The Business of Work Camping: Getting the perks – Part 1

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By Sam Suva
Whether it is a premium spot or laundry credit, the perks of work camping can make or break a gig. Hourly compensation is important, but the details can leave your wallet gasping, needing an infusion of funds. These extras can come in handy not only for yourself but for your family and friends as well, encouraging them to visit and enjoy the area you have chosen to spend a few months or a few years at.

Let’s discuss what’s available and how to negotiate for those extras. When discussing with the owner or manager about a potential work camping position, it is important to understand how you will be compensated. Once a salary or stipend, a subcontract or work-for-site has been successfully negotiated, it’s time to move on to the perks. These are extras that a camper would have to pay out of pocket for while at the campground. These extras may not even register on the bottom line of a campground to offer a work camper.

Electricity
Believe it or not, this is a perk! Work camping does not always include electric. When talking about the position, ask what the policy is on electric. It may be some compensation, or a stipend for an amount of electricity used, or it may be fully covered. Some campgrounds have “daisy chain” electric for multiple sites on a single utility meter, making it difficult to separate the bill. Other campgrounds offer a utility meter at each site, meaning an account would have to be opened in order to receive service.

Sewer
Imagine getting to the campground, meeting the folks and being shown to your campsite, only to discover there is no sewer hook up! It’s happened. A compensated site can come with a sewer hook up, or with a need to go to a dump station or have a “honey wagon” (Disclaimer, not actual honey!) dump at the site each week. If the campground has no way to haul away your sewage, you may be stuck with a blue sewer caddy hauling your “business” to a dump station or worse – moving your RV each week to dump.


Premium site
There are some beautiful views in a campground. Majestic mountains, sprawling plains, deep blue lakes or amazing skylines. As a work camper, we would not be expecting those – mostly our views are the sewer hook ups of the RV next to us. However, a premium spot on the water or away from the hustle and bustle is possible.

When considering work, look at a map of the campground and choose a few spots, then ask if those are available, even if for an additional fee. Be humble and you may get more than you originally thought possible. You would have to keep a pristine site in order to keep a premium spot, but it’s worth it!

This is Part One of an extensive look at possible benefits for work campers beyond hourly compensation. Is there something we missed, or is there something you have personally used to get a better work camping package? Let us know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you and sharing in your successful work camping experiences.

See you down the road,

Sam

Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.

Read more articles about Work Camping.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Also ask about the location at which you will be working. Unless you are a camp host, your work station may have very different amenities. Our first WC assignment, we didn’t know any better. Our station was about 25 minute drive along mountain roads, and the rustic mountain museum had no running water and a vault toilet down the trail. We had a gift shop and sold drinks and sundries…all I could think about was that those folks handing me money had no way to wash their hands! lol (I went through a few bottles of hand sanitizer that summer!)

    • Hello bo, yikes! I can relate to the long, sketchy county road leading to a primitive camping environment. I can imagine the first grocery run basket had plenty of sanitizer! Thank you for sharing, I look forward to more of your interesting experiences in the future.

  2. We worked years in a campground in Jackson Hole for about 13 summers, and then another place. We were paid about minimum wages, and ourite, which we lived off, and my pension sat in the bank. Beautiful weather, though cool in spring and fall. We ran the office checking people in, some complaints, mowed and cleaned. Then we went into Tetons to see the animals and views.

    Work where you want to be. Don’t just take a job because it open. Investigate the area and work they will require of you. What’s the pay or site like, do they allow pets, kids? What’s the length of employment. What happens if you leave early or get fired?

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