What’s it like to be a camp host?

Wednesday, February 10

“Oh, what a beautiful morning!  Oh, what a beautiful day! . . . .”

P1090486Mojave dawn

I stick forty dollars into my pocket.

I toss Bridget and Reggie into the Perfect Tow Vehicle and we motor across the flat desert. Over a sandy wash we go and turn in to park at the camp host site.  We’re way overdue with our payment for a two-week permit at Midland’s Long Term Visitor Area, Blythe, California.

The camp host couple has a picnic table outside their RV.  It’s set up with the paperwork for selling permits.

First thing after hello, I apologize for being late.

“I have a knack for missing you!  I can’t see if you’re home or not from where we’re camped.”

We settle in at the table in the warm sunshine and chat while filling out the permit.

P1090487Green fields on both sides of Midland Road, northwest of Blythe

“Do you want to be a camp host?”

The camp host proceeds to inform me of an opening.  The Bureau of Land Management is looking for a resident host for Coon Hollow Campground for the next season.

“I’m not interested, but maybe someone who reads my blog will be,” I reply.

Where is Coon Hollow Campground?

Remember when the crew and I went over to Wiley’s Well LTVA?  Well, Coon Hollow is up the road, further into the desert, from Wiley’s Well and it, too, is a Long Term Visitors’ Area.  Rockhounding is one of the attractions of the area.  Also exploring the Bradshaw Trail through the Mule Mountains.

Ever wonder what a camp host does?

The following is an excerpt from the BLM website regarding the camp host position at Coon Hollow:

“Duties:  The LTVA host position involves greeting visitors and providing them information regarding travel directions, use of facilities, campground regulations, and recreational opportunities.  Tasks include monitoring facilities and checking for compliance with rules and regulations pertaining to parking, campfires, noise levels, sanitation and safety; and collection of fees..  Minor maintenance of campground and facilities may be required if needed between weekly maintenance crew rounds.  Problems or possible violations will be brought to the attention of visitors and supervisor.  Daily visitor use data will be collected and recorded.

P1090322Qualifications:  Volunteers must be energetic, self-motivated, customer service oriented and possess good communications skills to present a positive public image of the BLM. Must feel comfortable working independently in back country areas, and be able to read and interpret maps. Initial and additional training provided as needed.

This is a seasonal position that begins on September 15 and ends on April 15 of each year. BLM will waive permit fees and provide reimbursement of incidental expenses of $7 per day.  Cell phone coverage is available within the area, depending on service provider.”

Check out this webpage from DesertUSA to learn more about Coon Hollow Campground and also the BLM webpage for Mule Mountain/Coon Hollow.

Note this very important clause in the qualifications:

“Must feel comfortable working independently in back country areas.”

You can say that again.  Coon Hollow is way out there. This isn’t a job for someone unfamiliar with the desert or for a newbie to camping.

Anyway . . . I may have some desert rat readers who would like to try this camp host job.  I also think it’s interesting to see the list of duties for a camp host, as well as the pay —  a free campsite (value: $180) plus $7 a day.

P1090473A narrow wash near our campsite

Share what you know.

If you have experience as a camp host or if you are thinking about taking on a camp host position, I encourage you to open up comments and participate in a discussion.

What’s it like to be a camp host?

What do you like about camp hosting?  What are the negatives?  Do you have advice for someone looking for a hosting position?

P1090479Campsite view after sunset, Midland LTVA

I don’t think I mentioned this about the LTVA.

Either it slipped my mind or my mind slipped on it.  Whatever the case, the chat with the camp host brought to my attention something that may be attractive for those of you who travel north-south routes, to and from Yuma, for instance.

P1090490Palm trees at house on Midland Road, Big Maria Mountains in background

You can stay at Midland for two nights for free!

That’s perfect when you need a stop-over.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like one-night stop-overs.  Some people drive, stay overnight, drive, stay overnight, and so forth and then reach their destination all worn out.  It seems to me that having at least one day off the road after each leg of a journey is a more enjoyable pace.  That’s one of the joys of retirement!

Those two free nights at Midland are a good deal!

The camp host says, “People camping over the river near Quartzsite start to go crazy after a while, so they come over here for a few days and then go back.”  We laugh.

Any comments, camp hosts and camp host wannabes?

rvsue

NOTE:  For those of you who are unfamiliar with opening up comments, simply click on the word “comments” in the tag line below or click on the title of this post, “What’s it like to be a camp host?”

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133 Responses to What’s it like to be a camp host?

  1. Jeff from va says:

    First

  2. Velda says:

    Morning all ( well morning for 6 more minutes)?

  3. Renee Galligher - Idaho says:

    Hey! Closer this time.

  4. Cheryl O. says:

    I’d like to learn more about camp hosting since I’m a newbie. Cute pic of Reggie. I saw a dog recently that looked like him. His name was Dave. lol

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cheryl O.,

      I hope those with camp host experience will take the time to write. You can read job duties and descriptions and still not have a complete picture of what it’s like. Some folks love camp hosting.

      I met a couple from the mid-west who found a camp hosting job in the Wyoming mountains and returned there every year for 20 years or so. If they read this blog (Joe and Betty), I hope they will tell us why they like camp hosting.

      • Cheryl O. (WA state) says:

        Cool! I was born in Wyoming. Didn’t stay long, so would like to know more about what sights and places to see and stay at.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Some of my favorites which you may know from reading old posts:

          The Falls, The Pinnacles at Brooks Lake, boondock on Boulder Lake near Pinedale, boondock in Absarokas near Dubois, Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander…

          Love Wyoming!

          Favorite places to camp in Wyoming. . . .anyone?

