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RLM
post Feb 26 2009, 08:00 PM
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There has not been much discussion on the website about work camping so I decided to start the topic. I am sure that there are members of the site who do work camping and some that would like to get into it. I suspect that both categories could improve the learning curve for each other.

Some ideas to respond to:

1- Who works for only a free site and who works for the money? Why do you do either?
2- What's the best way to get started?
3- Because of the lack of work camping experience and competition for jobs, does one have to accept the first offer even if it isn't suited for you?
4- How much effort and time does it take to get the idea work camper job? What is involved?
5- Is work camping in a commercial campground preferable to a public one like a national park or forest service?
6- What is your best and worst experience?
7- For those who have work camped, what is the one (one only) valuable piece of advise you could give someone considering it?
8- For those who are just getting into the work camping thing, what's the most annoying aspect of the process?




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DXSMac
post Feb 26 2009, 10:51 PM
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Well, you didn't start a topic about Workamping, you started a topic about WOR CAMPING, and I wanted to know what in the **** that was! laugh.gif

I'm going to be doing some workamping myself! Not paid, just volunteer! In May, I will be doing some computer work for a state park in Washington, and during July through Labor Day I will be volunteering for US Fish and Wildlife in, of all places, KENTUCKY! Hoo boy, this is going to be a LONG way from home. But I'm excited, I have been to Kentucky before, I LOVE Kentucky! And BBears, in case you are reading this topic, now that I am COMMITTED to going to Kentucky, I may still try to make the Flight 93 thing, maybe, maybe not..... I will be working 3 days on, 3 days off. I checked, it's 500 miles to that location, can't do it during a "3 day off" time. When I'm done, I may want to just get the heck home, so still might not make it, will have to see....

I got the Kentucky thing on a "fluke." I went to volunteer.gov and I saw a job announcement in Kentucky that had exactly what I wanted. So, I pitched my resume to that job, even though I didn't really want to go to Kentucky, wanted to stay close to home. I thought my resume would go in a "general" area and I click off states I wanted to work. Well, volunteer.gov doesn't work the same way that workamper.com does, apparently, I actually DID apply for the job in Kentucky, the next day, they called me up, and I said, "Let me think about this......" and I decided, GAS PRICES ARE DOWN, I GOTTA GO!

I can't wait! But I'm also nervous! I have driven back and forth across the country four times in my life, IN A CAR, due to job changes. Didn't bother me. But doing this in an RV??????? NOOOOO!!!!!!! OH MY!!!! I'M NERVOUS!!!!

Now, would you please tell me what WOR CAMPING is????? I'm still wondering......

JJ


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pianotuna
post Feb 26 2009, 11:04 PM
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Hi JJ,

Wor Camping is related to Chinese food! (I'm sure you have had wor wanton soup *grin*) When work camping "goes bad" it means you are "in the soup". Right? Hence Wor Camping. LOL

Just slow down on your long trip and smell the daisy's You will fine!


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DXSMac
post Feb 27 2009, 09:19 AM
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To get back to RLM's original questions.....

QUOTE(RLM @ Feb 26 2009, 06:00 PM) *

Some ideas to respond to:

1- Who works for only a free site and who works for the money? Why do you do either?


I am working for "free site." Why? Well, I feel that I don't have any experience to qualify me for a PAID job, and this is the only way I will GET some experience.

QUOTE
2- What's the best way to get started?


Go to www.workamper.com if you are looking for PAID work. This site carries information on both paid and free. You can participate in the forums without paying for a subscription, but if you pay for a subscription, you get the magazine with workamper ads, and you get an email subscription to a "hotline." You get to put up a resume and employers can look at it.

Also, if you want just volunteer work, another RV'er on here told me about volunteer.gov. At this site, you can volunteer at state and national parks. That is where I got my Kentucky assignment.

Also, check with your own State Dept of Recreation or whatever your state calls it. I signed up with Washington State's [whatever it's called], and I have already gotten four calls. I could only accept one, the other three conflicted with my Kentucky assignment. I felt bad turning them down.

QUOTE
4- How much effort and time does it take to get the ideal work camper job? What is involved?


I signed up with Workamper.com in November, haven't gotten anything from them. But then, I'm kind of picky, about what I want, plus I don't have any experience. Also, I have decided that for me, the "ideal" is one or two month commitments. I don't want to hang out longer than that. The "paid" employers want 6 months, some want a year. Plus, I want to do "Behind the scenes" stuff, like help get computer stuff done. I don't really want to be a camp host, I decided I don't want to deal with, "The neighbors are partying and I can't sleep" stuff.

I signed up with volunteer.gov in early February, got the Kentucky assignment a week later!

