The business of work camping – How work campers can help relieve our National Parks crisis

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By Sam Suva

With criminal acts of vandalism and theft rampant in national parks across the U.S., as well as staff shortages, I would like to take a moment and consider some ways to be involved in working for or volunteering at a national park. Damage, theft and littering have been reported at Joshua Tree – cutting down trees, Yellowstone in the hot pools, Death Valley and even the Washington Monument.


If you are considering work camping, volunteering is an ideal way to begin. It is the best part of work camping, because giving our best without concerns of wages, just being in a natural environment with those who really appreciate this national treasure, unhooks us from the pursuit of things and connects us with creation’s marvels. Let’s review the potential work available on volunteer, paid part-time or full-time, and permanent opportunities at a national park.

The National Park Service has many ways to apply to work permanently or seasonally. A camper can be an officer, a volunteer, a citizen scientist, a photographer/artist, amateur biologist, tour guide or work with the scouting program. Some other positions available are gardener, forestry technician, firefighter, landscape architect, park guide and administration. These positions are fulfilling and satisfying.

To work for the National Park Service one needs to fill out an online application similar to a standard job application. This can be done online at the link(s) below. No need to worry about qualifications – each job availability has the description for what is required to fulfill the obligations of the position. Some positions require a resume, veteran information and a questionnaire. Others are online with a step-by-step process. The application outlines the applicant’s work history and documents personal information. Depending on the position, there could be a background check as well. You may be asked to either:

  • Send an electronic resume and fill out supporting forms
  • Fill out an online application

Once hired on, the possibilities are endless! A worker can apply to any of more than 400 national parks and museums across the nation and its territories such as Guam. That’s a lot of ground to cover and a great way to see the road while performing a vital task.

If you are unable to work at a national park but are planning to visit a national park, please consider taking along additional garbage bags and save some room to pack out garbage you may find. If we all take out one bag of garbage when we visit, we will make a substantial difference in preserving our heritage. Please make sure that you let any staff know what you plan to do. Also, let us know in the comments the condition of the national park you may have visited recently as well as what efforts you may have put forth to discourage vandalism and littering, including cleaning up.

Thank you for reading this article. If it encourages just one person, it will make a difference … and we CAN make a difference.

Here are the links mentioned above:

• Article from Forbes.com: National Parks Getting Trashed, Vandalized During Government Shutdown.
National Park Service: Seasonal Hiring: Frequently Asked Questions.
USAJOBS.gov, National Park Service.
Volunteer events, National Park Service.
Volunteer.gov.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below or contact me at samsuvarv(at)gmail.com .

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.

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claudio claudio

Hi,i am a Canadian citizen and will be semi retiring in a year,i intend to keep a job during the spring ,summer,fall and do the snowbird in the cold months,i get restless and am very good fixing multiple things ,being bilingual also helps me communicate with people ,my question is ,as a Canadian citizen can I workamp?