Saturday, July 12, 2014

Roadside employment or trade for housing.

Most of my travels are supported by Camp Hosting positions in State, Federal or Private parks and campgrounds.   The usual arrangement is 24 hours work per week for free camping with varying amenities...  Water and electric are usual but not always in Federal Parks.   Some places have free laundry available.   Often I can get free ice and firewood.   In CA at El Mirage Dry Lake I was given a 30' FEMA trailer to live in plus $35/day per diem pay.   T?hat was super. 

Every state has a state park "Get Involved" link.  There are many positions out there but the one I focus on is Camp Host.   Here are other places you can do your own research:

Department of Agriculture <<<
Bureau of Land Management <<<
Corps of Engineers <<<
US Forest Service <<<
National Forest Service <<< <<<
KOA campground jobs <<<
Idaho Parks <<<
Texas State Parks <<<

If you find any link that you think offers opportunities please send it my way.

Things that I keep in mind in selecting positions include:

How much work is required.  This can be difficult to predict, although here's what I found:   KOA and private parks are businesses with profit motives.   They usually are VERY busy and you can expect to put in the required hours hauling wood, working in the store, guiding visitors.   This can be really socially active and great fun but definitely labor intense.   

Federal camps and parks are reallllly casual about their requirements, as are some state parks.  Stephen Foster and  Ocean Pond in FL were very friendly places with plenty to do but not pushy about getting things dome.   Things can change with the seasons, too...  Summer in FL does not have as many volunteers showing up so jobs are plentiful because the snow bird volunteers have departed.   The campgrounds are not as busy in the summer due to the heat.   Fall at a historic site gets pretty busy with arts and music fests.  Each park may have a unique festival some time in the year.   

Photography is something that all my locations have thanked me for.   The rangers and employees hardly have time to get out to take photos or update their websites and facebook pages.  This has been nice for me in gaining brownie points without killing myself with long hours running a weed-whacker.

Space available and amenities:  Being a tent camper, I watch for location FIRST.   What's the footing?  Concrete is no fun as a sleeping pad... much less being able to put tent pegs in the ground...   Gravel isn't much better.

The current design of campsites caters to RV's.   The naturalists in the public sector want the camping activity to stay within the perimeter established by the curbs around each site.   This puts your tent on the gravel and usually in the water.    Stephen Foster State Park sites have not had the gravel upgraded in years so it's all compacted with no drainage.   

Commercial and private campsites (back to the profit motive) also tent to be more cramped.  The KOA in Daytona Beach is really pretty and has a nice gameroom (with food on weekends!) but the sites are like parking spaces at Walmart.   From a tent I can hear every space heater and air conditioner running all night long.  Little Grassy Campground in IL was the same.   Dinner conversations from the RV? next door pretty much wiped out any sense of privacy.

The amenities vary quite a bit.   At Olustee Beach I had access to a storage shed with lights and air conditioning (after I hot-wired the circuits).   This was really nice with the rain lasted four consecutive days...   They provided free unlimited ice but no refrigerator.   

A covered pavillion is always a blessing.   Vogel State Park was the best in this category.  The picnic table was sheltered from the rain (mostly) and falling tics.  Some day I need to invest in a Kelty lightweight canopy.   Rain, wind, blazing sun, bugs...   all can be warded off with some type of day-use shelter.

Wifi is seldom found from campsites in state and fed parks.   KOA was the best in this category, but you may want to check the signal strength at a particular camp site before you get unloaded.   My Verison phone and Verizon Hot Spot have done well for me.  Oddly enough the phone sometimes has a better signal than the not spot... who knows.

Data usage:   My data requirement seems to grow every month...   As much as possible I try to reserve photo uploads and document downloads for when I am at a public WIFI location... Panera Bread, Md D's, the campground office.    I currently have a 14G Verizon plan and I struggle to stay within that.

More later... farm market time.   Travel safe!


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