Some aspects of having a great experience as a camp host are matters of chance. You have little control over the weather, the mood of your boss, the number of mosquitoes buzzing around your campsite, or whether your campers are nice folks or jerks. However, here are 10 things you can do to increase your chances of having a great camp hosting experience.
#1 Choose a campground in an area that’s right for you. If you read my previous post 10 Steps to Getting a Job as a Work Camper at a Campground, you’ll know you need to consider where you want to work. If you hate humidity, don’t take a job in the Deep South. If you love humidity, stay out of the desert. If you’re hoping for a cool summer, go up in the mountains. You’ll start out at a disadvantage if you hate your campground’s location.
#2 Ask a lot of questions before you accept a job.
The following are questions you may want to ask:
- What is my pay rate?
- How many hours will I be scheduled to work each week? What happens if I work more than my allotted hours? Will I get paid for overtime? Does overtime have to be approved in advance?
- What duties am I responsible for?
- How many days off will I get each week? Will I get the same days off each week? When does my time off begin and when does it end? What if my day off falls on a holiday?
- Will my partner and I work the same hours? Will we get the same days off?
- Am I allowed to have visitors while I’m on duty?
- If I drive my own vehicle for work related duties, will I get a mileage reimbursement?
- If I work after Labor Day weekend, will my hours be cut? If they are cut, by how much?
#3 Get it in writing. Ask for a contract. If there are any disagreements between you and the management in the future, you can refer to your contract.
#4 Research the area where you’ll be working before you go. Learn all you can about the nearby attractions as well as what animals and plants you might see. Keep learning once you get to your campground. Go to the places campers ask you about. Learn the answers to the questions everyone asks.
#5 During your research get yourself a really good paper map of the area. Some people are visual learners and will really appreciate it if you can show them how to get from here to there on a map. Also, if you are in a remote location, GPS systems and map apps may not work.
#6 Know the campground rules and follow them. It’s difficult to enforce rules if campers see you breaking them.
#7 Get paid for every hour you work. It’s only fair. Likewise, work every hour you put on your time card. That’s only fair too.
#8 Use gloves when cleaning toilets. If the company you work for doesn’t provide you with gloves, provide your own. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to clean toilets when you’re not overly worried about getting grossness on your hands.
#9 Wear comfortable, sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Break them in before you start your job.
#10 Laugh every chance you get. People will be rude. You’ll have to pick up annoying micro trash. It will rain when you were hoping for sunshine or snow when you were hoping for warmth. A sense of humor will get you through the rough spots and make your entire camp hosting experience much more enjoyable.
Blaize Sun was a camp host for two seasons (mid-May through mid-October) in a remote Forest Service location in the mountains of California. She wrote a book about her experiences. It’s called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During her time as a camp host she chased a nursing mouse out of a restroom, cleaned feces off the floor, and discovered a dead man. Her sense of humor is all that kept her going on more than one occasion.