Workamping Dawwwg: No Bones About It

Mom and I are keeping real busy with our workamping jobs, no bones about it.  Did you know that expression is hundreds of years old?  It means that you are being straightforward, honest, and clear.  It comes from the olden days, when it was a good thing to be able to have your soup and not find any bones in it.  I don’t know about that.  I think soup is better if it does have bones in it.  At least a few.  For flavor, you know.

Anyways, Mom’s job is to work as part of a team running the campground, keeping it a great place for everybody.  In human terms, that means lots of rules.  Advertising the rules, enforcing the rules, and bending some rules when bending makes sense.  Mom likes rules.  They keep life nice and organized.  She has a whole long list of them that she expects me to follow.  She’s a very straightforward kind of girl.

My job is to tend to Mom.  In doggie terms, that means loads of love.  My top priority practically goes without saying:  Protect her and our little house.  My favorite duty, though, is to get her to curl up with me for as many naps as possible.  It helps her unwind from some of her crazy dealings with people, especially the boneheaded ones.

And believe you me, that girl needs to unwind.

Like the other night.  We were sound asleep when a soft knock came on the door.  Leaping into Workamping Dawwwg mode, I sounded the alarm (Mom would never have heard those tiny knocks without me).  It was after midnight, and a lady stood outside our door to file a complaint about some noisy, drunken neighbors.  Well, I made so much noise–enough to strike terror into the hearts of the entire campground–I scared the noisiest noisemaker off.  Before Mom could even get dressed, they had driven away.  Unfortunately, Mom felt it necessary to stay up even longer to make sure things remained quiet.  Thank goodness the next day she let me put her down for a good nap!

Then there was cigarette lady and her tiny terror.  Mom needed to take me for a quick walk while on a work break.  New neighbors had pulled in next to us and when Mom approached our door she saw they had a little dog tied up to a tree on a very long leash that would let the dog go all the way to our house and beyond.  She asked the lady real nice to please tie the dog farther away so it wouldn’t reach our house, but the lady was too busy smoking a cigarette to bother.  When we came out of our door, the tiny terror charged us, nipping at our feet.  Flashing into Workamping Dawwwg mode, I was ready to chew the little fur ball’s head off, but Mom pulled me up and out to the road.  Mom and the lady yelled at each other until the lady’s husband arrived on the scene, took care of the stupid dog, and shut the woman up.

Mom talks wistfully about going back to a workamping job that involves little to no contact with campers…  like the one in Virginia where she cleans bathrooms and cabins and fire pits.  But I know her.  I can tell there is something special about this place that makes all the craziness worthwhile.

You see, if jobs were soup, this one has a whole lot of flavor.  The tastiest bits are the friends we have made.  Mom couldn’t deal with what she has to deal with if it weren’t for her friends on the workamping team and a whole lot of other really good people she has met here.  And me?  I’ve made a wonderful new doggie friend on our morning walks.  I even let her sniff my tail the other day!

So I think we’ll stay a while longer.  Bones and all.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re a team.  I’ll chew ’em up.  She’ll spit ’em out.

(The picture at the top of this post is of me, beautiful me, sitting in the EZ-Go golf cart that Mom and her friends use to ride around the campground.  When it’s not real busy, she lets me ride with her.  I’m hoping to learn to drive real soon!)

Quiet Time

It’s been a long, quiet stretch on the blog.

Not so much in real life.

My current workamping job involves loads of interaction with the general public which, for a flaming introvert, can be a real challenge even when things run smoothly.  Then there’s the whole tangle of how to deal with… errrr… shall we say, problem guests?  You know, the ones who take rules–like quiet time and leash laws–as a personal affront.

At the worst moments, part of me longs to be back in Virginia cleaning bathrooms with hot steaming water on a 95 degree, humidity-drenched day.  Salty sweat dripping into my eyes would add a sharp sting to the fog swallowing my glasses, and make those gargantuan spiders that tend to loiter around the shower drains invisible to me.  Cleaning bathrooms and cabins are the zen jobs.  No back talk, no arguments, no complaints about you being mean for scrubbing too hard.  Except from maybe the spiders.