          • Renee Galligher - Idaho says:

            Us too! We spent two weeks last year there with our fifth wheel. We started out at Falls CG, spent the first few days there off the Togwotee Pass. Then on to Greybull at a KOA (not one of my favorites, but we toured the Bighorns from there scoping out other CG’s too). From Greybull we went on to Buffalo Bill State Park outside of Cody. We stayed at a dry site at the end, by ourselves. It was nice. We have solar so we don’t require hookups, but they did have them. From there we toured the Chief Joseph scenic byway, then on to Yellowstone for our umpteenth trip there. We stayed at Baker’s Hole CG, outside the park, again a dry site right on the Madison River. There are sites with electricity there, but we didn’t require it. We could hear the elk bugling in the early morning and wolves howling at dusk from our site! We’ve visited The Pinnacles CG off of Togwotee pass, but didn’t stay there. We often drive around in an area we are camped just to check other possibilities for future camping. I’ll have to check out the boondock areas in the Absarokas near Dubois. Thanks, Sue!

  5. Cinandjules (NY) says:

    Very interesting as well as informative post.

    Often wondered what type of folks apply to be a camp host.

    Love the flyin dirt of reg man’s backhoe! Did Ms Bridgee sleep in?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      That photo of Reg was taken on a late afternoon walk while Bridget stayed inside the BLT, relaxing on the bed. She will walk with us in the mornings mostly. Reggie and I save the long walk for afternoon when Bridget doesn’t want to go.

      Wondering what type of folks apply to be a camp host? Well, I can tell you what type of folks don’t apply! Ha!

      BTW, I looked for the hearing aids you ordered and found them. Thanks for thinking of me and the crew!

      • Jean/Southaven, MS says:

        Funny, I think I am the kind that would not apply also

      • Cinandjules (NY) says:

        Oh I hear you loud and clear! When it came to the “warm and fuzzy” prerequisite…I was like oh well so much for that!

        Surely from the remoteness of the area…it will take a special person with special traits!

        In re to the batteries…like I mentioned…they really won’t help him, as he has selective hearing….but I know you appreciate it.

  6. Jack Spratter says:

    Greetings:

    I think that your right hand sidebar looks very nice. However, I have not seen the Site meter for some time now.

    I am still near Tombstone, AZ. I received a “special” assignment in the Big Bend, TX area, so I will be in that National Park for several months. For those who do not know, Big Bend NP is the least visited NP in the lower 48 States. They also have very dark nightly skies because of the lack of light pollution.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jack,

      Thanks re the sidebar. Sitemeter went bonkers several months back, not only on my site. It wasn’t the first time. I noticed the numbers recorded by Sitemeter didn’t match the numbers recorded by Jetpack on my WordPress platform, so I dropped Sitemeter.

      At present my stats show 3,085,874 views and over 70,000 comments.

      Congratulations on landing the assignment at Big Bend!

      • Jack Spratter says:

        Greetings: Now I remember–you did mention that the site meter went nuts some posts back–I had forgotten.

        Believe it or not, my “special assignment” will be as photographer.

    • edlfrey says:

      Big Bend seems to take great pride in saying that they are the least visited but it is not true. In 2015 Isla Royal National Park (MI) had 18,684 visitors, North Cascades National Park (WA) 20,677 and Great Basin National Park (NV) at over 100,000 had less than a third of the 381,747 that visited BIBI (as those in the know like to call it).

      Enjoy your ‘special assignment’ in one of the lesser visited National Parks in the lower 48 states.

    • Victoria says:

      My son and I visited Big Bend in January a few years ago. Very special place. Spectacular skies 🙂 Do you have a blog or website that your photos can be viewed on? Good on you – excellent special assignment!

  7. Marilu from Northern California says:

    “I’ve got a beautiful feeling everything’s going your way…” The lyrics have been running through my mind as I read your post?. Very appropriate for your lifestyle! We’ve talked about being camp hosts but the best thing about rving is being able to throw some things in the rig and move when the urge strikes. Lots of hosts we’ve talked to think it’s a good way to go though. Different strokes for different folks.
    I just ordered an awning replacement from your Amazon link. Very easy and it should be here in a week.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the Amazon order, Marilu! I’ll look for the awning on my reports.

      Some folks host as a way to save money (keeps them from traveling) for a few months. I think others might like it after a few years of traveling, when they feel like slowing down or maybe they miss the “community” feeling. I don’t know.

      We need to hear from camp host people… 🙂

      LATER…. I see the awning! Nice fabric!

  8. Hey Sue, going crazy over looking at full timer rv insurance.
    Who do you like and maybe some here can chime in too.
    Thanks, hi everyone.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, jan now at roosevelt lake,

      I have GEICO. That doesn’t mean it’s the best. I signed up with them almost 5 years ago and haven’t changed.

      Anyone? Comments about full timer RV insurance?

    • edlfrey says:

      Coverage by Allied through Miller Insurance agency. They claim to know the RV Life Style and do offer coverage for every Recreational Vehicle you can imagine. I have had one claim which was settled reasonably quick, they never do so as quickly as we would like, and had only one screw up which was partially my fault.
      Note: Pay attention to the paperwork.

  9. Linda from Oregon says:

    Each camp host position is totally different. Some have 30 hour weeks at $10 hour and include a full hook up site, and others just include a site. You have everything in between. We have been hosts in two locations. While there are benefits there are major disadvantages to be aware of. One is isolation. When you are the host you also are the sheriff, tour guide, ticket taker, and paramedic. If you are lucky you might see an ambulance in an hour after a call. We have been awakened at 12 pm because a girlfriend cut her finger and needed a band aid. You might also have to sell wood or assign reserved sites, have to direct large trailers into tiny spaces. Often you have to deal with people who have been coming for years and want everything to stay the same for their family. We have received pies and been invited to dinners, gotten to know nice people. Being alone means your day starts at 6am and can go until 10:30 when you might be requested to do a walk around for quiet time. We were also warned about the August madness where campers become so intent on making the last of their summer vacation great they get crazy violent.

