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Question Of The Week

Truck Campers Punch In On Workamping

We had some very passionate responses to last week’s Question of the Week, “Would you consider workamping?”.

Many readers responded that they would indeed be interested in workamping.  For information on workamping, we recommend Workamper News.  Since 1987, Workamper News has championed the workamping community and brought workamping employers and employees together.  For workamping opportunities, check out their website, www.workamper.com.

Here are the responses:

“Our long term goal is to workamp and travel to state and national parks throughout our beautiful country.” – Paul Roberson, 2014 Ford F350, 1988 Lance 980

“Yes, I work the summers for the United States Forest Service (USFS) in the campgrounds in northern Minnesota every summer now.  It only seams a easy switch to be workamping when we retire in two years.” – Larry and Becky Barnes, 1983 GMC C2500 Camper Special, 1993 Lance 4000

“I have indeed considered workamping.  I am lifetime member of Workamper News and have been learning more about it for several years.  I occasionally peruse their job listings that are emailed daily, but am not ready to make that jump yet.  I think it is a great opportunity to earn some money while being able to stay and see different areas of the country.” – Sally Stomberg, 2006 Ford F550, 2006 Lance 1191, and 2008 Surveyor 260BH Fifth Wheel

“This is a great topic.  As a campground owner, I hire workampers on a year round basis.  In the winter months my needs for workampers are hospitality, taking care of the club house, restroom cleaning, and some grounds keeping.  We are always looking for summertime help that is mostly grounds keeping.

Through the years our workampers have proved that the best people to work in campgrounds are those who are actually campers.  A most common practice in compensation is a full hook-up space in return for around twenty hours per week in work.  We throw in free access to coined laundry.

We have some workampers that come back year after year.  I place help wanted ads in the Workamper News and always get a lot of responses.  Just sending an application is good, but if there is a follow-up phone call by the applicant, it shows sincere interest in the job being offered.  I would say if one were interested in trying out workamping to give it a shot.  It’s not long term and you meet some great folks.” – Don Walker, 2009 Dodge 3500, Northstar Igloo

“We’ve thought about it a lot.  The only drawback for us is the time required to be in one location and not having the feed time we crave.  Having dogs further complicates things in some places.  I could deal with it, but my husband has his own preferences that don’t line up.  The financial return, or lack thereof was another factor.  For someone who has a pension, savings, along with social security, it would probably work.” – Cheryl Nelson, 2004 Chevy 3500, 1990 Shadow Cruiser 9.5

“I’ve only volunteered to date.  All my volunteering has been for the National Park Service as a campground host.” – Joe McGerald, 1991 Ford F350, 1995 Lance 880

“At my age I have enough work just maintaining the house, camper, and vehicles.  I prefer traveling to working.” – John Bull, 2004 Dodge 3500, 2015 Arctic Fox 990

“Yes, we would consider workamping.  We just don’t know anything about it.  We will start full-time trucking camping soon, and would like some information on this subject.” – Alston and Kelli Hammons, 2007 Arctic Fox 1140

“Yes, I would consider workamping.” – Trevor R. Dicks, 1985 Toyota Huntsman motorhome

“In a word, no.  I have so much work to do when at home (we live on a farm), that, even though I’m retired from my primary vocation (veterinarian), I’m still quite busy.  When we do manage to grab a few days away in the camper, it’s dedicated to R&R!” – John and Marylou Wells, 2011 Chevy 3500, Chalet Ascent S100F

“We have a 40-foot fifth wheel and have been workampers for nine years and a park manager for five of those years.  Having been on both sides I would say this, owners do not fully appreciate the skills and talents that workampers bring.  Some ask a retired couple to work as many hours and as hard as they did in their careers for minimal pay.  Some even want you to pay for a site and utilities.  I would encourage anyone thinking of workamping to make real sure what you are getting into; pay, hours, site, duties, etc.  It would be to everyone’s benefit to go in eyes wide open.” – Tom Elliott, 2007 Dodge Ram 2500, between campers right now

“Right now we are traveling full-time so, no, we would not consider it at the moment.  But a year or so down the road we probably will, mostly to help our budget so that we can continue in our full-time lifestyle.” – Joanne Hall, 2014 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, 2014 Lance 1172

“Yes, I would love to work while enjoying my camper.  I’m not sure how my husband would feel about that.” – Rochelle Berg, 2013 GMC 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 992

“I would and have considered workamping as a second job already.  I work a pretty sweet schedule and it would allow for something like this.  I also live within ten to fifteen minutes of six really nice campgrounds, so it would be easy to get to.  Unfortunately, with kids still in school, my wife wouldn’t let me.  I still have family stuff to take care of.  In nine more years when I retire, you’ll be able to find me at one of those campgrounds.” – Robert Williams, 2012 GMC Sierra HD 3500, 1994 Fleetwood Caribou 9’6″

“I have given it some thought but, after researching the requirements, it appears to be a very boring use of my time.  Most of the ones I talked to spend hours sitting at a entrance gate to check people into campground.  I’d rather be out hiking or biking.” – Thomas Wilson, 2015 Chevy 3500, 2015 Adventurer 89RB

“I’ve always thought if I found the right area it might be fun to workamp for a short period of time.  Perhaps I could do it as a fill in.  My first priority is to get out of my regular work first.  Anyone looking for an opportunity to own a sporting goods store?” – Dave Miller, 2015 Ford F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E

