Should You Camp Host?

Do an online search for make money RVing or making money on the road and you will come up with a bunch of sites happy to tell you the secrets of full-timing. The most common suggestion (and the one everybody seems to get all excited about) is something called workamping. There are some very good books on the subject and it it's become a bit of a buzzword in the RV community. It’s also known as camp hosting and has become a very popular way of staffing both private and government campgrounds. 

In plain terms, this means “volunteering” your services in exchange for a campsite. It’s actually quite a bizarre concept because you are in effect giving away something of value (your labor) for something of little value (your campsite). If you’re staying in a high end RV park with all amenities gratis then it’s probably not a bad deal but only if you would normally stay in that type of park and pay those rates. On the other hand, if you’re working for the Bureau of Land Management, Forestry Service, Army Corp of Engineers or any other government entity then it’s a lousy arrangement.

It may seem like easy work on the surface but it is just that: work. The government agency that employs you will assign mandatory times that you must be onsite and if there’s a ticket booth then you are given a shift when that station must be open. You will be given set duties like emptying trash, cleaning the campground facilities and making security rounds. The door of your motorhome will be the only point of contact for campers when they want to complain about a noisy neighbor or a dog straying into their campsite and they will not hesitate to knock on it anytime they feel that there is a problem. The Bottom line is that despite what you read on some of these sites, camp hosting is a job. In a smaller campground it may only be a part-time job but at the end of the day, it is still a job and if you’re selling your labor then you should be receiving something in return.

In many of the government campgrounds where they have seasonal camp hosts, sites typically run around eight to ten dollars a night and that is effectively how much you are getting paid for your duties as camp host. If you are a couple then that rate is basically halved as you will both contribute to the job in some way. To each his own, but I think the average person is worth a little more than that especially when you are working for well-funded government departments that pay their regular workers handsomely.

Some agencies will occasionally pay a small stipend to cover expenses like propane etc. but because you are actually incurring those expenses, it’s in one hand and out the other. A few days of paid work per month would easily provide the same income as a whole month of camp hosting so unless you have a yearning to spend an entire season in your all-time favorite campground, then hosting is probably not the wisest way to spend your time. This may not be the most popular opinion on the internet but it is an honest one. Do the math BEFORE you sign the contract!