uteWhen we first pondered the idea of work camping or camp hosting, we tried to do the pros and cons thing.  For example, on the one hand, it's great to have a spot or a spot and a paycheck.  On the other hand, it's difficult to stay in the same place for five months.  That sort of thing.  There was definitely plenty of disucssion about the nuts and bolts of the thing, and when it came to a remote National Forest campground, we also had to consider the impact of living outside the cell phone and internet zone.  Yikes.  As we dug into our San Juan National Forest experience, the philosophy and attitude of the people around us became the biggest "pro" on the list. 

We began our work camp experience at a private campground closer to an urban area, hosting and working in a store.  It turns out they weren't very fond of their campers. I guess that's all I'll say about that but it wasn't what I had in mind for us in our camp hosting situation.  Now the set up hit our "pros" list - paid and full hook up spot included.  The culture was so different from what we had experienced as full-time campers that it didn't work for us.  We hung in for a month but found another position for the summer.

Imagine how pleasant it was to attend our training - a real day-long seminar with the other camp hosts - and hear a completely different attitude towards the campers.  Not only was there respect, a good vibe, and even excitement about our customers, there were real tools given for dealing with problems or differences.  It didn't stop there - our supervisors were really great with the campers and their camp hosts all season.  Let me also say that all of the care and concern for our campers that was shown by our concessionaire was mateched by the Pagosa Springs Forestry Service.  Amazing folks, always so helpful.

Now we've only done this for one season so are not really experts, but an informal survey that includes Ute and Lower Piedra campgrounds tells us this about campers:  

  • They will touch things
  • They will mess up what you have just cleaned up
  • They will drive past two road-closed signs to drive up a closed road.  And then tell you they "didn't see" the signs
  • They will try to camp for free
  • They will pull five vehicles into one camp site
  • They will pop their heads through your back window inches from your own head while you're watching television - or whatever - and say, "Sorry!  I just had this one question for you..."
  • They are explorers
  • They are trailblazers
  • They are out breaking all the rules

So, the thing is, you have got to love them!  Talk to them and find out what they're doing, where they're going, what's been their favorite thing about their day.  If you don't enjoy your campers, you will go crazy as a camp host.  In our first position, employees were unhappy and we weren't the only ones hitting the road never to return. 

There was a trade-off.  The first campground was a full hook-up, hot showers, swimming pool, camp store, and propane provider. We had internet and cable.  Our hours were set.  There was absolutely no reason for the grouchy attitude that pervaded the place.  We gladly traded for the scarier "primitive" campgrounds in Southern Colorado with no store, no amenities, and no set hours.

I guess what I hope to pass on here is that if you'd like to explore the camp hosting avenue, figure out what you like about camping and campers and find the folks who reflect those same ideals.    We believe in the company's philosophy of assisting campers in making memories and having great experiences.  Coincidentally, that's exactly what we did - made memories and had great experiences!