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Campground Hosting at State/Federal parks
Old 06-12-2021, 01:58 PM   #1
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Campground Hosting at State/Federal parks

Now entering our 3rd week as campground hosts at a State Park in Virginia. Always wanted to give this gig a try when I retired, now Iím doing it.. Have been a lifelong camper with travels across the US and Canada, usually in ďtouring modeĒ where we only spent 1-4 days in any given park in order to visit more parks. (Closing in on 100 parks in the National Park System.)

Interested in others experiences serving as campground hosts at public parks. Best states, parks, campgrounds to host at.

Sharing a few of my observations here:

- RV/camper sales went through the roof due to Covid as there are many more first timers pulling into campgrounds.

- Most campers (95%) are respectful toward other campers, host, park staff, quiet hours, etc.

- host volunteer opportunities are quickly grabbed up.

- campgrounds are full on weekends and only 20% occupied mid-week (arrive Sunday, depart Friday).

- 5:1 RV to tent camper ratio

Camp hosts in Virginia State Parks get free full hookup site and are expected to put in 30+ Volunteer hours/week. Specific duties vary by park.
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Old 06-12-2021, 02:07 PM   #2
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You lost me at logging 30+ hours a week. Sounds too much like w#@%!
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Old 06-12-2021, 06:30 PM   #3
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I've done this in the past in a large state park campground. It was fun for a few seasons and I enjoyed it for the most part. The ability to camp all summer long at one of our favorite places for free with a beautiful lake at our doorstep was nice. But after a few years it starts to become more like a job and the fun wears off.

I had to do 20-30 hours a week but we had fun and helped each other out. It's not for everyone that's for sure.
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Old 06-12-2021, 06:36 PM   #4
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I know locally hosts work 20 hours for pay and a free site. One of the tasks is cleaning the bathrooms.
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Old 06-12-2021, 06:46 PM   #5
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I believe that in 2 or 3 years time it will be an ideal time to pick up a pristine condition nearly new RV.

Should be lots of them flooding the market by then!
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:25 PM   #6
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I believe that in 2 or 3 years time it will be an ideal time to pick up a pristine condition nearly new RV.

Should be lots of them flooding the market by then!


True. But could be a lot of people living in them too.
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:34 PM   #7
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I’ve known a lot of state park campground hosts, became good friends with some. We full timed for 5 years and we spent a great deal of time in state and federal parks as they were out ideal camping. But we were never tempted to host. Too much dealing with the public! Too much work.
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for posting your experience with hosting!

In my younger days I actually thought it would be fun owning a campground. Meeting people, building stuff, fixing various systems, plus living in a campground.

But I suspect it's more like a boater getting a job at (or owning) a marina. You don't get to enjoy the boating/camping season because you're always working, and watching others have a good time camping/boating. It's probably the same for skiers or any other seasonal recreational activity. Fun to do, but when it becomes a job, not so much.

Anyway, I'd give either gig a try, at least until it felt more like w*rk.
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:57 AM   #9
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I know locally hosts work 20 hours for pay and a free site. One of the tasks is cleaning the bathrooms.
The bathhouse is cleaned twice daily by rangers at the park I’m at. They only ask that we alert them to issues and do minor sweeping if needed (only once 3 weeks into the gig). However, tasks vary by park, so it’s important to read park specific expectations before signing up.

So far most of what we do is related to prepping sites (clean fire pit, litter patrol, raking gravel if needed), selling firewood in the evening, chatting with campers about the park and answering any questions they may have. We pitch in to help out with light weeding in a interpretive garden area which is over and above their expectations. 95% of campers are pleasant, 5% we avoid after first contact. Usually helps when they understand we are volunteering.

Overall, does not feel like W@£K yet. Best perk is the golf cart that allows us to cruise the park to view nature. However, don’t think I would do the gig more than once/year.
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Old 06-13-2021, 07:15 AM   #10
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I can see where being a gatekeeper at a campground would be very enjoyable--at least for a couple of weeks. Campers are generally very laid back and responsible people.

I'm part owner of a member owned campground. We have 3 in the office to sign in new campers, 3 cleaning our 25 rental trailers and 6 maintenance guys. The bathrooms are spotless too.
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:45 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bamaman View Post
I can see where being a gatekeeper at a campground would be very enjoyable--at least for a couple of weeks. Campers are generally very laid back and responsible people.
I wonder if this is still the case with all the camping newbies out there who continue to set records purchasing RV's during the pandemic?

