10 Ways Working in the Mercantile is Easier Than Being a Camp Host


During the camping seasons (May through October) of 2015 and 2016, I worked as a camp host in a very small (nine rentable sites) campground in a remote area of a National Forest. In addition to my camp host duties, I worked in the day use area of a very popular trailhead. (To read about those adventures, get my collection of

Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods
personal essays Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods, available from Amazon as a paperback or an eBook.)

This camping season, I was hired to work in the new “mercantile” (the word the Forest Service prefers over “store”) at the campground just down the road from the day use area. The store’s been open just over a month, and I’ve identified several reasons I think working in the store is easier than being a camp host.

#1 No pit toilets to clean.

#2 No raking sites or cleaning fire rings either.

#3 Less outdoor work and physical labor means I don’t get as dirty.

#4 I work out of the sun. Being indoors most of the day means I don’t have to wear a hat or sunscreen or long sleeves to protect my skin.

This photo I took shows the mercantile where The Man and I work. The mercantile is housed in a yurt.

#5 I don’t have to explain to people why the pass they paid a lot of money for does not get them a reduced rate on their campsite.

#6 I don’t have to keep large piles of the company’s money in my van.

#7 I work clearly defined shifts. As a camp host, I had to handle problems whenever they arose. As a clerk in the store, when my shift is over, I’m off duty.

#8 When my shift is over, I take off my uniform and nonemployees think I’m just another visitor. No one thinks to ask me questions when I’m on my campsite in “civilian” clothes.

#9 When new stock comes in, my co-workers and I have the fun of deciding where and how to display everything.

#10 So far, really obnoxious people have stayed out of the store.

Stay tuned tomorrow for ten ways being a camp host and day use attendant was easier than working in the mercantile.

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist. Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it. I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk. This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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