Truck Camper Magazine readers share volunteer opportunities including repairing national and state park trails, disaster relief, rescuing dogs, building affordable housing, supporting public events, church-led organizations, and more.
Looking for purpose, new friends, and free or low cost camping? Here are some great ideas to volunteer.
This week’s Question of the Week was, “Have you ever volunteered while truck camping?”
“I used my camper to deliver retired racing Greyhounds to northern California from southern California for the group we volunteer at, fastfriends.org.” – Ron Williams, 1997 Ford F250, 2003 Lance 1010
“Habitat for Humanity RV Care-A-Vanners is a great group. I have met wonderful new friends through the volunteer organization.
It’s a two week commitment. They need help with non-carpentry chores like site clean up, restoration help, keeping work tools organized and clean, and fetching things for others. It’s extremely rewarding.
There is a small fee, usually for a campsite. Go to Habitat for Humanity’s website and look for RV Care-A-Vanners.” – Carol Bowman, 2005 Dodge 3500, 2014 Lance 1191
“My husband and I have been volunteering out of our truck camper since 2013. Our entire family currently volunteers with the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol, a division of the National Ski Patrol. Camping allows us to spend more time skiing, volunteering, and spending time with other volunteers and guests of the ski area. The ski area is only about an hour from our house, but we love staying at the ski area, partaking in all of the activities and being available to provide our services to the small non-profit ski area. Our volunteer duties include providing advanced first aid services, information to guests visiting the area and making sure the ski runs are safe for the public to use.
Campsites are available at our ski area, but we choose to leave those for the guests and just park next to the patrol (first aid) building. Because we are winter camping we choose not to have water in our camper, but we do have access to water in the building. We also have electricity and propane.
For a fellow truck camper to get involved with volunteering with the ski patrol please contact your local ski area. Most have volunteer patrols and are more than willing to talk to you about the required training.” – Amy Swiger, 2004 Ford F350, 2010 Arctic Fox 990
“I provide HAM radio support for Ultra Marathons. Most of these take place where there is little to no cell service, so HAM provides the safety for these events.
I use the camper when I’m working a rest stop or acting as net control. Having an antenna up about twelve feet on top of the camper extends the radio range significantly.
While there are other volunteers that use small travel trailers, the truck camper is much easier and faster to deploy. I can usually be operational in five minutes and redeploy if needed in the same amount of time.” – Leonard Pennock, 2006 Ram 3500, 2002 Eagle Cap 950
“I volunteer as a sawyer on the Superior Hiking Trail on the north shore of Lake Superior. We have work weekends in the spring where we clear deadfalls from the trail.
We usually camp out at community centers where trail staff will provide meals for the volunteers. Some camp in tents or sleep in the center. I always get to sleep in my own bed. After a hard day on the trail I will hookup to water and offer outside showers for everyone with hot water from the camper.
I’m also a volunteer board member for the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation. Our annual meetings rotate through the five parks around the lake. My camper is usually my home away from home for these meetings. Camp on!” – Dave Miller, 2015 F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E
“We have now volunteered twice at the same Corp of Engineer Park. We have enjoyed the folks we’ve worked with; campers and rangers.
We had so much fun the first time we volunteered that we all decided to return the next year so we could meet up with each other again. We made new friends and talk to them on a regular basis.
The camp site was provided (FHU) and the laundry was free. I believe my wife found the park through Volunteer.gov.” – Glenn Blount, 2012 Ford F350, 2017 Lance 1172
“Certainly! A quick peek at the New Jersey Beach Buggy Associations website, www.NJBBA.org will show many of the volunteer activities performed.
Our organization donated over 3,000 man hours of cleanup work in the wake of super storm Sandy. We annually take veteran and handicapped groups fishing with lunch served. Annual beach cleanups and dune stabilization projects are also held. The website has all information needed to join the fun.” – Bob Lick, 2003 Dodge 3500, 1993 Alpenlite 11-foot SK
“I used to have a truck camper, and changed to a Born Free motorhome. With that rig I have volunteered with Habitat’s group, RV Care-A-Vanners.
I went on one of the Metro-West/Worcester Habitat for Humanity’s builds in Wayland, Massachusetts for two weeks. We worked eight hours a day Monday through Saturday, with Sundays off. There were three of us with rigs from the Care-A-Vanners who worked alongside Habitat’s construction crew, regular volunteers, and single day volunteers.
Habitat gave us a space right on the property to park our rigs, and provided us with water and electricity via a construction generator.
Here is a photo of two of the rigs parked in front of one of the two duplexes that we were working on. The Born Free is my little rig.
Here is a photo of the other RV Care-A-Vanners and myself in front of one of the duplex units at the end of a day of work.
While I was there, I learned how to cut and install laminate flooring, how to run both a chop saw and a table saw, how to build door casings, how to install bi-fold closet doors, and how to install kitchen cabinets. I also filled nail holes and sanded, painted cellar stairs and tons of doors, and did whatever needed to be done at the time.
Everyone we worked with was so welcoming and patient! We worked with Habitat construction staff, regular volunteers and volunteers who came just for the day from Bank of America, Synopsys, and other companies. And the staff and regulars taught us to use all the tools and how to do our job for each day.