Can't find it now but I saw a blog post from a campground owner who recently sold his RV park. The increased hassle of dealing with the large influx of first-time or inexperienced campers was one of the several reasons he listed for selling.
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:56 AM   #12
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Interesting thread. The first couple of years I looked into and inquired about volunteering at national park close to me for a few months. They only scheduled you for a month and then new volunteers would take your spot.

I was very interested in camping that month and being part of that culture for the experience/journey. I never did do it but I still might in the future.
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Old 06-13-2021, 09:58 AM   #13
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Its crazy that people are buying these overpriced rigs now. I will wait a couple of years when the economy takes a hit and prices crash. I guess the same goes for housing and vehicles also. As far as working at a park i guess it would be nice to stay rent free but for my wife and i the purpose of retiring and traveling is to see the sites not be working.
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Old 06-13-2021, 11:51 AM   #14
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The pup and I did a 2 week stint as camp host in 2018 and came back for another 2 week that stretched to 4 weeks in 2019 at a land trust camp ground.
Mostly fun. No pay but free camping, electric, and water. No cleaning other than picking up a few lost water bottles on the trails and pools. Duties were mostly getting folks to leash the dogs, leave when their time was up, obey the noise rules, and keep the Smores supply and fire going.
Most people were fine but did have a couple of troublesome guests. Will do it again when I get a chance.
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Old 06-14-2021, 09:07 AM   #15
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Since we've fulltimed in an RV and are still traveling half of the year we've met many camp hosts. Most of them are enjoying the work & lifestyle. Some jobs are much better than others. Most of these guys say to get in writing what your expected duties and hours are. Each campground whether commercial or public is different due to differing policies and management.
One of the neatest places we visited and briefly considered camp hosting was at a little known petroglyph site near Cottonwood, AZ. It was an abandoned farm now owned by the feds. It had a few campsites only for the hosts, a petroglyph site that the hosts monitored, a gift shop, couple bathrooms, and best of all: a cliff dwelling that was off limits to the public. But the hosts had permission to explore it. The site was only open from 9am to 5pm, behind a locked gate. Looked like a fun place to be.
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Old 06-14-2021, 09:37 AM   #16
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The last time I visited a federal (Army Corp of Engineers lake) the hosts were telling me how things had changed over the last 15 years of them hosting. They used to really enjoy it but they noted that they have to w*rk a lot more hours and have to go so far as to submit a bid and go through the whole contract deal to get awarded the j*b.

I recall as well back in 2019 at the same camp ground (have visited it annually since I was in high school), those hosts were in the worst mood ever...I had NEVER seen anyone at that site be so cantankerous!

I think a number of years ago it would have been OK, but with the onerous government requirements now, I don't think I would be as inclined. Plus, it is still w*rk, which I am definitely allergic to.
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Old 06-14-2021, 10:00 AM   #17
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Personally, I would never consider hosting at a commercial campground. From what I’ve seen over the years these businesses staff up primarily through “workamping” where they give you a (usually crappy) site and a little pay in exchange for you taking on a job with set hours (run store, clean bathrooms, mow lawn, man front counter). And being in a crowded private campground with lots of folks is not anything I desire to do. Resort Campgrounds are even worse IMO. I’m sure there are exceptions, but overall the grass is greener on the Public Park (state/federal) side of the road.

The best gigs I’ve seen are at the National Forest Campgrounds out West. They are generally smaller in size and attract a better crowd - people wanting to take in nature, not party all night. Hosts are there more to check for freeloaders, answer questions and alert rangers if needed. However, too far away for me at this time.
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Old 06-14-2021, 10:07 AM   #18
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I've seen some really nice NF campgrounds with NO hookups except for the hosts.
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Old 06-14-2021, 10:32 AM   #19
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Our perennial 4th of July campground is one I would consider hosting at. No hookups, there is a small solar powered well for drinking only. The hosts get a large dump tank that gets pumped periodically, but no other amenities. No phone service or internet either.
Sounds rough till you wake up every morning to the bouquet of the lodgepole pines. It is high enough that it rarely gets to 80 on the hottest day.
We go there because none of our dogs have ever been happy about fireworks, and no fireworks allowed in the national forest land.
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Old 06-14-2021, 11:55 AM   #20
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Iíve had some friends that have been camp hosts and have been asked to do it several times. Itís total benefit has been four dollars an hour or less. I just wouldnít work for that. If youíre board or lonely in retirement it would be good. In the last 3-5 years rving has somewhat changed from retired people exploring our beautiful country to people trying to live as cheaply as possible. Itís not a cheap lifestyle.
Weíve been full time rving since I retired in 2000.
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