    It was a good way to have a camping spot in your favorite location but we found several things would make a better position. 1) If the position lasted for two months it would be better than four. After two months most full timers are ready for a change. 2) Sharing the time with another couple. This allows for a day off together to actually see the sights where you are working. 3) Make sure you have contact with the outside world. Many times we had to hike up the hill to call an ambulance or tow truck.

    If you get there and find that what you were told on the phone isn’t true then run and find another position. When we arrived at one position and questioned why we were told we would have x hours, 3 days off together, and wages, the manager said, “I just told you that to get you here.”

    Many people love camp hosting. We are glad we did it for two seasons but we like to be on our own schedule, our own boss and move when we want so will not be doing it again. Remember each position is totally different and what doesn’t work for some might be perfect for you so look into it.

    • JIM PETERSON says:

      I agree with you Linda. I think they expect a lot for no more than they pay. The LTVA position featured here by RV Sue only pays $7 dollars a day — the free LTVA pass works out to less than $1 a day. I wouldn’t be adverse to a little extra income but I’m pretty sure there are easier ways to get it. :o) We value our daily freedom more than that. Some folks are content to park in one place and be stuck there for seven months but that sounds f-a-r too much like that WORK thing we retired from 3-1/2 months ago. As in all things, different strokes for different folks.

      I think your ideas about splitting the responsibility between two couples, etc. are good ones. Obviously they’re able to get enough volunteers doing it the way they’re doing it already so it’s not likely much will change any time soon on that front. Our friends are younger and have to earn their way as they go. They’ll be working all this summer in the Grand Tetons — working fulltime with a full wage, free spot with hookups, etc. Supposedly the benefits at a place like that *can* exceed the income. For example, a white-water raft trip costs $300 for everyone else but for them it will be FREE. Their plan is to work the season (two weeks before Memorial Day thru two weeks after Labor Day) and make enough to live without having to work the rest of the year — taking their retirement in small doses NOW while they have youth and good health on their side.

    • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

      Question: if the host(s) requirement is 30 hours a week, how do the long hours come into it? If they want me to be “on call” all the time, the rates are going up sharply. If I’m actually working 30 hours a week, I’ll have time to relax, go into town, etc.

      • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

        Additional question: I have worked a freeway rest area, primarily cleaning restrooms and emptying trash cans, with a little mowing and what not. I enjoyed that. From some of the comments I’ve read on RV sites, others don’t. Could a person make a specialty of that?

  10. We have talked about being camp hosts, but I think the longest I would want to stay would be 2 months…maybe 1 month, but not out in the boon docks…give me a really nice national park on the Oregon coast and I will be happy.

  11. Jolene/Iowa says:

    Hi Sue,

    I worked as a camp host for 5 + years in a privately owned campground. If I remember right I either got my site free or my elec. BUT I was doing the bathrooms too. Mine was just part time.

    I answered phones when I was on duty, RV’s that came in I showed them their spot and helped them get into their spot if needed. One time that meant helping in pouring down rain for 45 minutes. I did this from my RV. We put a sign on the office door of where to find our RV, then I had a sign out front and the office phone was transferred to my phone. Basically an ambassador for the park. Answered questions on the phone and in person and handled what I could as they came up while I was on duty and contacting the owner for issues that couldn’t wait that I couldn’t take care of.

    Then I was also in cleaning the park bathrooms as that time. We all know what is involved there and let me tell you that was very disgusting some days and no offense guys, the men’s was always the worst.

    I enjoyed doing it. I am a people person and loved talking to people. We had people that would be back several times a year and we always looked forward to connecting with each other when they were back.

    I was a stay at home housewife at the time so this was a perfect job for me. We were living fulltime but in this same park the whole time. My ex was still working fulltime in the area.

  12. Jack Spratter says:

    I should also comment that those interested in a campground host position such as in Coon Hollow BLM must be 100% contained as far as black & grey water. Also, depending upon the water table depth, there may be no water at that campsite. Of course, there is also no electricity. However, if you have solar panels (like I do), you may thoroughly enjoy cutting your teeth being a campground host there. Please understand however, that when you run out of water, you will probably need to drive with trailer in tow into town or a Flying J truck stop and fill up with water again.

    Also note, that you may encounter some wild people (RVSue excluded, of course) in these areas.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for pointing that out, Jack. There are details at the BLM website… Yeah, you may encounter wild people and wildlife, although the folks at Wiley’s Well seemed pretty calm and normal.

      There is water at Wiley’s Well but it was signed as non-potable when we visited. Yep, it’s a way of life that most people don’t find attractive, while a few do. I asked the camp host at Wiley’s Well about water and groceries and she said campers make a once-a-week drive into Blythe for what they need. There is a dump station — I think it’s between the two campgrounds.

  13. Linda from Oregon says:

    Camping means different things to different campers. Camp hosting meant that you had to be the go between those who ran a generator all night to keep the wife warm and think camping means loud music and lots of drinking, and those who believed camping should take you out to a quiet place where you could sit around a campfire, watch the stars and the only sounds you hear at night are coyotes and owls. For some in big RVs they don’t seem to understand that the tent camper ten feet away want to enjoy their vacation too. Out in the far reaches, finding peace between campers can be your hardest job as a host.

    • Jolene/Iowa says:

      It is different because my experience was in an urban setting in a LARGE metro area. Fort Worth, TX. No tents, no campfires, no dogs were even allowed in this park. Locked bathrooms except for those who requested a key. So finding out what the camp host position entails for it’s location will be so important. Because my urban camp host experience would be quite different from one out in the boonies. Also a privately owned parks verses federal, state, county and city parks is a whole different ball game.

  14. Jean/Southaven, MS says:

    I might be #8 or at least close to 8. Very infomative for camp host possiblilties. I dont think I would like being stuck out there all that time for nothing. It would be TOO isolated for me. Good info though. Thanks

  15. rvsueandcrew says:

    Great comments coming in about camp hosting! Thank you… Keep ’em coming!

    I’m going to stand back from responding to reports about camp hosting. I think I get in the way of discussion sometimes and there are probably readers with questions.

    Topics other than camp hosting are also welcome. Know that your input is greatly appreciated!

    • Sandy says:

      Thank you, Sue for a wonderful conversation. Good to know from the people who have been there what they may be in for as a camp host.

  16. Pat H....now at Salton Sea. . says:

    I camp host on the Oregon coast at state parks and really enjoy it. The only suggestion I have is to pick an area you like and try it for a month. There are lots of different positions for hosts to choose from.

    I’m going back in April to host at a natural area, work 4 hours in the visitor center. Then on to a campground on the coast for 3 months doing yurt cleaning. Some days 4 hours, some less. Next is another campground on the coast to clean sites, yurts and sell firewood. All parks are different, you just have to find the area and position you enjoy.

    Hope this helps.

  17. I’m sure Camp Hosting is not for me…..I don’t like people THAT much! And they usually like to have a couple, not a Single.

  18. Chas anderson says:

    Hosting is hard work.There always seems to be a complainer in the crowd and I am not a very patient listener.It ain’t for me. On a sad note we lost my precious dog Juice yesterday to liver cancer.Juice had four cancer surgeries in seven years and always bounced back happily even the last one 2 years ago that took part of her lower jaw.She saved my family…literally.We were estranged from my son but we heard he had a dog and asked if we could meet her 9 years ago.Juice was her name and she added 45 pounds of love into the equation.When he moved to.Arizona 6 years ago he could not take her and asked if we could watch her and bring h e r out to.see him. We have been snowbirdding and travelling back to Arizona for 6 winters and ‘re all close again.Dogs teach love like nothing else.She was a once in a lifetime gem.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, Chas, your hearts must be broken! I remember how happy you were to see Juice recover from the jaw surgery, how she was jumping and playing again. Gosh, they give us so much and expect so little. I wish there were words that could take away your pain at this loss.

      Juice… The Love Ambassador . . . She helped heal your family. Rest in Peace, dear one.

    • Jolene/Iowa says:

      What a touching story. I am so sorry for your loss. Our pets are our family.

    • Cinandjules (NY) says:

      Saddened that you lost your beloved Juice.

      What a lovely story on how she bridged the gap with your son and made the family whole.

    • Elizabeth in WA says:

      SO sorry you have lost your pal…some are quite simply irreplaceable…we have pretty much decided that after the loss of our last one over 5 yrs ago now. If it helps you to get another dog, I hope you will find one that is just right!! Dogs are so wonderful!!

    • DesertGinger says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. Juice sounds like a wonderful dog.

    • BadgerRickInWis says:

      “Dogs teach love like nothing else.”
      Oh so true. And I’m so sorry for your loss Chas. It sounds like Juice was indeed a once in a lifetime gem. Thank you so much for sharing your story of how she brought your family together again.

      • chas anderson says:

        Thanks everyone.We got young Eddie(Ed Norton) 2 years ago to keep Juice company.He is like having Robin Williams living in your spare room.We love him.

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      So sorry for you loss, Chas. Juice was a sweet dog.

  19. Hi Sue, I don’t think camp hosting would be for us. It does sound interesting if you want to stay in one place for the entire winter. Or if you’re trying to travel in the RV / trailer with limited funds.

  20. Seems whenever we tell people we full time we get asked if we are going to be camp hosts. We both shudder at the thought. Neither of us are people people and don’t have the patience or desire to be in a position where constant contact with the general public is require. I think it takes a particular breed to be a good camp host. We’ve seen plenty of bad ones.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The best camp hosts are the ones with easy-going, people personalities. I’ve come across a few that sort of “fell” into camp hosting. They camped in a park or campground, liked it, and returned to it, becoming “regulars.” Then someone suggests, “You’re here anyway. Why not take the camp host position?”

      There are some wonderful camp hosts. The folks here at Midland are two of them.

      • Yes, I should have mentioned that we have run across some very fine camp hosts as well.

        We always make sure to not make extra work for them by cleaning up around our campsite, picking up trash in other public areas and not asking 100 dumb questions every time we see them.

        John

  21. Dawn from Camano Island says:

    Chas, so sorry to hear about your pup, Juice. It doesn’t seem fair that they don’t live longer but maybe that’s selfish.

  22. David Ainley (back in Kentucky) says:

    State Farm Insurance is worth a look. They insure my school bus (motorhome). They charge me $158 for 6 months. Your mileage may vary.

    Regardless of who you go with be sure to read the FINE PRINT and also be sure they are aware you are full timing in the RV/motorhome or whatever it is you’re buying insurance for. Lot’s of companies will sell you insurance only to have the underwriters cancel it a month later. If you just hit the road; that could be a real problem.