I signed up with my own state in late January, by mid February, I had four calls, could only take one.

Ok, one more thing. I toured a lighthouse in Oregon, and the "tour guide" was a workamper who "did the lighthouse circuit." So, I started researching those, and I already have a gig in California for one month in 2010! Plus, I am going to volunteer with a local lighthouse where I live so I can have some "training" for the California assignment. The local lighthouse this year will be a "commute" for me, won't involve workamping.

QUOTE
7- For those who have work camped, what is the one (one only) valuable piece of advise you could give someone considering it?


I am just now getting into this "workamping" stuff, but to me, you will have to try out a lot of different scenarios before you figure out what works for you. Three years ago, I tried out a stint with a "well known tax prep firm," thinking I could do this as a "workamping" thing. Although I love to do taxes, I hated the way that company did business. That experience helped me figure out what I want in workamping.

QUOTE
8- For those who are just getting into the work camping thing, what's the most annoying aspect of the process?


Having to kiss the frogs before you find the prince. Basically, having to go through what you DON'T like until you can figure out what you DO like.

Ok, let's see some other responses to get this back on track after Pianotuna and I kind of "derailed" it. (SORRY RLM!!!!! biggrin.gif )

JJ


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Tallboy
post Feb 27 2009, 11:08 AM
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The wife and I have workamped 7 places. We started using workampernews but after two years, it never helped us to get a job, we dropped getting it. Mainly the wife uses city-data.com to find out what the climate is like and then Trailer Life Directory to make sure the sites are big enough, then calls them up asks for the owner/manager and asks if they hire workampers. If so what do they offer. What jobs are open. What you have for a RV. If they are interested send them a resume. We have a list of questions we ask. To long to put on here, so you can email me at hwyhome@yahoo.com for it if you want it. We also ask for a written agreement. We can make it out or they can. It's just that your on the same page on what your doing and what your getting. Plus how long you are going to be there. We have workamped anywhere from 3 months to 6 months. Some places want longer, but 6 months we feel is long enough. Sometimes to long. rolleyes.gif

We have found two jobs on RVnet.net Plus was workamping at another job and another workamping couple managed a park in Michigan asked if we would come work for them.

We have workamped for just the site, electric, water, sewer, use of anything in the office, laundry money, free propane. Anywhere from 10 to 11 hours each. To all I have written before that includes anywhere from $7. to $10. an hour each and the site is free. And lots of times free food. Hours for pay 25 to 40 hours each. Most of the time got anywhere from 2 to 4 days off per week. Work anywhere from 2 to 8 hours a day.

We have stayed with commerical campgrounds because the deal has always been better.

We only had one place where we had problems with the manager. We had a supervisor, but the manager would always change things on him and tell us to do things different. Almost left that place, but stuck it out. Every place else have loved it. Although where we are now have a neighbor with a barking dog. That is very annoying. blink.gif

My best advice is to try to stay out of the campground politics. Also you aren't managing nor do you own the campground, so don't tell the managers and owners how to run their campground.

For us it's a great way to save money and even make a little money. Be able to travel and see more places at a younger age over working 40 plus hours a week at a job year around with only two weeks a year vacation time. Might have to go back to that some day, but for now enjoying ourselves doing this.
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westernrvparkowner
post Feb 27 2009, 12:26 PM
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From a work camper employer's side of things, here is what we offer, consider and look for. We have always hired our work campers from either referrals from previous work campers, a cold call from someone looking to work camp or an e-mail from a prospective work camper. We do not use workkamper.com or any similar service. We look for people who are flexible in abilities and have a willingness to do what is needed to make the campground operate smoothly. We don't usually have a set criteria for skills. A pleasant attitude goes far. If someone has a long list of things they can't or won't do, they are not a fit for our small business. Unfortunately, cleaning toilets and cabins is a task that we need done, we cannot pay people to only escort people to their sites, or only take reservations or only be our "wifi guru". Our work campers must multi-task. We pay $8.00 per hour and require some hours each week to be worked for the site. We sell all our sites every day during the time we need our work campers, so each site we have occupied by a work camper reduces our revenues by $1500. or so a month. WE feel that there is value having your site provided and having to work a few hours for that site is fair. I have read where some work campers feel this is the campground taking advantage of the work camper. I am sure there are many campgrounds where giving up a site really doesn't cost the campground revenue since they have more sites than paying guests, but that is not the case in our area. Also, if you took a job at Wal-mart or a fast food restaraunt you would get no lodging consideration. We make sure husbands and wives have the same days off and we feel that having people work longer days but fewer days each week gives them more time to enjoy our area. We look for people who want to work camp to suppliment their funds while they are enjoying the attractions in our area, we do not look for people who "just need a job". Our work campers are people who are on vacation, who happen to work.
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abbygolden
post Feb 27 2009, 01:41 PM
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1- Who works for only a free site and who works for the money? I only volunteer.
Why do you do either? Because I like the freedom to walk away if I feel something is not right (FYI - I've never had to do this).

2- What's the best way to get started? Since I've only done state parks, I decided where I wanted to go and then started making phone calls and emails. All was based on the state's web site for Parks and Recreation. Easy to do.

3- Because of the lack of work camping experience and competition for jobs, does one have to accept the first offer even if it isn't suited for you? I didn't have to, although you don't always get the place you may have wanted as your first choice.

4- How much effort and time does it take to get the idea work camper job? I assume you mean ideal as opposed to idea. Anyway, I wouldn't accept one that I didn't think was right for me where I could add value to the camping experience of those who used the cg where I was. What is involved? I'm not sure what you mean by "what is involved."


5- Is work camping in a commercial campground preferable to a public one like a national park or forest service? Some sez yes, some sez no. Me, I prefer state parks.

6- What is your best and worst experience? My best (two) are working at a light house and working at a Chinese museum (both in Oregon). My worst was also in Oregon, working at a park where the staff really was next to worthless and could care less about the volunteers. That wasn't a fun two months and I would've walked away had not my wife reminded me that I had given my word.

7- For those who have work camped, what is the one (one only) valuable piece of advise you could give someone considering it? You really need to be flexible in how you deal with others as many of the campers tend to think you are their mother and should clean up their messes. You also need to be able to adapt to changing situations fairly quickly.

8- For those who are just getting into the work camping thing, what's the most annoying aspect of the process? I really don't think there is anything really bad at first as it is all a nex experience. The "bad" parts MAY come later - hopefully not.
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RLM
post Feb 28 2009, 11:03 AM
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QUOTE(DXSMac @ Feb 26 2009, 08:51 PM) *

Well, you didn't start a topic about Workamping, you started a topic about WOR CAMPING, and I wanted to know what in the **** that was!


That was intendtional. It stands for Working On Road. And if you believe that, I've got some land for sale. smile.gif Anyone know how I can fix that senior moment?
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HappiestCamper
post Feb 28 2009, 11:55 AM
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I originally assumed you wanted to go camping at that TV station in Chicago biggrin.gif
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RLM
post Mar 3 2009, 07:55 PM
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I gather from some of the posts that there is a definite place for those wish to work/volunteer for site only. Itís a first step for those who want to build the resume, shave expenses in visiting a new area, or accommodate an employer who only needs help a few hours a week.

It is also understandable that when some provide their labor they want to get paid for all hours worked. Correct me if Iím wrong, but doesnít that situation become a job as opposed to volunteering? There is nothing wrong with either.

It is interesting that almost everyone indicates that they are looking for a job that is ďright for them.Ē It is also interesting that so many have a unique and preferred method of finding a work camping jobÖ. or an employer has his/her own method for finding the ideal employer. Obviously, expanding the job search horizons is the way to go.

Iím inclined to side with those who might be stuck in a bad situation, but would honor their commitment. However, there has to be a point where the honorable thing to do is overcome by employers who really donít care.

Weíve heard from camp ground owners. But, perhaps it isnít appropriate for a camp ground owner to consider a free site as part of the compensation - with the exception of the utilities that we use while on it. If Iím on a $50/nite site, Iíd suggest that only about $5 of it is utility expenses. Am I wrong in that thinking?


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westernrvparkowner
post Mar 4 2009, 07:38 PM
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QUOTE(RLM @ Mar 3 2009, 08:55 PM) *

I gather from some of the posts that there is a definite place for those wish to work/volunteer for site only. Itís a first step for those who want to build the resume, shave expenses in visiting a new area, or accommodate an employer who only needs help a few hours a week.

It is also understandable that when some provide their labor they want to get paid for all hours worked. Correct me if Iím wrong, but doesnít that situation become a job as opposed to volunteering? There is nothing wrong with either.

It is interesting that almost everyone indicates that they are looking for a job that is ďright for them.Ē It is also interesting that so many have a unique and preferred method of finding a work camping jobÖ. or an employer has his/her own method for finding the ideal employer. Obviously, expanding the job search horizons is the way to go.

Iím inclined to side with those who might be stuck in a bad situation, but would honor their commitment. However, there has to be a point where the honorable thing to do is overcome by employers who really donít care.

Weíve heard from camp ground owners. But, perhaps it isnít appropriate for a camp ground owner to consider a free site as part of the compensation - with the exception of the utilities that we use while on it. If Iím on a $50/nite site, Iíd suggest that only about $5 of it is utility expenses. Am I wrong in that thinking?

RLm, true enough, the utilities on a given site probably do only cost %5.00 or $10.00 per day. That being said, in my park I could rent that site for $50.00 per day each day in my peak season. I sell out every day. Having a work camper in that site costs me $1500.00 in lost revenue. Also, that daily RV guest will spend much more money in the store than the average work camper, so the costs go up even a little more. Finally, not to awaken the 10,000 lb gorilla, but the IRS specifies that housing should be counted as income at fair market value, not cost. If a work camper was to work anywhere but at the campground, they would have to pay the going rate for a place to stay, so a number somewhere between cost and "the going rate" is probably fair to both parties. Just my opinion. Have a great day.
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Butch
post Mar 5 2009, 11:40 AM
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QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Mar 4 2009, 08:38 PM) *

RLm, true enough, the utilities on a given site probably do only cost %5.00 or $10.00 per day. That being said, in my park I could rent that site for $50.00 per day each day in my peak season. I sell out every day. Having a work camper in that site costs me $1500.00 in lost revenue. Also, that daily RV guest will spend much more money in the store than the average work camper, so the costs go up even a little more. Finally, not to awaken the 10,000 lb gorilla, but the IRS specifies that housing should be counted as income at fair market value, not cost. If a work camper was to work anywhere but at the campground, they would have to pay the going rate for a place to stay, so a number somewhere between cost and "the going rate" is probably fair to both parties. Just my opinion. Have a great day.



Just a question....what is the daily pay rate per hour per work camper, and how many hours per week do you require that person to work at your establishment ?


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RLM
post Mar 7 2009, 08:52 PM
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First of all, it is very good to have a work camping employer weigh in on these issues. Ideally, each side will have an appreciation of the otherís concerns.

I do factor in some of the site expense when looking for a paying job. Key word is some. But, if that amount is going to be a part of the compensation package, then it needs to be fair or I can stay somewhere else and collect more daily pay. There is also an issue of not having to pay FICA taxes, or provide health benefits that are common for regular employees.

I suspect that one of the reasons that work campers are in demand is that it is a financial benefit for the camp ground employer. If that is a true statement, then the work camper is in control of his or her desires.


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westernrvparkowner
post Mar 9 2009, 08:29 PM
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QUOTE(RLM @ Mar 7 2009, 09:52 PM) *

First of all, it is very good to have a work camping employer weigh in on these issues. Ideally, each side will have an appreciation of the otherís concerns.

I do factor in some of the site expense when looking for a paying job. Key word is some. But, if that amount is going to be a part of the compensation package, then it needs to be fair or I can stay somewhere else and collect more daily pay. There is also an issue of not having to pay FICA taxes, or provide health benefits that are common for regular employees.

I suspect that one of the reasons that work campers are in demand is that it is a financial benefit for the camp ground employer. If that is a true statement, then the work camper is in control of his or her desires.

RLM, I do pay FICA tax and unemployment insurance on my work camping employees. If I were to pay "cash under the table" I would be putting both myself and my work camper into jeopardy with our friends at the IRS. It is much easier for me to run my campground from the office than it would be from Government housing at Leavenworth.
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RLM
post Mar 16 2009, 08:32 PM
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QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Mar 9 2009, 06:29 PM) *

RLM, I do pay FICA tax and unemployment insurance on my work camping employees. If I were to pay "cash under the table" I would be putting both myself and my work camper into jeopardy with our friends at the IRS. It is much easier for me to run my campground from the office than it would be from Government housing at Leavenworth.


Being ex-military, I know that you wouldn't qualify for the housing at Leavenworth regardless of the infraction. smile.gif

I would have considered work campers as contract employees and thereby not subject to FICA and/or any other "government" BS. The term volunteer lends itself to a possible exemption to those requirements. Even Uncle Sam uses that loop hole so as not to pay FICA or withhold taxes from a volunteer's pay. I've been in that situation so can valid it's truth.

There's a cap on annual earnings that effect social security. I consider that when applying for a work camper job where it may come into effect if the employer reports everything. Now I'm not advocating any "under the table" deals, but using contract employees would seem appropriate.

Witholding taxes means a more complicated tax return for a retiree not to mention your own extra bookkeeping.

Workman's comp is a no brainer for someone in business and that cost is one that everyone should consider a part of the compensation.

But your comment is enlightening. If I were to do work camping duties for you, I'd want nothing to do with FICA, tax withholding, etc. A bookeeping benefit to both of us by the way. Are you telling me that isn't possible?
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