Have you ever consider workamping as a campground host?

It took us 2 years of full-time RVing to seriously consider our first workamping experience. While getting a free campsite caught our attention, we were fully aware that it would mean hard work. And by hard work we mean unappealing. Think: early mornings and occasional late nights.

Still, the lure of a free site on a beautiful lake, abundant trees and mountain views was too much to resist. After we discussed the advantages and disadvantages, we decided to try out workamping.

In addition to a full hookup site, beautiful views, and all the firewood we could handle for 3 months, we learned a lot about being campground hosts.

Here’s our top 5 lessons learned: 

1 – Workamping doesn’t really mean “free” anything

We received our “free” full hookup campsite in exchange for providing the following services as workampers:

workamping as campground host

-Cleaning the bathhouse: men’s and ladies rooms with showers, toilets, urinals, garbage cans and sinks. Leaf blowing, cleaning the floors and walls.

-Cleaning and continuously monitoring all 36 campsites for garbage, downed branches, leaks or frozen pipes.

-Being the on-site campground points of contact for the state park rangers.

-Being the “face” of the campground and answering questions from campers, fishermen, and curious visitors.

-Contacting local police if campers or visitors got out of hand!

Of course, we did not pay a fee for our site. But some days had us rethinking the whole endeavor!

The campground wasn’t small, and the bathhouse could sometimes be a real disaster! There were times it took a lot of time to straighten up and disinfect… And let’s not forget those bad weather days. Even if the campers are inside their RVs, workamping must go on! You’ve got chores to tend to and things to check on.

Even in the freezing rain or snow.

2 – People who “love the outdoors” can be very disappointing

Evidently, many people think that a fire ring can be used as a trash can.

But who doesn’t love the smell of burning trash, picking up shards of broken glass, or handling burnt beer cans? And let’s not forget that mystery plastic! Cigarettes are apparently just as good as mulch and other landscaping decor…

While we could never think of just leaving whatever garbage we have around the campsite, you might be surprised that many people do. And it doesn’t stop there. We discovered people also use the floor of the bathroom, the street, or even their own campsites as dumpsters.

I think the nastiest trash were adhesive bandages in the showers…Yikes.

You know you went in wearing that band-aid!

So we learned there are plenty of visitors that think this stuff magically disappears. And it was our workamping job to be the magical fairies to clean it all up!

working as a campground host in georgia
Actual evidence of the workamping magical fairy that cleans up your stuff when you leave.

3 – On the other hand, people can be very kind

So yes, we had to clean up our fair share of garbage. But I can’t tell you the number of people that apologized for asking us questions.

“I’m so sorry to bother you!”
“Sorry for the questions but…”

No worries, people! It’s my job to answer your questions and help you. And let me tell you, answering questions was much more pleasant than cleaning up wet band-aids in the shower!

We were regularly asked what our role was and what our responsibilities were. If you’re going to try your hand at workamping as a campground host, expect that question a lot!

You can also expect “regulars.” The postman and local cyclists that came through the campground to use the facilities were always waving and smiling at us. The park rangers were also super amazing, kind, responsive and understanding. The park rangers were also super amazing, kind, responsive and understanding. Nothing like knowing you have a whole team that is there to help out..

It was really nice to have that little community during our workamp stay. There’s nothing like knowing you have a whole team there to help you out…or plunge the toilets for you.

Speaking of plungers…

4 – Plungers are a workamper’s best friend

jessica from exploring the local life workamps as a campground host
Before I learned about the necessity of plungers in my workamping gig.

Can you believe that before being a campground host, I had no idea how to use a plunger?

I’ll never forget that fateful day.

I was feeling happy and optimistic. It was the first busy day after two cold months of very little activity. In spite of the number of campers staying that weekend I headed to the bathhouse. I was wearing flip-flops and my volunteer shirt. I was so ready to do my job!

Then I smelled it.

It smelled like something had died…in the men’s room.

Then I saw it.

And I immediately ran back to the storage room to get the plunger… Well right after I tried to flush it down first… which of course failed. Thankfully, the toilet didn’t overflow but you know the feeling you get as you watch the level of the nasty brown water rise to the lip of the toilet bowl? Yeah, that.

From then on, I quickly mastered the plunger and it was a good thing too because I used it all week long.

5 – Alcohol prohibited means keep it out of sight

no alcohol allowed at some workamping gigs
Not in my campground, folks.

We were campground hosts at a state park in Georgia.

There were several, very clear, and unambiguous signs inside and outside of the campground prohibiting not just the consumption of alcohol, but on closer inspection of the rules, the possession of it inside camp. Yep, even having it inside of your RV was against the rules.

Most people seemed to take that as a suggestion but thankfully, there weren’t a bunch of drunk people carousing every weekend. But of course, there sure were beer bottles in the bathroom trash cans.

As campground hosts, so long as everyone was happy and got along, we didn’t have reason to look for people drinking. And actually, for an open public space like this campground was, I didn’t actually ever see anyone having a beer or glass of wine!

On the other hand, if the rangers had seen any alcohol whatsoever, they would have immediately had the offenders removed!

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Our experience as campground hosts was very educational and at times a little challenging. Even so,  we definitely appreciated the experience and look forward to doing it again!

If you are interested in learning more about campground hosting, how to find openings, and more about our own experience in Georgia, check out our blog post: “Want a Free Campsite? Become a Campground Host.”

Questions about workamping? Pop them in the comments below!

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We are Exploring the Local Life, an RVing family of four (Robert, Jessica, Daniel, and Nadia) that loves to explore the world around us. Living in our RV full time has helped us experience local life throughout the United States. We are Re-Defining the American Dream on Our Own Terms!

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