  23. weather says:

    It’s been interesting considering the pros and cons of camp hosting, Sue, great topic for a post, and I really like the new header photo. Imagine someone knocking on the BLT’s door at night, awakening you to complain about a generator’s noise. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the guy running it when you confronted him about it, Ha! I take it that the nice folks telling you about the opening hadn’t read your blog before. I’ve been sitting here chuckling about the whole idea-forced conversations day and night for months in a row, trapped in one place with the bonus of having a supervisor! I honestly see how a lot of people might enjoy the position, it has many benefits. For you-more like trading 180 days of living the dream for 180 nightmares. Your opening the post with a joyous greeting of a new day was a hilarious and perfect contrast to the pictures the rest brought to mind. Was that intentional?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, weather,

      Your last line gave me a smile. No, it wasn’t intentional. You’re much better at making connections than I am. It would be fun to write a post about a big hassle and complications at a campground, leading with a calm photo of dawn like that one, and ending with a serene sunset. Ha! Well, I don’t make up my “stories.” If I ever have an upsetting experience to relate here, I’ll use those calm “bookends” that nature provides.

      Yeah, me as a camp host. What a disaster that would be.

      Camper: “Uh, excuse me? Excuse me? Anybody home? Do you have any marshmallows? We want to make smores.”

      Me, the Camp Host: “Are you kidding me? What does this look like? Kroger’s? Get offa’ my campsite before I turn YOU into a smore. Idiots. grumble grumble…(slams door).”

      🙂

      • weather says:

        Switched from chuckling to laughing so loudly it woke my cat up!

      • You are my kind of people Sue. That was funny.

      • Elizabeth in WA says:

        The intrusions and lack of privacy and not being able to keep somewhat my own schedule (does a woman ever have her own schedule entirely with a husband??)…any rate that would drive me batty!! I admire those who can take it all in stride however!!

      • BadgerRickInWis says:

        Woe, be the clinger who rode his OHV over to knock on your door to ask if you have gas for his (yes, it would be a he) generator because he wanted to be sure and watch the big game. I suppose he might also ask you why your dogs are barking so much. 🙂

        Goodness, as I type this I almost feel sorry for him now. (Almost)

  24. wildflower in prescott says:

    Here in the Prescott area there are three very popular hiking trails that have paved parking, toilets,and water faucets. So instead of “campground hosts”, they have Forest Service Hosts who open and close gates mornings and nights, and clean the bathrooms. The hosts get free water, electric, and sewer. They work a couple of hours each day, no days off, so that is not good if you are solo.

    I just want to let blogorinos know that the FS has more than just “campground hosting” volunteer opportunities where you can get a free site for your RV.

  25. Linda Sand (Minnesota) says:

    We know some people, a couple and a single, who host at wildlife preserves. They like feeling like they are giving something back for the privilege of being able to live the RV life. And what could be better for ones with the right personality who love birding than leading birding tours at a preserve and/or teaching kids to respect nature?

  26. mockturtle says:

    I can’t imagine camp hosting as it involves dealing with PEOPLE! 🙁

  27. Cinandjules (NY) says:

    Excuse me……..I have a definition question on the word “sanitation”. Sanitation to me would mean empty the garbage cans near the restroom, or er vaults or whatever you call them.

    Something tells me “sanitation” is in teeny tiny print, that one needs to get their “cheater” glasses on to read. Because it REALLY means you are responsible for cleaning the toilets! Oh hell no! ? There isn’t enough pay in the world (free site, salary and whatever other perks associated with) that I would jump right into cleaning a PUBLIC restroom! AND be warm and fuzzy?

    Gotta be a special person…..alright!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, so everyone has a clear picture of what “cleaning the toilets” means when you’re cleaning a vault toilet. A vault toilet is like an outhouse. “Stuff” drops through a toilet seat, down, down, down. There is no flushing. It’s not like you have to clean the inside of a toilet. But, yeah, still not a fun task.

      As for the qualifications that you refer to as “warm and fuzzy.” I think that part is to keep away the anti-socials. The kind who intend to sit at their picnic table with a chip on their shoulder and a shotgun in their hand. 🙂 (extreme example!)

    • Elizabeth in WA says:

      Heh…had enough cleaning up after men when I worked my summers during college cleaning up dorms for the next year…you would not believe what we cleaned off the CEILING in the guy’s dorms…un believeable!!

    • Velda in Roseville CA says:

      I gotta a put in a story here. Many years ago, my family and I joined a couple of other families up in the Sierras near Markleville to tent camp for a week or so. There was only a vault type toilet and a water spigot. The three Moms decided there was no way their children were going in those potties without them being sanitized like operating rooms. So daily the women took turns with bucket and brush and mop and plenty of PineSol and or Clorox and made those little houses shine and smell like the fresh forest. In the late afternoon the Ranger would show up to pick up trash and clean those same little houses. You can imagine him holding his nose and opening the door only to find them spotless and smelling fresh. The look on his face was priceless. Took him a day or so o figure out these 3 Moms were in charge whole time we were there. I would bet he told that story too and hoped we came back each year!

  28. Bill & Ann C, AZ says:

    Exhilarating, exhausting, boring, exciting, yucky (never want to Clean men’s bathrooms again!), very rewarding, wish we’d never done it. It runs the gamut. We worked with Oregon State Parks for three years and the Fish and Game for three years. Check out volunteer.gov

    Our favorite positions? Water surveys at KOFA NWR and Day Use Host at Tseriadan State Park in Oregon. Bottom line, we get tired of being tied down.

    • Calvin R (still in Ohio) says:

      I cleaned restrooms at a freeway rest area in Ohio. Most of the time, men’s were a little more untidy, but no big difference between men’s and women’s. The exception was tour buses. When those big buses stopped at our rest areas (sometimes three or four at a time), there were at least one or two women (almost never men) who would go crazy and trash the restroom. Pretty much everybody who worked there came to hate tour buses. However, campgrounds would not have tour buses, so that would be fine for me.

