Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
We’ve stayed at a couple of Forest Service campgrounds and like them very much, especially the space, plants, and trees surrounding each site. In one of them, there was a camp host that seemed to be in charge and kept the campground neat and tidy. How does one get such a position and what is expected of a host? —Mike and Mary
Hi Mike and Mary,
The National Forest Service, BLM, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, state parks, and other federal and state entities that operate campgrounds use camp hosts. Some farm the campground management operations to private campground management companies that hire hosts to perform myriad campground operations, such as registering campers and collecting fees, manning entry kiosks and visitor centers, gardening and maintenance, and conducting interpretive programs. But some host positions, especially in no-frills National Forest campgrounds, actually have very few obligations, mostly making sure every camper pays the camping fee, cleaning the restrooms and, as you say, keep the campgrounds “neat and tidy.”
RVers who host are usually given a free campsite in return for their 20 to 25 hours on duty per week. Private for-profit operators of federal campgrounds are not allowed to accept volunteer labor and are required to pay a wage (Recreation Resource Management [RRM] hires over 400 hosts in 175 parks in ten states, all in National Forests, National Parks, or state parks.) You can sign up on the RRM website.
Often, especially at small primitive campgrounds such as you will find in the National Forests, the host site may be the only one in the campground with hookups. I hosted for two winters at Lake Havasu State Park and had full hookups in a no-hookup campground. The smaller the campground, the broader your duties – sometimes you may be the only official presence. But they are easier to manage and a lot of your on-duty hours consist of just being available to collect fees from arriving campers and answering questions. And it’s fun. I met people from all over the country – and several witty Canadians – and made many friends.
Another advantage of hosting is being able to stay in a campground past the two-week maximum that is often the rule in most public campgrounds, giving you more time to explore the area fully. And some host positions only require a minimum of one month. This is especially a plum if you land a host position in a great national park such as Glacier, Yellowstone, Smoky Mountains, or Yosemite, though these positions are much sought after and harder to obtain. But as you add more hosting positions to your resume, your chances of obtaining one of these plums gets better. To find hosting positions go online to one of the managing agencies and search “hosting” or “camp host” and you should find the information you need to get a hosting position. Good luck.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .