Sunday, October 2, 2022


Should you tip campground workers?

I’ll admit it. I am not a good tipper. I think it’s mostly because I never know how much to tip. I’m not good at figuring math inside my head and can never remember if tips should be 15%, 25%, or 35% of any given bill. I never worked as a waiter/waitress either, so I have no idea how the hourly-plus-tips arrangement works. So, I defer to my husband. He more than makes up for my deficiency. So, here’s our conundrum: Do you tip campground workers?

Should you tip these types of campground workers?

  • Site guide. The person who leads you to your campsite and helps you park your rig (if you want or need assistance). On occasion, we’ve really relied on our site guide. Like times when we’ve pulled into a new-to-us campground in the dark. Or when our assigned site is narrow with big rigs already parked all around our spot. I remember one especially tricky parking challenge where the guy more than deserved a tip! But because I was a nervous wreck by the time we finally got our RV situated, tipping never entered my mind.
  • Office help. There’s the gal at the office desk who arranged for us to move to a vacated spot in the shade. It was hot and extremely humid. Extremely. Humid. And hot. That’s usually no problem, but our air conditioner wasn’t working. At the time, the campground’s pool was closed due to COVID, and we were miserable! The office gal heard about our plight and approached us with the idea of moving once the current site holders moved on down the road. Of course, we jumped at the chance to have some shade. This kind woman’s thoughtfulness saved our vacation that year. Did we tip? Erm, well … no. (We said “Thanks so much!” Does that count?)
  • Over-the-top service. Then there was the worker who saw us fiddling with our propane tanks. We realized that both tanks were nearly empty. As we discussed what to do since the farm supply store (the only source of propane in the area) was closed for the day, the guy brought an “extra” full tank for us to use—for free! We returned the tank—minus the propane we’d used—when we left the following day. The guy happily waved as we drove off. Don’t even ask. No, we didn’t tip. We offered our genuine and effusive thanks, of course, but no money exchanged hands.

You’re probably thinking one of two things—either “Tip at a campground? Never heard of such a thing.” Or “What cheapskates!” But here’s the thing: I’ve never seen anyone tip or attempt to tip the campground workers. Never. Most times the parking helper rides off in the golf cart before I can reach for my purse. I know many campground workers volunteer and receive a “free” RV site as payment, so do they hope for tips to compensate monetarily? I simply don’t know.

To tip or not to tip?

Maybe you have some insight for us. Perhaps you’ve worked or volunteered at a campground and can tell us what’s expected as far as a tip. If you’ve tipped a campground worker, I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments below or hop on over to my forum and we’ll continue this discussion. Also, please vote in the poll below.

How much is an appropriate tip if there’s no formal “bill” from which to figure a tip amount? Is tipping expected in the places you’ve visited? Is leaving a tip a relatively new thing for campgrounds in general? Or did I miss the memo about tipping? I’m eager to hear your opinions!

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7 months ago

I currently own a campground. My husband and I escort every camper to their site. Some folks have offered a tip. As far as we’re concerned it’s part of the charm, so we decline and ask for a review instead. They’re more than happy to oblige.

7 months ago

Some restaurants are moving from tips.
From an online search of Tom Colicchio who is well known of his tipping philosophy:
Tom Colicchio, who is also lead judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” reality show, says the reaction from diners has been positive. “Everybody’s fine. There’s been very little pushback at all.”

As a reason for the change, Colicchio cited research into tipping behavior that examined the correlation between the service people report receiving and the tips they give.

“We know through studies at Cornell University that the amount of money left in a tip has very little do with service, it has more to do with your accent, your race or your gender,” he said. “So, I’d prefer to compensate my staff.”

I don’t understand why people think they should be rewarded for simply doing their job or even more than their job. One earned promotions by going above and beyond. It is called advancement by merit.

7 months ago

I have owned a campground for many years. My husband and I are the only workers and we work our tails off. We consistently offer help and have cookouts when we can so all campers are welcome to get to know each other. I definitely don’t feel it is necessary to tip because we want everyone to feel like family. When a campground truly cares, a positive comment, thank you, and encouragement via reviews is more than enough to make them feel their hard work is appreciated and noticed. Most will always spend extra at the gift shop but most importantly is the fact guests want to return. That is worth more than tips to us!

7 months ago

Hi, so I have been in both positions office and working grounds. All that should be looked at is” if that person/place is your liking and you are happy,then it’s your choice,but just being told how well you do /doing is a nice feeling also.

Lexi's Mom
7 months ago

I always keep a few $5.00 DQ gift cards handy. When someone looks like they might need a “pick me up” or when I appreciate something they have done, I give one away. Who doesn’t like an ice cream treat!!

