Old Diary

Never Try to Make Travel Plans On Friday If You’re a Camp Host

camp signI’ve been smiling so much my cheeks ache!

Friday nights are fun. Cars rolling in and out, confused campers trying to find where they belong, firestarters roaming the forest floor looking for firewood. Oh Boy, We are Having Fun!

I’m just funnin’ ya.  The activity is real but the key to control is preparation and we’re prepared.

It’s quite easy to sort out the newbies, wave the return campers on through and answer questions based upon our ever-greater accumulation of campground information.  The faces quickly become associated with site numbers and departure dates, and when you come down to it, the questions are pretty much the same from week to week.

  • How many tents can I put up in our site?
  • Aren’t there more toilets than that?
  • How long does the shower run for my quarter?
  • Etc..

However, for our part — the private life of Peter and Peggy — we’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to try making travel plans on a Friday if you’re a Camp Host.  No matter what you start to do — just about the time you get to the important part — whatever that might be — someone drives up with questions.

Because this is our first year as fulltimers there remain a lot of things to learn: both about our life as RV’ers and about the even newer-to-us world of RV Volunteering.  We had more or less figured out how we were going to be making plans — but this stint as camp hosts has us looking at how to apply for other positions, how long we might be asked to stay (minimum and maximum stay lengths), and how often we might want to volunteer.  None of this was part of our first two-year plan and we had not done any research on this topic at all.

It has quickly become apparent that there are two worlds of RV workers.  There are volunteers and workampers. RV volunteers generally work 20-32 hours a week in exchange for a free campsite.  Workampers might work for a free campsite or for a free campsite and wages.  Some workampers are related to the recreation industry, but others are for commerce — Amazon.com for example has RV villages for peak season RV’ing staff.

Volunteers might work for governmental units and volunteering for private organizations.   The governmental units might be federal, state, or local agencies.

Each organization makes their own manpower determinations.  Each organization has their own ‘seasonal’ needs and if you want order in the world of humankind — don’t be looking for it here.

My reason for mentioning all of this is simple.  We really like working with the Corps of Engineers, and we really like their campgrounds.  But…. I like critters too.  And we are hoping to have an experience of Volunteering for National Wildlife Refuges at some point. It has become crystal that each of these agencies expects different services from their volunteers — we’re trying to learn a completely new language we knew nothing about a few months ago.

It might be nice at some point to volunteer at a National Park, but we’re a long way from that now.  We are still trying to sort out much more basic moving-with-the-seasons lessons.  We had been planning on Winter in Texas and that may still happen.  Over the last three days I have sent out some volunteer inquiries and do not yet know if we waited too long before trying to line something up for this winter.  We are finding some places that had their Winter volunteers chosen in March.  And others are now recruiting for next summer.

Dealing with all these new challenges while popping up and down to answer camper questions is a little challenging but we’re managing quite nicely.  It’s good we both have been multi-taskers from way back.  And Friday is the busiest day of the week here.  We’ll have plenty to do tomorrow — but less than today.  Sunday is our most strenuous day — as campers depart and we make our rounds to check out the sites and do whatever cleanup work is necessary.  By Monday we’ll be worn out — but this week we plan to do some painting while there are no reservations in one area.  After that we’ll have time to ourselves.  The painting is optional but it’s something we want to do — just to make things nicer for ourselves and for other campers.

I got my camera out today. There were mushrooms and toadstools I wanted to play with. While I had the camera out I did some shots of the hummingbirds.  I’m not really satisfied with the images, but they are good enough to have fun with.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “Never Try to Make Travel Plans On Friday If You’re a Camp Host

  1. Judy Bell says:

    Hi Peter,

    Yes, I will be heading toward Bayou Cocodrie NWR at the end of September. My stint there will be Oct. 15 – Jan, 15. They are in the process of putting in two RV volunteer spots this summer. I don’t know if they have any volunteers signed up for the second pad yet.

    I’ve found it to a crap shoot to know when the best time is to apply at different refuges or agencies. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to their timing. Everyone seems to do it differently.


    • Judy,

      Thanks for the answer. Following fellow RV’ers gets confusing for me, I am chronologically challenged and sometimes 1 week seems a month and a year seems little more than 30 days. Been that way all my life, which has resulted in interesting experiences when I tell someone “I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” I thought that I had read about you moving and then with the interim and all your posts I lost track of your schedule. Thanks.

      We are finishing up our first stint as RV volunteers. We aren’t far — the CORPS campground at Highland Ridge in Spring Valey WI. We had been talking about volunteering and an opportunity fell into our lap while we were here — so we leapt at it and we will be here for 6 weeks as camp hosts. We’re about half way through our gig now. The experience has been so rewarding that we have been investigating other opportunities — specifically wildlife related — Wildlife Refuges and even a docent position at a snowy plover nesting area.

      I fear we might be too late for locations this winter that might have been more desirable locations (from our point of view), but we have been making inquiries to see what’s available. We’d probably try to get a little further south than the location to which you are heading. I don’t know whether any of our inquiries will bear fruit but all you can do is try.

      I agree on the crap shoot. Somehow one is tempted to think that all the locations from a single agency might do things the same way. But, heck, they don’t even handle on-site reservations the same way — why I ever thought that there would be consistency on a macro level eludes me. Consistency, then, between agencies would be too much to hope for.

      I never know whether to use the volunteer.gov application first, or to use the point of contact information when it’s present. I’ve been a self-employed photographer for so long that I’m completely out of touch with job application filling, and for that matter what I have heard from some of my models even 20 and 30 somethings aren’t having any better luck filling out their applications. The world has changed so much in recent years that none of the old ‘rules’ seem to apply. But that’s a dirge for a different day.

      We’ll see what we find, either for this winter or next spring/summer. Perhaps we’ll run into you (“figuratively,” he hastens to add — after hearing your accident story) one of these months… Love the images.



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