research and successfully landed a job in this field and sharing is caring – so we want to share with you so that you too can find work as you travel!
In order to become a camp host, you have to get hired. In order to get hired, you need to know where to apply – we used CoolWorks.com, but there are several other sites that specialize in, or feature camp hosting jobs: Back Door Jobs, WorKamper (membership fees required), and Work For RVers & Campers.
Seriously, it’s that easy: you go to the website, send in an application with your availability, your skill sets, and location. Then it’s up to the campsites to choose whether or not you fit the bill. Which leads us to:
QUALIFICATIONS, REQUIREMENTS, AND ALL THAT OTHER FUN STUFF
It really helps if you have some kind of background in managerial, military, secretarial, service industry or other people-skills focused industry. In general most sites seek persons who are adept in various skill sets or who have the capacity to learn. If you’re just looking for a job and don’t give a damn about talking to people, resolving conflicts, or being responsible – you need to look elsewhere. Nobody is going to hire you, nor will they keep you employed if they make that initial mistake, if you refuse to follow or enforce the rules, or if you are incapable of being responsible and dependable.
An “unwritten” requirement for camp hosting is you need to be an octogenarian. Seriously. Many campsites seem to seek out the elderly and/or those who are retired. The thinking (I believe) is that these folks have little else to do and don’t mind the constant interaction and low (if existent) pay. After all – they’re retired! However, don’t let this scare you away! We are both 27 and while our age wasn’t to our advantage at first, I was able to turn our young-ness into a qualification. If you seek the information on how I did this, you’ll need to either: a) figure it out yourself -OR- b) buy me a coffee or beer through our donate link.
Some camp sites will need you to be a couple or team. As far as I know they don’t care whether you’re a “traditional” male & female couple, same sex or otherwise as long as you’re both competent humans – hell, it’s 2015, aren’t we past all that? The reason for needing couples is because at some sites (such as ours) the work is split between the couple: at our site Beth is responsible for the paperwork and I’m responsible for cleaning the toilets and handling the majority of the interactions with campers. Not everywhere pays both partners however, which brings up:
HA! If you’re looking to strike it rich you’re better off playing the lotto or venturing about Alaska panning gold. Some sites pay, some don’t. It’s as simple as that. A more detailed version is: some sites will pay hourly (often minimum wage and under 40hrs/wk to negate providing benefits – thanks Obama), others will pay a weekly stipend, and other sites don’t pay anything at all. Rarely you’ll find a site that actually has the nerve to ask that you pay for the site, or that the work you do helps negate the cost. By all means avoid anyone with the gall to advertise such lunacy.
Nearly all sites, as an added incentive (and part of the reason why they pay so poorly) include water, electric, sewer and some ever provide cable/internet/phone, and propane. Make sure to ask before you go and factor in these expenses if they are not part of the deal.
Even though what I’m about to say may not be sanctioned, if your job includes cleaning bathrooms, consider that you can take advantage of the cleaning supplies, toilet paper and paper towels for your own use while you are working. Of course I don’t condone stealing, but if you need a roll of paper towels they are there.
Speaking of cleaning bathrooms is a perfect segue into:
A DAY IN THE LIFE
I can only bestow to you my own experiences as a camp host. Not every place will be the same, and not all camp hosts will agree with what I have to say. So be it.
A typical morning starts around 7AM for us. I go off to check the TP levels in all the bathrooms and gain insight into the fun I’ll soon have. Beth stays in the camper and makes us coffee and breakfast. Around 9AM, after breakfast and my first cup of java, I venture out to clean the mess left in the pit toilets, something which led me to consider writing a separate article on the "Politics of Public Toilets."
Beth begins working on her paperwork – checking the reservation sheets, editing reservation placards, and reservation hang-tags.
From 9AM until noon I get to enjoy myself: I fish, I check my email, I write or hike. At 1PM all the campers need to have left if they don’t have a reservation for the next day, so I wander the campground and clean up if they didn’t do a good job leaving no trace. Whenever I’m finished with cleaning campsites I generally take another break and wait for the new campers to arrive, at which point I check them in. Hey! I’ve been working, hard(ly)! Once the majority of the new campers show up I make my rounds and check them in: I take down their information, receive payment for extra vehicles, read them the rules and regs, and sometimes even receive gifts!
