This is the same thing I googled as I was shivering in Montana while Nathaniel cooked some canned chowder over our propane stove. This was still early on in our camp-around-the-country road trip and we were still what I consider to be novices in the camping world. We had our routine down pat, and still hadn’t run into any problems, but the outdoor community was new to us and we were still learning about all the hidden parts that made our experience such a great one. One of those behind the scenes workers is the camp host. Humble, mysterious, usually retired, and the ones with the best set up in the park. The camp host. We had no idea that in a few short months we would be one of them. I wish I knew the names of the team who unknowingly set us on this journey- they drove by in their golf cart (one of the easiest ways to identify a host) and introduced themselves as our “husband and wife camp host team.” Oh, and “are you folks bear aware?” We assured them that we were no stranger to bear boxes and continued getting ourselves settled in before the snow started falling that night. Safely tucked into our tents we wondered, “could we be camp hosts? They just drive around the country and live in campgrounds? Who is their boss? People get paid for this?” We had no idea what that simple google search would set into motion.
For those who don’t know, a camp host is someone who lives and works in a campground, be it private, federal, state run, etc. They sometimes get paid and sometimes do not. They always work in exchange for a site. Check out my post about our experience camp hosting here if you’re new to the idea, or keep reading to see how you can get started! We’ve worked all over the state of California in private and government owned campgrounds. We’ve volunteered and been paid, and we’ve had some bare bones and some pretty plush amenities. Every position is different. I’ll guide you through the process of finding a job and what to search for to make sure it’s the kind of position you want to be in.
Finding the Job:
We had a few resources that were invaluable to us. Most of our positions came from happyvagabonds.com, coolworks.com or kamperjobs.com (but after seeing downfalls to these sites we've created our own that in our opinion in 150% easier to use and navigate. But don't take our word for it. Go check it out for yourself at Land, Sea, Jobs!)
We found our paid position really quickly through American Land and Leisure which pays minimum wage for the state you’re in (thank you, California) and provides your site. Our current volunteer position came from parks.ca.gov which lists the available roles and sites for the upcoming seasons. We learned that a lot of these fill up quickly so definitely prepare your application a few months in advance if you’re looking for one of the more coveted spots.
Our current home in Northern California. What a commute!!
What to Include on Your Resume: Many of these camp host jobs require you to be able to do a little bit of everything. Any maintenance or mechanical experience that you. have is going to make you an asset to the park, but customer service is just as important. Most jobs look for couples, and they divide these tasks into pretty stereotypical roles. A typical listing will say, “Looking for a couple for the summer season, 20 hours a week per person in exchange for FHU site, men will do yard work and basic property maintenance, women will work in the office handling reservations and performing light housekeeping.”
Most camp hosts are older couples who are more than happy to work along gender roles, but I’m sure a park would accommodate a same sex couple, non traditional roles, or even friends who work and live together. Some parks will take singles in as well, but these listings are more rare. They prefer to have to people to divide the work.
Being the youngest ones in every campground we work for, we’ve seen that most campgrounds are desperately in need of someone with computer literacy and technical skills, even if they don’t know it yet, so be sure to include if you’re proficient in computers or can do more advanced things that they may benefit from. Nathaniel set up a bluetooth printer at our last gig, one that had been sitting in the box for half a decade. Our area managers were so grateful and it made our day to day process so much easier.
A valid drivers license, background check, and references are almost always required as well.
What You Need: It is not true that you need and RV to host, and many places that accept volunteers like Recreation.gov or pay like American Land and Leisure, are perfectly fine with a tent, pop up camper, or truck camper in some cases. In Nevada we camped near a host who slept in his truck, but he was a volunteer and they tend to be less strict with requirements. We’ve applied for some jobs that require a fully self contained rig, and some even have age limits on your RV or trailer as well. We live in a 1992 Class A, but with a fresh paint job and a clean exterior she does just fine. We haven’t been turned down because of her yet. Whatever your situation is, there will be a park that will be the right fit, but it is easier to apply and get hired in a standard RV instead of some of the more unconventional options. This is simply because you need to be approachable, and campers need to know how and where to find you. Having a door to knock on is usually the easiest thing for them.
What to Look For: Remember that as you apply to and accept these positions, you are making a commitment and your campground is depending on you. For that reason, if you’re looking for a two week gig, don’t apply to and accept a six month spot. If you want to be paid, don’t say that you’ll volunteer. It seems like common sense but as you sort through the listings you may find yourself caught up by an incredible location or a great position, even if the rest of the position doesn’t fit the lifestyle you want to live.
If you live in an RV, make sure that the site offered will fit your rig and that it has the hookups that you desire. We would never accept a site that didn’t have a full hookup, and we prioritize jobs that give us wifi and laundry as well. If we had solar and were more equipped for boon-docking, we would have more jobs available to us in remote and off the grid locations. You want to be comfortable and safe in your site, so ask about specifications before you accept!
In Summary There are thousands of camp host jobs around the country, some remote and some just outside of bustling cities, some with office work and cable tv, and some with less than ten sites to care for at a given time. Whatever your setup or desires are, there is a perfect spot somewhere out there for you. As a camp host you are the face of the park, and can make or break a campers experience. Keeping environments safe and clean, to welcome all campers as they travel through, is no small responsibility. Such a unique job definitely comes with unique perks. We’ve lived rent free in some of America’s most beautiful public lands, and had the opportunity to explore the great outdoors as we do it. Let us know where your camp host journeys take you, we may end up parked side by side one day!