On the bright side, I am really lucky to be working with a great campground team here.  I am blessed with some budding friendships with some very sweet people.  And whether I like it or not, it is good for me to learn (relearn?) customer service skills.  Also, the vast majority of the campers here are wonderful people.  Absolutely golden.  Frankly, the best we can hope and work for as camp hosts is to keep it a safe, lovely place for those campers.

Soooo…  Gargantuan spiders…  Problem guests…  Another day, another night…  It’s all a juggle, I suppose.

And those quiet stretches… they grant time and space to adjust to all the juggling.  Time to ponder and to reflect.  That kind of time is a true luxury.  We often don’t notice or appreciate such a gift until it is drowned out by all the noise… and screams for rescue.

Today I luxuriated in this beautiful, quiet Sunday.  Fifty campers pulled out of the park, and Dawny and I enjoyed several good walks.  My biggest challenge of the day was deciding whether to watch The Living Dead or The Brady Bunch.

I chose door number three.  Dawny and I cuddled up and took a nice, deep nap.

Another Day, Another Night

Is that old expression, “Another day, another dollar,” used much anymore?  It seems to me that inflation exploded it decades ago or at least has made it wistfully ridiculous.  Here is an expression that stands the test of time and is appropriate for workampers:  “Another day, another night.”

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, workampers exchange their labor for a free camping site and, usually, hookups to electric, water, and sewer.  The beauty of a barter type of arrangement like this is that the value for what each of the parties gives corresponds directly to what they receive.  It is wonderfully simple.  Other benefits are sometimes offered, as well, such as free use of laundry machines and other campground amenities.  For me, the primary benefit (actually, more of a thrill than a benefit) has been access to campground golf-cart style work vehicles.  I adore riding around in those things.

So far, I’ve seen labor hours required range from 14 to 25 per week.  The 25 hours/week (at Texas state parks) seems really high to me.  That’s well over half of a full-time job in exchange for site rental and utilities.  Twenty hours/week seems to be a typical requirement.  That’s not too bad when you are a couple and can split the hours.  One place I work simply requires you (alone or as part of a couple, it doesn’t matter) to work two days on, then you get four days off.  That’s my favorite arrangement so far, as it gives me ample time to do personal errands and chores and allows me to take some overnight camping trips so that I don’t start growing roots!

Workamper duties vary widely.  In my five stints up to this point (at three different places), I have cleaned bathrooms, cabins, fire pits and grills; handled reservations and check-in/check-out services; and worked in a retirement community for RV’ers.  Physical labor and outdoor work is nice for keeping you in shape.  Indoor and office work is a wonderful treat and can keep you alive when the weather is challenging (cleaning fire pits and grills in 95 degree, humid weather is killer).  In any case, workamping is a great way to really get to know your campground and its staff and to meet other campers.

I found all three of my workamping jobs while visiting the campgrounds first, in person.  That is a nice way to do it.  You can sample the things that are most important to you before committing to working there for months at a time.  For me, those things include a good place for dog walks, safe and pretty surroundings, decent TV signals, and good Verizon reception.  Criteria that others might rank more important could include items such as on-site laundry machines, structured activities, campground-supplied Wi-Fi, and proximity to a city.  Oh, and distance to the nearest Walmart…  That’s not on my official list, but it sure helps.

You can also find workamping jobs online.  Workers on Wheels has a great website (www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com) that lists jobs in exchange for camping sites, as well as paying jobs from employers who appreciate a flexible, mobile workforce (such as Amazon, Christmas tree lots, and some farms during harvest season).  The website contains a wealth of valuable information, including help-wanted ads, work-wanted ads, home business ideas, help building a resume, and on and on and on.  Check them out!

Any readers who would like to share their workamping tips or experiences, feel free to use the comments section.  Just please be patient, as each comment comes through me before it is posted.  Thanks, and if I don’t post again before the end of the month, have a happy and safe Memorial Day.

(Photo at top of post:  The mountain laurels are back in bloom here in Virginia, making our daily dog walks some of the most pleasant in all of our travels.)