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by Chuck Woodbury
Many full-time RVers work part- or sometimes full-time as camp hosts, usually during the summer travel season.
In exchange for a few hours of work a week, camp hosts receive a free campsite, usually with water, utility and often sewer hookups. Camp hosting positions are plentiful, with opportunities in many public and some private campgrounds. Anyone who has done much camping has likely noticed camp hosts in the campgrounds of state parks, national forests and other camping areas. Hosts' campsites are most often right near the entrance of the park. In many rural campgrounds, they will most often be the only sites with utility hookups.
Hosts stay in their own RVs. There is no requirement regarding type or length of vehicle. We have seen some camp hosts squeeze into 22-foot Class C motorhomes, while others spread out in big fifth wheel trailers with multiple slide-outs. While most camp hosting jobs are occupied by married couples, many positions are held by single RVers, both male and female.
Most camp hosts do not receive payment for their services, but some do. We met a couple recently in a large U.S. Forest Service campground near Mt. Baker in Washington state who received both a free campsite as well as an $800 a month stipend. These hosts, however, were required to work nearly full-time, dealing with campers and cleaning each site after it was vacated. Their campground, like many others these days, is operated by a private concessionaire, and not the Forest Service, hence the relatively generous pay.
Camp hosts usually stay a minimum of two months, but usually longer, often for the full camping season - or at least the busiest part, typically Memorial Day to Labor Day. Some camp hosts will work a summer season in the northern part of the country and then head south for the winter with the snowbirds to host in a desert park.
Chores include answering the questions of campers, helping them find a campsite, collecting campsite fees, picking up litter, and keeping an eye on the campground for both safety and security problems. The hosts may be required to clean the restrooms and the fire pits, and/or attend to other maintenance duties. Most hosts are provided with a short-wave radio if no phone is available. In big campgrounds hosts are provided with a golf cart to make their rounds.
Hosts should be in good physical shape. No previous experience is required to be a camp host.
Camp hosts fall into the job classification of "Workamper," defined as a growing group of self-reliant singles and couples who have chosen a lifestyle that combines working with full-time or part-time travel and camping. As more and more Baby Boomer RVers take to the roads, the demand for workamper jobs is expected to increase.