At the “end” of my shift we’re often lounging around reading, drinking a beer or glass of wine, fishing or waiting for the sun to go down. We are on call 24/7, but usually after 4 or 5PM we’re through and rarely are we needed. Any stragglers can be checked in tomorrow, if they look like trouble I’ll swing by and let them know the rules before turning in, but that’s almost never an issue. Overall our life is great here!
I’ve already mentioned above that as a camp host you usually receive the benefits of water, sewer and other amenities provided, depending upon the site. The other perks however are not listed in the employee manual or job description.
Often campers return time and time again – when this happens you build a relationship and are thankful to see their names on the reservations or their vehicle driving down your road. These campers-turned-friends relieve your workday with camaraderie and friendship, becoming folks you can share dinners and good laughs with. Some campers are just flat out kind as strangers – I don’t mean “oh these people are nice,” rather I mean THESE PEOPLE ROCK! I recently found a fly reel in the trash – it was in perfect working order but needed a mild cleaning. Not two days later I ran into a camper spooling a fly rod and reel up and asked him for advice – not only did he give me advice, he gifted me a nearly brand-new fly rod and lessons on how to use my newly acquired fishing system! There are times when I check folks in and as I speak to them they offer me delicious beers (not just PBRs, Coors, or Bud Lights – but great local IPAs, APAs, blondes and browns). I’ve had campers invite Beth and I to dinner and others ask us if we need anything from town when they run errands. These are the moments that make you believe in humanity again. Of course there is always the antithesis of these wonderful people:
Some people just suck. Growing up in the 90’s I remember patches, stickers and keychains with the phrase “mean people suck.” Not only do mean people suck, many others do as well. We have campers who leave a trail behind them at sites; we have your run-of-the-mill litter bugs, clown-car families who think it’s ok to pack 8 vehicles into a space designed for two, the “weekenders” who bring all the comforts of home including the satellite dish, and the folks who leave shit everywhere…literally. Yes – I’ve actually had the pleasure of cleaning up human shit with a shovel, not 20 feet from the pit toilets: apparently these kids thought it was ok to crap on the ground rather than walk to the toilets – they also kept half the camp awake after quiet hours until I came and ruined their parade.
We have people argue with us over a $5.00 fee, screaming at the top of their lungs that they shouldn’t have to pay. We have folks who think public toilets denote a “free for all” on toilet paper and where to place their excrement. Some folks don’t agree with the rules or regulations and attempt to interpret them at their own leisure. Occasionally we have to call in law enforcement, but most of our issues are settled civilly like men. Occasionally there are days where you want to give up on humanity and never speak to another living person again, but this is rare.
Having privacy is laughable; sometimes we’re left alone all day and other times we can’t find a minute to hear ourselves think. Regardless if you’re taking a nap or crap chances are someone will bother you a just the perfect inopportune moment.
There is rain, cold, wind, heat and damn near everything between. Other sites may see more extremes than we do, but regardless of the weather you have a job to do. This isn’t a downside for us (we both pack for any occasion) but for some folks it may be an inconvenience.
In the end we love what we do. Some days we work more than the allotted 6 hours, some days we barely work at all – it all evens out in the end. Friends are made, bad people are crushed, and we go to sleep every night knowing that the next day always has the opportunity for improvement. Through it all we love what we’re doing. It would be nice to make more money, but it’s also great that we never leave sight of our house throughout the day and that we spend the majority of our time outside. Alfredo can ride with us on the golf cart as we do our rounds, we spend the majority of our time outside, and we aren’t bound by a set schedule.
Really it’s the perfect job lacking only sustainable pay. I’d highly recommend anyone with the freedom of choice to work a camp hosting job for at least a season and reap the benefits. Chances are, you won’t regret your time spent as a camp host.
Did we miss something? Do you think we mis-represented the camp hosting experience? Feel free to comment below or send us an email if you have any other questions, comments or concerns.