  29. Pat H....now at Salton Sea. . says:

    I don’t ever plan on hosting at a park where I have to clean bathrooms. I’ll do toilet paper and paper towels, but the rest is a Ranger job at the parks where I host.

    • Bill & Ann C, Benson, AZ says:

      We never planned on it either; but, if you are hosts to others who are taking their once a year vacation and the resident ranger is lazy or cannot be contacted for some unknown reason you, as host take care of the matter. It’s the same as keeping a clean bathroom at your home. You do the cleaning for the benefit of your guests.

    • Bill & Ann C, Benson, AZ says:

      PS: at one park we hosted the young relief ranger knew the head ranger was lazy. This young man was always very generous with his praise and ‘thank yous’ for our willingness to go the extra mile for the convenience of the guests.

      • Pat H....now at Salton Sea. . says:

        That is why, after hosting at several parks, I only go to the ones who have great Rangers and enough staff to do their assigned jobs. A lot of hosts go to the same parks because of the good relationships between the hosts and the staff.

  30. Fulltimer Judy says:

    I have never been a camp host because I already have a part-time online job, but I have been staying in state, regional, and national parks for 4 years, and have chatted and observed a lot of camp hosts. My impressions are that some love it and some do not, but it really depends on the place, the benefits, and how they are managed, plus the things they are required to do.

    First, many camp host or volunteer positions are rewarded by a campsite worth $900 and more per month, and has full hookups, plus a scenic place with lots to do in the area. Some even offer free propane and other benefits, such as the use of a washer-dryer and other “ranger” facilities. The one Sue describes seems pretty skimpy in benefits, but I can see where it might appeal to someone out there, like a hermit??

    I think also there is a big difference in the independence you are given as a volunteer or camp host. How many hours per week are you expected to work and do you have options for your schedule and the jobs you do? Or are you treated as free labor and given the jobs the rangers don’t want to do. For example, I have been chatting with camp hosts and watched them looking over their shoulders all the time because the “boss” might drive by and wonder why they are not working.

    For me, dealing with drunk, noisy, or other misbehaving campers would be a serious negative. Am I expected to break up fights, or can I just call police or a real ranger if I observe something?? I don’t think camp hosts should be expected to be police officers and get into dangerous situations. I have been in campgrounds where you are told to call a ranger or 911 if there is a problem because camp hosts are only on duty so many hours per day. Having to be on call all hours of the night would not be nice. I have heard stories of really scary situations that no “volunteer” should be subjected to!

    On the other hand, I have known of volunteers who aren’t really camp hosts. For example, there are hosts for day use areas, where the gates are closed and locked at dusk and hosts are off duty. And in some national parks, volunteers get the benefits of hosting but work at information desks and in gift shops, and even at entrance booths. That would be a lot better for those of us who do not want to deal with drunks!!

    I think if I were ever to volunteer at camp hosting, I would want to check the place out in advance and also interview other people who have worked there!!!

  31. Linda-NC says:

    Beautiful pics! Ahh-I am relaxed now. I am a camera buff and was wondering what camera that you use. Or maybe–you are just so talented with it that it doesn’t matter. Just curious. Keep it coming whatever it is. Thanks!

  32. mockturtle says:

    I think hosts are supposed to call the local LEOs. However, they don’t always. I was at a NFS campground where a young woman was apparently being assaulted and was shrieking her lungs out. I phoned the police, who came in about half an hour [!] and stood close enough to the victim [I didn’t know if the perp was still there–it was dark] for her to know I was talking to the dispatcher. The police had their lights flashing for about 45 minutes but the hosts, the next morning, claimed they ‘didn’t hear a thing’. Everyone else did. Were they just ignoring the situation so they wouldn’t have to deal with it??

  33. Maryanne Davis-Baldwin-CT says:

    Because I’m on the east coast (now in Florida) I’m usually way behind. The picture at the beginning is really beautiful but not the desert(?) where you are now, I assume.

    Thank you, Sue, for your kind answers to my questions regarding my Paperwhite Kindle & the sway bar. I’ve called Amazon twice now & they have quite helpful both times; this last to learn how to borrow books (for free!) from the public library. Seems you get them on the computer & then tell the computer to send the book to your Kindle-at least that is what I think she told me, & it worked. So far. Now I have to do it alone…..Turns out the Kindle had to be “deregistered” & “reregistered”.

    The sway bar is still a mystery-there are quite a few of different ones but I’ll keep reading about them & it will become clear-eventually.

    As far as camp hosting, I generally admire the people who do all that work & smile at everyone. Far from being up my alley! I didn’t even make it 4 days into substitute teaching though my mother, my daughter & my grandson are all teachers. Trying to guide recalcitrant adults would be far worse.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Maryanne . . . . The photo of sunrise was taken while standing in my doorway, using my camera’s zoom. I have such fun with that thing! What a way to start a day… Thanks for the compliment on the pic.

      LATER…. Ooops… I realize now that you were probably referring to the header photo. I took that photo when we camped in the Absaroka Mountains northeast of Dubois, WY.

  34. Sandy in TX says:

    There is another blogger that has hosted and written about it, day by day. Search for ‘As The Gmome Roams’ if you would like to read more. I find him quite entertaining AND he travels with a dog so he’s another winner in my book!

  35. Lois (AZ) says:

    It takes a special type to do camp hosting or any “public service” job! I managed a time share resort in MN for 6 years…found out it was an experience but NOT my calling. Camp hosting would be the same thing…negative outweighs the positive.