Ben Jansen
7 months ago

Campground owner here: we do not promote tipping, but we highly encourage it whenever a guest is really moved by the level of service a staff person provides – when people offer them through me (onsite owner operator), I note the reason, put it in an envelope and present it to the staff with appreciation specifics so they can get a thorough acknowledgement. We are a “campground resort” which means we provide propane sales pickup and delivery, wood delivery, and other kindnesses that are only barely covered by the nightly rate, and staff appreciate when they get tips for making a guest feel extra special.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
7 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jansen

Thanks, Ben. For those of you who are curious, here’s the campground’s website: Lots of great reviews, BTW. (I looked it up to put it in here. Ben has no clue I’m doing this. 😉 ) Keep up the good work, Ben, and have a great day. 😀 –Diane

7 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jansen

Ben, you are selling the propane and wood? The costs are covered in your fees. How is this a “kindness” when it is paid for by guests?

Since when does “making a guest feel extra special” become extraordinary? Isn’t that what we want from our staff at all times to all guests?

What bothers me about tipping is the affluent can afford to tip and then expect and get extra service? I would rather the overworked parents get those extra “kindnesses”.

I am sure you have a lovely campground. However, I would rethink your “highly encourage” tipping policy.

7 months ago

I’m a volunteer host with USFS at a small camp ground. I’ve helped people put up tents, given plentiful advice on things to do. Never got a tip. Never expected one.

7 months ago

We need to get away from the notion that we as customers should be helping employers compensate their employees. If they cannot afford to pay an adequate wage they have a failed business model.

7 months ago

Not tipping anyone. This is ridiculous

Tracy Barnett
7 months ago

Having been a workamper at a KOA for the past 5 summers, I never expected a tip to do my job. All of the situations you described were considered to be good customer service. Occasionally someone would leave a tip in a cabin but that was rare and never expected. I even found some forgotten hiking boots left behind and mailed them to their owner. It made me feel good to do it. Again, good customer service.

7 months ago

I think in a situation where the staff go over and beyond what is expected I would be sure tip, either with cash or a gift card. Chances are they are working at or near minimum wage and it might help them a lot. Additionally, it might pay things forward to the next camper who needs some additional help.

7 months ago

Yes we tip the maintenance person in the park where we spend the winter but is not money but a homemade apple pie

Roy Davis
7 months ago

I hadn’t even considered tipping campground workers. As a volunteer at a campground for several seasons I told people no thank you when someone offered me a tip. I would say, “I find joy helping others.” To me, a tip diminishes the joy of helping someone out. Did you know that in several European countries tipping is considered demeaning and an insult?

7 months ago
Reply to  Roy Davis

I completely agree. Not everything is about money.

7 months ago

My wife and I were campground owners for a number of years and we employed Work Campers every year. We told the workers what was expected of them in their job and they knew it was part of their job. If guests needed help (backing in, finding their site, etc.) they knew it was part of their job and did it without asking. If they wanted to earn money assisting customers with repairs when off duty that was fine with us, it was up to the Workers to decide how much to charge but they were instructed to inform the customer the repair was not part of their job and they were acting on their own.

7 months ago

We had a problem with our jacks and the maintenance man came and found the problem. I went to the nearest Walmart and got him a $50 card for going above and beyond.

7 months ago

You sir…are a generous RV owner, most not! My wife and I always provide compensation to people deserving. Many RV owners, maybe most, should appreciate that five bucks you forward to good or great assistance ! Next visit to this CG you may find your reception goes easily and service extends for the future.

7 months ago
Reply to  Clayobx

Screw that, everywhere I go now they always ask if I’d like to tip. I get a 3 dollar coffee in a drive thru at Dutch Bros so would .45 cents be okay? It’s getting annoying that this is the new hustle.

Steve Baldwin
7 months ago

Tip when the service is over and above what you expected. Tip what you think it is worth to you.

7 months ago

Yes, I have tipped a worker on occasion. Handing those heavy gas bottles is a big help to me so I have tipped when they offer to load them up and install them in my camper. Also, my wife loved to bake cookies. It’s not unusual for her to drop off a plate full of cookies to the office staff. Maybe not a tip in the traditional sense but they are usually greatly appreciated.

7 months ago

Absolutely. However, keep in mind that the greedy corporate world has tried to purchase many of the campgrounds out there and their rules say that workers are not allowed to accept tips. I was working 14 hour days as the office manager making $42,000 a year in NJ. I could not live on my own making that amount. Your tips matter. I would bend over backwards to please guests. I loved the business but my value was not seen and I was severely under paid. Make sure you tip. It’s just like staying at a hotel.

7 months ago
Reply to  Dania

$42,000. That is a pretty high pay around me. I would love to get paid that.
We camp because it is the cheapest vacation we can take. That is not cheap with rates anymore.😔

7 months ago
Reply to  DLW

In New Jersey. Sadly 42k a year is not going to be near enough to live

Ernie Powell
7 months ago

Had NO need to my wife helps me for everything we need to do

7 months ago

We arrived one year days after a hurricane had hit our camp. The workers were cleaning up, repairing, replacing just about everything. They worked from sun up to sundown while we enjoyed our vacation. On the last day I took $50 and gave it to the crew thanking them for making my vacation wonderful despite a major hurricane. I encouraged everyone around us to do the same. The crew loves to see us pull in since if nothing else we always thank them for their hard work

Sherry Shay
7 months ago
Reply to  Michele

Michele, that is just plain awesome!!!

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