The best way to keep full time RVing costs in check is to reduce your RV campsite costs. There are several ways to do this: campground memberships, discount programs, boondocking, and campground hosting. I cover the first three in detail in a previous blog post, but today I’m going to share what you need to know about being a campground host.
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So, what is a campground host anyway?
A campground host is a person or a couple that works a certain number of hours per week (anywhere from 20 hours (volunteers) – 40 hours (employees)) at a campground or RV park in exchange for a free campsite.
Hosts working more than 20 hours per week can often get an hourly wage as well.
Campground Host Duties
You can pretty much find a campground host job anywhere in the USA from RV parks, state and national parks, and county parks.
Each park will have a different need they need fulfilled by their campground host(s).
Typically, campground hosts will:
- Clean bathrooms
- Clean campsites
- Register campers
- Answer visitors questions
- Monitor camper activities and report issues/rule breaking to management or rangers
- Work concessions and campground shops
When do you work or volunteer?
Shifts and expected working hours vary by position.
Some campground hosts have set hours and schedules.
Others have very flexible times and allow the campground host to determine their own schedule based on the needs of the campers.
Almost all positions require their hosts be available during weekends and peak camping seasons.
How do you Find Campground Hosting Positions?
If you are looking to work or volunteer in state or national parks, just go to the particular state’s park website, and the national park’s website and search for volunteer positions. Even googling the name of the park and “campground host” or “volunteer” may get you right where you need to go.
Interested in working at a private campground or RV park? Contact them directly and see if they are hiring and what the requirements are.
This website is a really great place to start if you don’t know where to start. The site lists various jobs from all over the USA and Canada. They offer training, informational articles, resume builder, and more. Definitely a good resource for anyone looking for campground hosting and other workamping positions.
Workers on Wheels is a site that lists jobs available throughout the USA and Canada. Wanted ads are updated frequently and post various positions including paid employment, work-for-site exchanges, and volunteer positions.
Can you host if you have children?
The campground or RV park management needs to know you have children.
If you have small children, you need to make sure someone will be available to be care for your children while you are working, just like a regular job.
Some places may allow you to bring your kids with you, but remember you are there to do a job.
We didn’t have any issues bringing our kids along when we were working, but we weren’t responsible for camper registration or answering phones or being in an office.
Our main duties were cleaning bathrooms, campsites, and answering visitors questions.
The kids weren’t in the way when they came along and sometimes had fun helping out (no, our kids did not volunteer or work, they played with the hose, broom, and wore gloves. We did the work. Just wanted to clarify!).
It is definitely possible. You and the RV park/campground will be able to determine whether or not it is possible.
Remember, as a campground host, you will need to be available weekends, holidays, and peak camping season.
Robert works full-time and I work part-time (plus running Exploring the Local Life and caring for the kids) and we were still able to volunteer.
We were responsible for 24 hours per week.
The campground was relatively small and we hosted during the winter in Georgia. Not very many campers come out when it’s freezing outside.
Our last month (March), was a little rough balancing our other jobs and our hosting duties. Campers were coming out in droves due to the perfect weather and we found ourselves running to the bathrooms several times a day involving heavy cleaning.
Pros of Campground Hosting
Zero Camping fees
You get a free campsite. It is often pretty nice and has full hookups. We were campground hosts for 3 months and that saved us about $1300!!
Helping Fellow Campers
There is nothing quite like helping others and campground hosting gives you that opportunity.
Behind the Scenes Extras
As a campground host, you will get to experience the park/campground in a unique way. You will have access to areas restricted to visitors (some cool, like the ability to explore long closed off-trails and some lame things, like the maintenance closet).
Access to Cool Stuff
Utility Vehicle, yes for picking up garbage and distributing wood, but still very cool and fun to drive. It makes the work so much easier, especially during inclement weather or when you are not feeling 100%
New Found Appreciation For Others
I will never frown when walking into a dirty bathroom again. After being responsible for one for 3 months, I now know that it takes just one person to trash a bathroom and the person cleaning the bathrooms may not know until they arrive hours later.
Cons of Campground Hosting
You are stationary for months at a time
Hosting positions typically run for 3-6 months. During that time you must remain at the campground. You can, of course, explore the area, but you cannot overnight somewhere else. In addition, you must be available on the weekends and peak times.
You are working
This is obvious, but I must emphasize that you will need to be outside or working when the weather is bad.
You may be the one that has to unclog the toilet(s) and empty the nasty, nasty trash.
Ah yes, even if you are only responsible for cleaning the campsites, you will quickly find out that some people do not respect nature or follow rules. You will find trash in fire pits and strewn about the campground.
Some campers will not respect that you are not “on-duty” 24hrs… When the gates close at 10pm, that’s it, the gates close at 10 pm. You are not a gate concierge at 1 in the morning. Park it outside the gate and get your car in the morning!
Campground Hosting in Georgia State Parks
Our 3 Month Campground Hosting Experience:
Finding Volunteer Positions
You can find Georgia State Park volunteer positions via this link. The site described some of the expected duties for various position listing and openings and available dates.
Background Check & Registration
A background check is required for all volunteers. As an applicant, you are required to pay for the check ($15/ applicant). The check is valid for 3 years.
Volunteers also have to register yearly and the cost is $15/per applicant.
When we first applied we only paid for the background check, there was not an additional fee to register.
Do we Plan on Campground Hosting Again?
Yes, we do plan on campground hosting in the future, but not right now.
While we had a good experience, we did stretch ourselves a bit thin. The next time we volunteer, we will do when our kids are little older and independent and maybe one or both of us isn’t working other jobs.
It is a great way for to save money, have endless campfires, and be able to gaze at a beautiful lake whenever we want.
Campground hosting is not for anyone, but it can be a really fantastic way to save money while on the road. Some RVers are serial campground hosts, making their way across the country one campground at a time.
So, do you think you will try campground hosting? Let us know what you think!