This summer will mark our third working as campground hosts. We've been asked many times, both by campers in our campgrounds and by friends (and friends of friends), “How do you get this job?” Here’s how:
1. Pick Your Area
Most National Forest campgrounds are managed by private concessionaires. This is a win-win. The concessionaires hire the staff and are allowed to make a profit. In return a portion of the profits are allocated to the forest service for ongoing campground improvements. This makes it so the forest service doesn't have to ask Congress to allocate funds for campground improvements.
If you have a particular area you’re interested in; visit the campgrounds. Even if they are closed there will usually be a placard on the entrance kiosk telling you who manages the campground and how to reach them.
2. Contact the Concessionaire
Campground hosting jobs are, by nature, high turnover. We’ve met a few couples who have managed the same campground for several years, but they seem to be the exception, not the rule. The point is, the concessionaires are always looking for people to manage their campgrounds. When you reach out to them, they will talk to you and answer all your questions.
They want to know where you want to work, and will do their best to match your request with a campground opening. If there’s a particular campground you want, ask for it. It may be available.
These are minimum wage jobs. Some concessionaires pay minimum wage for a set number of hours depending on how busy the campground. Others pay a salary which basically equates to minimum wage; you just don’t have to fill in a weekly time card. The concessionaires submit bids to the National Forest Service for the annual contracts, and are expected to hold to their bids, so you’ll find them pretty strict about not going over your allotted hours.
State and National Parks have different rules, and some state and national parks camp hosts are volunteer positions.
Yes, you do get days off. Depending on how busy the campground is, you may just take your days off and let the fee tube system do its job – or you may have alternate hosts to cover for you.
We've worked for two different concessionaires now and have been happy with both. American Land and Leisure manages campgrounds throughout the U.S. Their web site is www.americanll.com. AuDI Campground Services manages campgrounds in Northeastern Idaho and Oregon. Their web site is www.audicampgrounds.com.
3. Get the Trailer Ready
Most campgrounds require the hosts to have a hard-sided trailer or motor home, and most campgrounds provide dedicated water and sewer to their hosts. Some campgrounds provide electricity to their hosts, but most do not.
We use a combination of generator and solar power when we’re “unplugged.” We installed solar panels on the roof of our trailer to keep the batteries charged. We also installed an inverter. An inverter takes battery power and converts it to the 120v power we’re used to plugging into. Quite literally, it’s DC-AC. No, it won’t run a television or a microwave, but hey, you’re camping. It’s OK to rough it a little bit!
4. Have FunIf you enjoy the out of doors and like people, campground hosting is an ideal way to spend a summer – or winter, depending on your location. Here’s hoping camp hosting is a wonderful experience for you!