“My husband and I would consider workamping.  However, we would be very particular about where we workamped.  He’s an office/finance type guy so he could help out behind the scenes with computer stuff and finance tracking.  He also could help with planning and booking entertainment.  I have learned how to do basic maintenance and repair of most things, so I could help with general maintenance.  I learned basic handyman skills from my father growing up, so that has come in handy.” – Pam Conner, 2015 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1150

“Yes, I would, but I have no experience.” – Robert Johnson, 1988 Chevy K1500, 1985 Fleetwood Prowler

“No, we would not want to be workampers.” – Laurel Wilson, 2013 Ford F350, 2000 Four Wheel Grandby

“Yes, I would be interested in workamping when I retire in a couple of years.  I can travel and see more of the country.” – Tom Miner, 2004 Dodge Ram 3500, 2005 Host Yukon 11.5 SS

“Yes, we would like to workcamp.  We want to stay busy in our travels once we retire and would like to help out wherever we can.  We both have extensive construction experience plus I can do electrical and plumbing work as well.  Paula would also enjoy working at a front desk or with computer work.

We like being useful and helping people, so if we can do that and get free campsites or some extra income, that’s a great combination.  The first year or two will hopefully be spent in travel only, but workcamping after that is a real possibility.” – Mike and Paula Bostic, 1999 Ford F350, 2012 Chalet S95R Ascent

“No.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250SD, 1999 Lance 920

“I would love to work camp.  Where do I sign up?  Tell me more.” – Howard Bisco, 2015 Ford F250, 2014 Palomino HS6601

“Work?  That’s a naughty four letter word to me.” – Ralph Goff aka Ramblin’ Ralph, 2006 GMC 2500HD, 2001 Lance 845

“We haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds interesting from the many workampers we have met in over thirty years of RVing.” – Glenn Johannessen, 1979 Ford F250, 1992 Lance 880

“We want to workamp, and other times just relax.  Maybe we can volunteer.  We need to keep busy some of the year.  Caretaker jobs and a guard at the gate are some possibilities.  My wife will be medical coding from the truck camper.” – Larry Herron, 2011 Ford F350, 2011 Lance 1191

“We look forward to a time when we can give workcamping a try.” – Barry Schoenwetter, 2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD, 2005 Lance 1030

“I have looked at this quite a bit.  If it allows me to retire earlier than otherwise planned, I will consider it.” – Kevin Jenckes, 1996 Ford F250, 2006 Northstar 850SC

“We would definitely consider it.  Our post-retirement plan (can’t get here soon enough) is to volunteer in the national park system.  However, we’ll certainly explore paid opportunities as we find them.” – Ed Amato, 2000 Ford F350, 2015 Northern Lite 10-2 EX RR

“I’m planning on retiring in a few years, and I am interested in workamping.  I have seen the volunteer.gov site and am considering trying out a few work trips.  I hope to read more about it in this survey.” – Rick, 2003 Dakota, 2015 Palomino 800

workamp-moo-se-alaska workamp-texas-2 workamp-texas-3

Above: Workamping in Alaska and Texas

“Before Don and I downsized to a truck camper, we were park hosts in two state parks, one in Alaska and one in Texas.  We retired in 2000 and wanted to travel and see the USA.  At first we planned to work at Yellowstone in the company store, but that seemed too much like work.  Instead we volunteered for campground hosting in Alaska.

We were assigned to Chena River State Recreation Area, a 250,000 acre expanse that’s fifty miles northeast of Fairbanks.  We took care of the Tors Trail Campground with its twenty-four sites and monitored the hiker parking area.  The later to ensure that all vehicles were reclaimed within two to three days.  Since it never quite got dark, people came out to hike at any hour of the day or night on the fifteen mile trail that started at the campground.

We also kept an eye on the paddling traffic on the river.  You wouldn’t believe what people consider floatable and how many boats were held together with duct tape.

We met people from all over the world, and many, many locals.  We learned quickly to go with the flow and that rules were just suggestions in the far north.  Beside the standard campground tasks we built a woodshed, did maintenance on remote cabins, and directed tourists to the mile marker where you see the moose.

This job would have been much nicer in a truck camper, since it would have been so much easier to pull out on our two consecutive days off mid-week.  Even so, we managed to get north of the Arctic Circle and down to Denali to camp.  As campground hosts, several attractions in the Fairbanks area gave us free passes so we’d be able to tell our visitors about them.

This was an unpaid post, but we got a $70 stipend every two weeks, a free campsite, and propane.  The campsite had no hook-ups, the water had to be hand pumped, and dumping was a challenge.

The following winter we headed to the panhandle of Texas to work at Palo Duro State Park.  We did not escape winter as it was one of their worst in history.  They were rebuilding the road to the canyon, so we spent most of our three months there on the rim.  We worked in the visitor’s center/museum/gift shop. It was a totally different experience from Alaska and we were bored a lot of the time.  Again, if we’d had a truck camper, we might have left.  They finally finished the road, and we moved down to take care of the Hackberry Campground.

We got to know the Panhandle and Amarillo quite well.  We visited places like Cadillac Ranch and traveled Route 66.  We got a campsite here with full hook-ups and a discount at the gift shop, but no money.

We had always intended to do more, but life got in the way.  Since we’ve had our truck camper, we have applied to be hosts in national parks, but these positions are harder to come by.  We would definitely do it again but, this time, in our truck camper.” – Sue and Don Graf, 2008 Ford F350, 2013 Arctic Fox 865

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