This was such a wonderful way to give back. It warmed my heart to work alongside the families who will be living in these duplexes, and to see their smiles each time they saw the progress that had been made on their future homes. It was a very rewarding two weeks and I am looking forward to doing more builds in the future!” – Cheryl Lane, 2006 BornFree motorhome
“Our volunteerism consists of picking trash in campgrounds and wildlife areas. We are stealth volunteers because few know who picked up all the junk that people leave behind. Our goal is to pick trash in every state; seventeen so far.” – Laurel Wilson, 2013 Ford F350, 2016 Four Wheel Grandby Shell
“I teach for the state of Oregon. I teach once, sometimes twice a year for the Department of Education and stay on site in my truck camper.” – Keith Wright, 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, 2014 Arctic Fox 990
“For free parking and a place to stay for a few days, I have volunteered at the Washington County Fair in Schuylerville, New York. I worked on the motorsports track and ran the scale house which no one wants to do. All competing vehicles and tractors must be weighed in prior to getting onto the track.
At the end of a long day, I was fed by the fair at the Argyle Fire Department. It was an awesome deal!” – George Randall, 2012 Ford F350, 2016 Arctic Fox 865
“En route to the East Texas Piney Woods after my summer long jaunt along the Alcan Highway and points south, I had to stop in San Antonio, Texas on some personal business. While there, I visited Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña and Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo.
The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Mission Concepción was in dire need of some landscaping maintenance and the Saturday vigil mass choir at Mission San Jose needed a cantor. I didn’t make it to the East Texas Piney Woods for the winter but they’ll be there next year. All one needs do is contact the administrative office and offer their services.” – Matt Murdoch, 2012 Chevy 2500 HD, 2016 Northstar Laredo SC
“Volunteering is the reason we bought our first truck camper. Our kids from church were going to White Cone, Arizona to do a vacation Bible School for the locals. It was our first trip with the truck camper.
I just went to my database and counted the nights that we have volunteered. Out of 1,404 nights we have camped since 1994, 303 of them have been volunteer nights. That is the reason my nightly average campground fee is only $14.50. We have never stayed in a Walmart lot overnight.
Our Seniors at church have taken on Children’s Bible Ministry as a project. They have thirteen camps from Florida to Maryland to Oklahoma. We build, repair, or do whatever is needed. The truck camper is super for this because you can pull a tool trailer with you. It’s a good opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior.” – Kenneth Wright, 2005 Dodge 2500D, Travel Lite 890
“I volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse doing disaster relief and Campers On Mission doing local church missions and construction. I truly enjoy both organizations by helping others in need while sharing my love and compassion through my Christian faith.
Volunteering with the truck camper is most convenient. I can go directly to the work site or park at the hosting church without taking up any more space than a regular parking space. I usually get water and electricity but have to dump at a nearby campground if a dump is not available.
Samaritan’s Purse provides shower facilities, the church bathroom facilities, and three meals a day. My last deployment was last week at the Albany, Georgia tornado disaster with Samaritan’s Purse.
I full-time in my Eagle Cap 850 with my therapy dog, Gunner. You can contact Samaritan’s Purse at their website samaritanspurse.org or Google search for a state chapter of Campers On Mission.” – Mike Cianci, 2004 Ford F350, 2010 Eagle Cap 850
“Yes, we try to identify a good fit that works into our travel plans. We have volunteered with Virginia State Parks as Visitor Center staff members. They provided us with a campsite for working six to eight hours for five days per week. They were very flexible for which days we worked.
The choice experience was with Oregon State Parks at Heceta Head Lighthouse we worked four hours for five days a week. A super benefit was that in addition to the campsite we also had use of a washer and dryer. We have traded work days for a free campsite at Camp Wanakee, a United Methodist Church campground in our home state of New Hampshire.” – Steven Fisher, 2014 GMC 3500, 2014 Chalet DS116FB
“As a lifelong hiker, from 1995 to 2000, I undertook a personal Give Back project. I spent about 100 days doing volunteer trail building and maintenance.
About half of that was day trips from home and half was using my small RV. I worked for the US Forest Service, various state parks, BLM, Boy Scouts, The Nature Conservancy, and The Pacific Crest Trail Association. Usually, jobs are available to fit the strengths and skills of each crew member; cutting brush, moving the cut brush, repairing trail tread, etc.
You get to meet interesting people. Sometimes you get free camp space and food. Some work parties last half a day and some last a week. I heartily recommend this type of volunteer work and would still be doing it except that my elderly spine seems to have passed its use-by date.
Interested? Contact your favorite trail association or the volunteer group of your favorite park.” – Karen Smith, small Class C
“The Nebraska Game and Parks Department sponsors a number of outdoor educational opportunities for both school students and families. I am a volunteer fishing instructor. Each spring there are two and three day programs at three sites; Platte River State Park, Ft Kearny, and Scottsbluff. In return for teaching fishing, the state provides me with free camping at each location or nearby. Others who teach everything from Dutch oven cooking to archery to kayaking are also provided free camping. Several of us have truck campers.
In addition, there are one day programs such as carp fest, where one is able to camp the night before beside the lake. Finally, various school classrooms on the eastern side of the lake are taught fishing in one day programs.
Game and parks is always looking for volunteers, and some of the folks are from surrounding states, too. We have a lot of fun.” – Stan Johnson, 2009 GMC 2500, 2009 Northstar Laredo
“We volunteer every year to help put on the National Championship of the Single Action Shooting Society, Winter Range, in Phoenix, Arizona. We end up with almost a thousand showers every year. About fifty of us spend two weeks putting the together and then taking it down. Dry camping is available for us on the range. All the proceeds from the shoot go to charities in the area. We are over $300,000 in donations so far.
Cowboy shooting is one of the big reasons that I chose my Northern Lite 10.2 Ex. I needed good reasonable tank capacity as well as a large basement for storage.” – Mark Harrison, 2005 Dodge 2500, 2017 Northern Lite 10.2 EXCD