    I am selling my condo here in AZ…now for the bombshell! Returning to “my roots” meaning Minnesota! When I hit the 3/4 century, something changed in me… felt the need to get back to small town life, less traffic , where I can walk down the street and see someone I know! (I can always come visit!) I envy RVSue since it was always a dream of mine to travel and camp along the way. Love following this blog! Always something interesting going on!

  36. Ladybug in Mid TN says:

    I expected the Reggie caption to read ‘Got worries, problems, fears? Reggie man is here!’.

  37. Nancy S from Indiana says:

    We were talking to the campground hosts at the Hoosier National Forrest, which by the way is incredibly beautiful. The pine trees & hills are reminiscent of the Smoky Mountains, just breath taking. They wondered if we’d like to apply since their time was almost up. They’re provided with free camping, a site with full hook ups & if I remember correctly, 50 amp service, which most sites don’t have . They also provide a golf cart. They are required to check & stock the restrooms every morning & only clean if someone messed them up. I remember seeing him with a weed eater too, just doing light weeding around the sites. I think the camping was around $25 or $30 a night, so getting it free isn’t bad. However like most of you we weren’t interested.

    • Marsha / MI says:

      I’ve entertained being a camp host, but we’re newly retired and enjoying our travel.

      National Forest Campgrounds have some gigs that run a minimum of 30 days, so you could camp host and move on after a month. Here’s a link to information on camp hosting as well as being a good site for information on national forest campgrounds. http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/host/host.htm

  38. Lisa says:

    I haven’t tried being camp host yet. It looks fun, albeit very challenging. I would’ve loved to help you out but I just can’t for now.

  39. MB from VA says:

    Good morning Sue and crew! Thank you for the informative post. I had wondered what the camp host’s duties were but had never gotten around the looking it up. I had thought it might be something I would enjoy once I get a little time and experience under my belt. I do like talking to people from different places and I like to be of help. So, maybe one day it might be a fun thing to do. I look forward to reading the comments.
    Beautiful but cold Friday morning here in VA. I am trying to remember to take it all in because one day soon I will drive out the farm gates for the last time. As for now, I am blessed to live in a very beautiful area. People travel from all over to see it……just as I do out west. It will always be “home”. I remember talking to a young Navajo woman who had a family business in Monument Valley. She had recently returned from a school trip to DC. (4 hours from me) She was talking about how beautiful it was. I agreed but reminded her how beautiful it was in MV too…….she just rolled her eyes. I suppose anything can get “old”. And maybe those who travel are able to keep their “childlike wonder” because beauty doesn’t become “old hat”. If she is able to travel more maybe then she will see the beauty of her home upon her return from “somewhere else”. That young woman was going to study to be a Physical Therapist. And she wanted to re visit VA. I wish I had given her my cell number. I have often wondered how she is doing…… Sorry for the long post. Don’t know how I got from camp hosting to this. 😉

  40. Michael says:

    I’ve always thought the Federal Government (BLM) is taking advantage of people paying $7 a day! What they expect from you for that paltry amount is absurd. The remoteness of some spots from water, gas, food, propane, medical facilities means spending a lot of time and money on the road. That amount of wear and tear on your vehicle will take it’s toll. I’ve met far more disappointed people with the BLM work experience than happy.

  41. We are volunteer camp hosts which is a far cry from paid, full time hosts. We can be choosy in what and where.

    Last year we started full-timing in May and our first gig was a month and a half working the Visitor’s Center at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This was for USFS who supplied us with a 50amp full hook up site, uniforms and oh so fantastic scenery for free.

    2nd gig was November at Sunset Bay State Park, Coos Bay Oregon. We were true camp hosts there, greeting new comers, chatting is guests, selling firewood, cleaning sites and stocking restrooms (no cleaning!). Off season like it was made it very hard to stir up the expected 4 hours a day (2 days off per week) but the park ranger understood and didn’t worry about short days. We usually managed to meet it with chatting with guests and expanding firewood sales hours.

    3rd gig was as maintenance hosts at Cape Blanco State Park, Port Orford Oregon in December. Probably the most challenging thing we’ll do as we were hit with several Pacific gales, some with winds gusting to 90mph. A lot of time was spent just hunkering down and doing pickup work in the shops. Worst part was not having adequate rain gear which we quickly fixed.

    If you are thinking of hosting, be as specific as you can on requirements and expectations. We had to pass on an opportunity when upon arrival we found out the site was not full hookups (we lack the tank capacity to boondock for long periods). It would have made for a very long 2 months uping stakes every few days to dump. As volunteers don’t be shy in being totally up front on what you will do and won’t do. If you are a paid host obviously things will be considerably different.

    Our next gig will be at Lincoln Rock State Park in Wenatchee Washington in April and May. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by. I’ll brew us up a pot of coffee or possibly pop a cork.

  42. There is a host job available in the town of Patagonia at the bird area. LAND Conservancy I think. Nice site shade hook up no pay.

  43. Rand says:

    Dog story here. Reasons to Host.
    I was a CABIN manager once-upon-a-time. Mud season is quiet time in a ski resort, large barn-like college ski clubhouse, giant iron open fireplace, monster kitchen with views of the lake valley. My dogs pups were born under the floor boards, never seen, could hear the growing process from how loud the growling was and how hard the slams were on the floor joists.

    Snow arrived and found out managing was really a job JOB. The fireplace smoked so the college youngsters poured beer and other liquids to put it out. The kitchen was probably as clean as their kitchen was near the college. Nobody got hurt or otherwise altered that I was informed of. (That was my job , right)

    The pups finally crawled out and found above ground homes. Years after, the ancestry of a large percentage of the local dogs could be recognized– Tootaloo and Ben have ancestral history. Walker Hound and Bernese Mountain Dog are a good match.

    Successful camp hosting is a matter of right space and right time and dog whelping —

  44. Leesa (IA) says:

    Appreciate the comments. Have been looking into hosting as a way of being able to go full-time and not be broke in a few years. I have been working with people my whole life and raised 8 children so I don’t even blink an eye at cleaning up after people. The problem would be stupid people – have noooo time for adults who act like children.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      If you can find a place where there are enough rangers and they do a good job… as I understand it… you, the camp host, aren’t supposed to get involved with “adults who act like children.” You call the rangers (or police) and let them handle it. I say that so you don’t become discouraged with your plan…

  45. AZ Jim says:

    WARNING!! It’s unseasonably warm this time of year in Arizona and southwest desert areas! Time to remind ourselves that any temperature over 80 brings out our nemesis, the deadly rattlesnake. They are out of hibernation and they are not only active but the venom is at full potential. Watch where you and your pets walk, avoid rock outcroppings, plants and basically anywhere they may seek temporary shade while awaiting their next move to find food. If possible walk where you have wide visibility of all sides around you. Missy here is a local TV warning: http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/89621624-story You all be aware and be safe…Jim

  46. Pookie in Todd Mission Tx says:

    MY, what a glorious evening sunset………..
    Im not sure I would want to be set down in
    one place as a camp host for what…8 months?
    another great post Sue…..your just full of
    information for full timers….
    thanks
    chuck

  47. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi, Sue,

    Beautiful pictures on this post! It was so sweet to see dear Spike in the header shot. *sigh* I am not sure which picture is my favorite…the golden sunrise, the layers of green trees, mountains and sky in picture #2, the macro of the wash….wonder what made the “S” ?, or the house with the palm trees. Oh, of course it is the Reginator doing the backhoe! 🙂

    Temps will be very, very cold this weekend (teens to low 20’s + wind), so I plan to catch up with chores, cook meat sauce and bake banana bread. It may be cold outside, but it will be cozy and smell wonderful inside!

    I am enjoying the conversation about hosting; so interesting to read the different perspectives. Sending you, Miss Bridge, and Reggie warm hugs from me and Gracie pup! 🙂

    • Cinandjules (NY) says:

      What is meat sauce?

      It’s blustery over here…..minus 35. What time will the banana bread be ready? ?

      • weather says:

        Not being a baker, I’m having cinnamon raisin toast and coffee. No new accumulation of snow came overnight because the cold has turned it into snowdust that just blows around. The “mild” wind is making it minus 22 and dropping here,coldest should be midafternoon to overnight, minimal warm up tomorrow , Monday mid 20’s above, next weekend close to 50 .Inside is comfy , even the porch kitties area. I was just out there comfortably in my jammies, no interest in going outside though, Ha! Even the diehard ice fishing crowd is staying off the lake.The electricity flashed off for a few seconds yesterday , no problems since then. Have there been any recent brown or black outs near you? How are you doing?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Banana bread on a wintry day… perfect, Denise! Hugs..

  48. gayle coopr says:

    RVSue, I forgot to click your link before ordering stuff last night. Anything I could do to fix that?

    • Cinandjules (NY) says:

      You have the option of cancelling the order BEFORE it is shipped. Then click on the link and re-order.

      Just saying?

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Thank you, Cinandjules. And thank you, gayle, for wanting your purchase to bring me and the crew a commission.

        • gayle coopr says:

          Thanks for being such a good sport! I had a note with your name on top of the 6 items and then things got shuffled. It’s the “what-am-I-doing-in-this-room” syndrome.

  49. Renee says:

    This just came out this morning in the RVTravel newsletter –

    Fresh air in Idaho’s high mountains could be yours — along with a free RV spot — if you volunteer as a camp host this summer. Red River Campground near Elk City needs a camp host. Bring your own generator — water hookups are present but no electricity. The Forest Service provides LP and a financial stipend. Interested? Ring up Samuel Manifold at 208-983-4018 or email him at samanifold@fs.fed.us.

    • Renee says:

      This was also in the newsletter –

      Indiana needs campground hosts — apply now. Look to work 20 hours per week in exchange for an RV site. Brown County, Clifty Falls, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Monroe, and Hardy lakes state parks all need hosts, as do a number of state forest properties. For more information click here.

      You’ll need to go to the RV Travel Newsletter Fe 13 – 19 issue – rvtravel.com

    • Sidewinder Pen says:

      Is it just me, or is it kind of sad that a Forest Service campground is encouraging Camp Hosts to bring their own generators? Bah.

  50. Cheryl O. says:

    I went to the Seattle RV show today. Attended the Boondocking 101 seminar. Lo and behold, the presenter had your blog on the screen referencing someone who fulltimes. Loved it knowing I’m not such a newbie knowing you, Sue. lol. I’ll get there someday.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good morning, Cheryl O.,

      Well, that’s interesting! I wonder what picture of my blog was on the screen. Was my blog mentioned by name or was it just background decoration?

      You’re right, your focus on your vision will get you where you want to go!

      • Cheryl O. (WA state) says:

        Good morning, Sue.
        A screenshot picture of your header of the sunrise photo was displayed. So it had your name and the background photo. He was displaying examples of people who boondock.

        Thanks for your encouragement on my vision (pun intended). I had to have a second laser eye surgery last Thursday. The surgeon wanted to make sure he took care of the 2 tears in my retina. My next checkup is on Tuesday. For now, I still have distortion in my right eye.

        I am envisioning better vision all the way around. Stay cool!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Here’s to a great report at your checkup on Tuesday! Heal well so you can keep your eyes on your vision. 🙂

          Thanks for the info on the seminar photo.

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