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You see a work-camp job ad that sounds too good to be true… you apply. A week or so later you get a phone call or email from that employer… and you find out what was too good to be true indeed was. In fact, they seem to have forgotten what their ad stated. Or, they apologize for their ad being wrong in the first place. Okay, it happens… but several times over a few weeks?

I have been chatting with other work-campers having the same increase in “bait and switch” offers this season.  Most of the jobs have either had a cut in weekly work hours (that minimize pay) or have increased the number of work hours needed to keep your camp site (and reduces the hours of pay received for hours worked over minimum site hours – if applicable). And a few have actually cut their seasonally help date from May to June and November to Labor Day weekend. This is definitely an inconvenience for those who gave notice to their current employer, only to find out they had nowhere to go for a month (or more) between jobs.

Unfortunately, the work-camp world is not getting any better. More folks are joining the ranks of work-camping only to discover jobs are not paying what they promised. And those who had previously only worked-for-site or volunteer opportunities have found their outside income stretched in these economic conditions and in need of some sort of stipend or wages to supplement the increase in food and fuel costs.

When applying for jobs or responding to employers it is necessary to double-check everything! Don’t assume you get a free site. Some employers are now charging site and/or electricity. Their park may offer WiFi or Cable TV, but don’t assume it is free for work-campers. Many still charge a monthly or weekly fee for these services.

Create a worksheet of questions to ask potential employers. See Know Before You Go for ideas on what you should ask and verify.

It is absolute vital you get a contract, signed by both parties stating the start/end dates, compensation (wages, site, cable…),  job/duties and anything else pertinent to the position. This not only protects the work-camper, but also the employer.  It gives them assurance that you will be there throughout the season or determined period.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little smarter in your search and you’ll find the right job situation for you.

There is a long definition of what makes someone a workamper, but it basically states that if you live in a RV and work, you are a workamper.

You do not need to travel vast distances to work – your RV can be sitting on a pad in a campground somewhere indefinately – and if you get up in the morning to do some sort of work (for pay or trade) or a have a volunteer job, you are a workamper. So if your grandma in South Florida lives in a travel trailer at a 55+ park and works at the local fabric store part-time, she’s a workamper!

Although most Full-Time RVers are retirees with pensions and/or Social Security, there are many who are not. In fact, this number is on the rise. Singles (or “solos”), young couples and families are discovering that you can not only make a living from this lifestyle, but you can also have more free time.

Work-campers are a varied bunch – from twenty-somethings to ninety year olds; from those with GEDs to those with PhDs. Each work-camper offers diversity to the workplace or their community. Work-campers are usually very flexible. And they offer something that folks stuck with a house does not – mobility.

There are countless seasonal jobs in this country – from working NASCAR races and amusement parks to campgrounds and resorts to casinos and ranches to Christmas tree lots and fruit and vegetable harvests. Seasons vary as well as the duration of each position. NASCAR races maybe just two-three days a week for a number of weeks, but a resort position may be year-round. Salary benefits vary depending on the position. Some of these jobs pay incredible wages, in addition to full or partial benefits. And, surprisingly, there are even government, corporate and sales positions available to work-campers.

The first thing you need to do is research what types of jobs are available. If you are a “Wannabe” (what Full-Timers call those folks who want to try this lifestyle, yet are not ready) then you have time to discover what is available when and where and for how much.

Most books on Full-Time RVing contain a section on finding work or at the very least, Camp Hosting. There is one book devoted to the subject that I recommend and that is Support Your RV Lifestyle by Jaimie Hall. This book cites many places to seek additional information and it is a great reference book to keep (even after you have secured a position and think you know what you are doing).

The next step is to subscribe to a work-camper-related publication, such as The Workamper News or The Caretaker Gazette. Read all the listings, learn the terminology and see where the work is, when it is and the benefits that come with it. Some jobs only provide a free campsite with utilities, other may include a long list of benefits (as well as salary) such as laundry, propane, store or cafe discounts, Cable or SAT TV, WiFi, phone service, golf cart usage, etc… It may not seem like much, but if you start adding up your site costs and the extras, you may find that you are saving several hundred to over a thousand dollars a month from your own pocket! And longer term positions even offer medical and health benefits to their work-camp employees.

When it is time to pull-up stakes and make that transition to a Full-Timer you will have a better understanding of what is available. Begin applying for the upcoming season at least three months prior and do not limit yourself to one position! If you want to stay in a region for a period of time, then apply to all those that interest you and you believe you are qualified for in that region. If you wait on just one place to call, you may find yourself waiting a long time!

If you know when you will be available, advertise yourself. Many work-camper employers do not place ads. They either rely on repeat work-campers or “position wanted” ads. Many places online offer free ads, as well as subscribers for various publications, including The Workamper News.

And once you secure a position – especially if it is only a couple months – start seeking another one. The more you work-camp, you find this actually becomes much easier. And many work-campers prefer to work the same regions or even positions, season-after-season. They like the familiarity of the work and area and return each season.

If you are one of those already on the road or in a RV and find that your monthly income is not stretching as far as it was before the economy went South for the winter, then there are some things you can do immediately to start searching for a job.

The first one is to put yourself online. Advertise, advertise, advertise! There are several websites where you can post information.

If you just cannot get that money to stretch as far and the campground fees are eating your pension, then consider contacting your state’s website for information on being a Camp Host (usually termed “Campground Host program”). Other places to seek this type of work are from the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Corp of Engineers. You can conveniently find their opportunities at under the “Volunteer Opportunities” section (by state and job). Some of these Camp Host positions may offer a small daily or monthly stipend.

Rangers and park officials will call you if they have an opening, as well as you being able to call them to see if they need hosts for whatever period of time you are interested in. These are wonderful programs to get involved in, especially if you have no or very limited hosting experience. Several states even have yearly rallies for their Camp Hosts.

Another option is that many smaller campgrounds cannot afford an on-site manager or large staff and rely on work-campers to volunteer – a “work for site” deal. The campground you are staying in right now may need your help.

Camp Hosts live free, most often with full-hookups and perks, for a minimum number of hours each week or day. Hosting positions can vary from one month to six months and possibly more. This can help you save money immediately.

And as previously stated, you do not have to even move your RV. If you want to find a position in the local community and work a regular 9-to-5 job, you can! That is another perk of the work-camp lifestyle.

Every day thousands of people go to work and return “home” to their RV. The only difference for a work-camper is where home is parked!

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