Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Just a Little Summer JOB

It has been three months since we started work camping at Narrows Too RV Resort in beautiful Trenton, Maine, just outside Bar Harbor.  We knew the time would pass quickly and boy did it.  It seems like just yesterday I was getting re-acquainted with a riding lawn mower – an implement that I have not used since high school – and Betsy was learning the computer reservation system. 

What has made our work experience enjoyable are the wonderful people we worked with.  This was also the case last year when we worked at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer park in Idaho in which we were just as fortunate to work with a tremendously fun group of people.  This summer was not different.  We had dinner parties, campfires and cocktails, scenic drives around the park, and many laughs with our coworkers.  And, we got a little work done.

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So what did we actually do?  Well, I worked outside on the maintenance crew (with all the guys) doing an assortment of tasks which ran the gamut of mowing, weed whacking, painting, vacuuming the pool, trimming bushes, and yes  . . . cleaning the restrooms.  Plus whatever else needed to be done.  And I got to operate the backhoe/frontloader.

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Betsy spent her time in the office checking in campers, making reservations, handling purchases in the store, and cleaning the rental cabins and cottages.  The mundane of day-to-day work was interrupted with an occasional power outage, computer crash, flooded building, and escaped cat.

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Our three-month commitment was supposed to end September 1st but due to some unexpected circumstances in which other couples left earlier than expected we agreed to continue working until early October.  Just as well for us since now we will get to enjoy the fall colors that will transform the beautiful Maine landscape.

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One of our campsites (#318) right on the water. Not a bad view from the "office."

This years work experience is quite different than last years.  Last year we were considered volunteers for the Corps of Engineers and worked 16 hours per week per person (although we willingly worked more hours).  The schedule was four days on, four days off and a “work” day of just four hours.  When we worked our hours and what we did was fairly flexible.  We didn’t get paid but we did get financially reimbursed for the mileage from our home base in Florida to the worksite in Idaho (which amounted to over $1,400) and our campsite was free.  (NOTE:  Our mileage
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A real paycheck again.
reimbursement was only for one-way of our travel.  Had we stayed 16 weeks instead of 12, we would have been reimbursed for round-trip travel.) This year we are are paid “employees” for Equity Life Style (parent company of Encore parks) and actually punch in and out in the morning, for lunch, and at the end of the day.  The nominal cost of our site is $125/month plus $25/month for electric.  Our work schedule is more regimented and set by a fulltime employee.  Schedule changes have to be “approved” rather than just “worked out” with other work campers.  So while the work of the two places is similar, the atmosphere and regiment are different.  Not better or worse, just different. 

So if you are going to work camp make sure you do your homework and consider who you are working for, exactly what the job entails, the benefits, are you in a place you really want to be, and if their “management” style fits your bill.  We did a three month cost comparison of last year versus this year and found the results interesting.  While we didn’t get paid for our work last year, our site was free, we were paid for our travel, and we were in a very remote area so we did not spend a lot of money.  Yes we are earning a salary this year but we have to pay for our site and have spent more money during the week on restaurants and entertainment (which translates to eating lobster three times a week for Betsy).  Both our work camping experiences were in locations where we wanted to be in for an extended period of time and "working" was the most cost effective way for us to do that.

All in all, we are glad we decided to work here and are thankful for the wonderful people we met who made our summer so great.  Bar Harbor and the surrounding towns are places that lure us back time and time again.  Who knows, maybe we will be back next summer, we liked it so much!



6 comments:

  1. Interesting comparison of two different workamping jobs.

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  2. We've found COE workamping requirements differ from park to park around the country. The amount of hours required to travel pay vary greatly. But we enjoyed our time working at the Thurmond COE in SC/GA and are headed back for another three months.

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  3. I hope your extra weeks of work don't delay your return to Grayton Beach! We are in Georgia now but we are heading to the beach in a couple of weeks. Can't wait to get there - can't wait until you get there either!

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  4. So glad it was a great summer and continuing into fall...... You both do such a great job, meet new people, and enjoy the area .... Let's just say, for sure your time and efforts are more than appreciated !!!

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  5. Always a treat to hear of your adventures....lobster three times a week? Somebody's going to start growing claws and antennae!

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  6. We enjoyed this summer mostly because there was such a great crew. Never laughed so much on the job. Love the interesting story and the wonderful pics. Hope things are going well for you ladies and give Spirit a big hug. And hope we can meet up in FLA.

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