I received numerous emails regarding “Campground Living: Better than Reality TV” ( https://hscooper.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/campground-living/ ) and will definitely be posting more crazy, zany and just plain odd things we have seen at campgrounds throughout the years.
Yet some of the “best” experiences have actually come from working at campgrounds. If you think living in a campground is better than reality TV, then let me tell you, campground working is better than a talk show!
The field of outdoor hospitality (sounds fancy, huh?) includes working in campgrounds, parks, resorts and marinas. There are numerous areas to work – from office work to housekeeping to maintenance.
We have worked (workamped) at campgrounds and boating resorts. We have done everything from be Camp Hosts to work every area of the resort. Each experience has added another funny story to share.
The majority of memorable moments that I have had come from working the office. The great thing about the office is you get to interact with the guests more. It also takes a seasoned person to work the front desk or main check-in of a busy campground or resort. Some guests are just not happy Campers and it can be emotionally draining.
I am pretty seasoned in hospitality and can just glance at Campers coming in and know how their trip has been up until the moment they stepped through the door. I can tell if a husband and wife haven’t spoken to each other for several hundred miles, if they had their RV or tow vehicle break down en route, if they don’t get along with their children / grandchildren who tagged along, if they are really frugal Campers, if they are newbies (new to camping) or if they are Full-Time RVers.
I could tell you how I can identify these Camper from within a few moments of contact – that alone is worth a few laughs – but like a magician, I can’t reveal all my secrets!
One of my favorites is the frugal Campers. They are what I call Counter-Slappers. They are the ones who come into the office, scrutinize the surroundings and then ask you how much it is to spend the night. After you tell them, they slap the counter and loudly proclaim, “I’ve been to every campground in this country and I have never paid that much to spend the night!” If it’s not the nightly rate, they grumble about something else – extra person fee, Cable fee, dog fee, you-name-it… Counter-Slappers find any reason to make a fool of themselves. If these folks appeared on a talk show, they would be the ones throwing chairs or flashing the audience.
It wasn’t until I worked at a RV park in the state of Washington that I had to add a sub-category, which I call extreme Counter-Slappers. These are the Campers (or Day Users in the case of two ECSs I encountered) who slap the counter and then pronounce that everything is a conspiracy or some sort of personal plot against them. These are the talk show type that make you shake your head and say, “Where did they dig this guy up?”
One of my favorite types is the new Camper. There are three types of Newbies: Questioner, Know-it-All and the Helpless. These are the folks you would roll your eyes at if you saw them on a talk show.
The Questioner obviously questions everything. My favorite has been the woman who asked, “Does full-hookups mean we get full-hookups?” I like this type – they create some humorous table-conservation that evening!
Now the Know-it-All really tests my patience. These are new Campers who have either spoken to someone who told them things about camping or they read a book or magazine article about camping and are suddenly experts. Like the man who told me that no hookups (it was a dry camp) was okay for him and his new 40 ft. motorhome. He was adamant he didn’t need hookups. I gave in and registered him. Twenty minutes later he came back and said, “You said you had no hookups, but where is the electricity and sewer?”
Although they can be tiring and needy, you have to love the Helpless Newbies! My personal favorite was the woman who came up and told me “My toilet stinks!” I asked her if they had dumped their black water tank (sewer holding tank) and she told me they didn’t need to dump “any black water”, just get rid of their toilet smell. 😉
But these are just a few Campers you encounter working in the office. There are other types and you encounter several more types working outside in the campground! Some can be rather annoying, but again, it makes for great story-telling when it’s all over. Who needs talk shows when you work in a campground?!