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What You Need to Know About RV Volunteering

Updated on July 29, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who has traveled, lived, workcamped and volunteered nationwide for more than 50 years and am still going strong!

If you are interested in becoming an RV volunteer and need to access information and resources that can help you find good job opportunities. this article is for you.

You will find that doing these types of jobs can be satisfying as well as enjoyable.

However, you have to choose your volunteer positions carefully because you could easily wind up in a campsite that has no hookups or is so far out in the wilderness that getting to shopping and medical facilities is expensive and time consuming.

When you are spending months in a job, issues like this really matter.

Therefore, where you choose to apply should largely depend on the type of work you want to do an the level of every day comfort you require.

There is a volunteer post for every talent and taste.  This man likes to garden and has found a position that allows him to camp for free while pursuing his interest in it.
There is a volunteer post for every talent and taste. This man likes to garden and has found a position that allows him to camp for free while pursuing his interest in it. | Source

Volunteers Have Many Benefits

With many campground costs averaging $40 or more per night, simply being able to stay in one site for a period of time at no charge can save you plenty.

Furthermore, these types of job allow you to meet and get to know new people, learn new skills and also give our national and state park systems the helping hands they so badly need.

However, volunteering is more than just serving as a campground host. It can be anything, and most of the jobs are great fun.

On one volunteering job I had, I dressed up as a pioneer woman and baked biscuits over a campfire for visitors at a small fort. While they ate, I gave them a history lesson.

When you volunteer you get to choose the type of job you want, how long you want to do it, the number of hours per week you will work and how you want to camp.

If you choose well, you sometimes can get free access to various types of tourism venues, and in some cases, even receive stipends.

In short, volunteers always get something in return for their labor, but some do get more than others.

It Is Important to Choose The Right Situation

It means a lot when you are out in the woods to be able to come "home" to a nice hot shower, climate controlled comfort and a good meal.

It is hard to have these things when you are not given access to full hookups, which is why you should always be careful when choosing a position.

Each national and state park offers different amenities, so never assume you can get the same deal from one spot to the next.

The key to on site comfort is doing a great deal of research before you ever apply for a post.

Research can help you to find the best positions.
Research can help you to find the best positions. | Source

An Early Job Search Leads to a Better Post

There are millions of people on the road every summer, and while not all of them want to do volunteer work, many do.

Some return to the same jobs year after year, and a fair number of them keep two positions: one for summer and another for winter. They travel back and forth between them and thus live for free all year!

While this is great for them, it is not so good for someone who just wants to spend a month or two volunteering because those positions are filled before this second group ever gets a chance to apply for them.

Competition can be stiff, so those who are serious need to start researching and applying as early as January.

For most facilities, this is when the process begins, so you are more likely to find a post if you let people know you are available as soon as the new year arrives.

What Type Of Work Is Available?

One of the neatest benefits of volunteering is that individuals get to choose the type of work they do, and their choices are almost unlimited.

To make sure you get the post you want, however, you must negotiate with park managers ahead of time. They will tell you what is available, and you will tell them what you are willing to do. If you cannot come to an agreement, you simply find another opportunity.

Jobs can be anything from serving as hosts and doing maintenance all the way up to becoming interpreters and even teaching campers how to pan for gold. Anything people have always wanted to try is available, and what they do not already know, others can teach them.

The more skills you have, the more likely you will be to find a volunteer position.
The more skills you have, the more likely you will be to find a volunteer position. | Source

How Many Hours Must a Volunteer Work?

Work loads vary from one situation to another. Sometimes people put in 40 hours per week, but in other parks, they only work part time. Again, this is one of the things you should look at before accepting a position. No matter what perks parks give you, those that ask you to work full time are asking too much. After all, you are on vacation!

The jobs in this second group are those travelers should apply for because the lower number of hours gives them time to relax and enjoy the area they are visiting.

How Long Do People Have to Stay on the Job?

The length of time people must stay at a given location varies from park to park. Many places prefer that people stay for an entire summer season (which can last as long as five months depending on location), but some will settle for those who are only willing to give their services for less than a month.

This is also a point of negotiation, and travelers should let park managers know up front how much time they are willing to give. The longer you can stay, the more likely it is that you will be “hired”. On the other hand, the greater the amenities and benefits they offer, the more likely people are to want to remain longer.

The More You Know, The More Choices You Have

The great thing about volunteering is that the more you know, the more likely you are to be hired on by a campground that has great benefits. However, in many instances, what you don’t know, they will teach you. This is the price they pay for not having to provide you with an income, and they are more than willing to do it.

One year part of my duties as a volunteer in a state park was to show people how pioneers made biscuits and beans in a Dutch Oven over a campfire. Before I worked that year, I had absolutely no idea about how to do this, but some of the park workers taught me. It was fun, because when I served up small portions of the food to visitors, they acted as though I had given them Filet Mignon!

One big benefit of this is that anything you do serves as work experience. If you do a good job, parks will write recommendations that will help you to find work elsewhere.

Interview With A Professional Volunteer

Which Venues Offer the Best Perks?

If you are going to spend several months of your time in a place, you want it to be located where there is a great deal to see and do, and you want those things to be relatively close to your location.

Thus, your best bet is to choose places in or near resort areas or that offer their own ongoing activities and/or provide opportunities for outdoor activities. However, you do not want to be too far from civilization.

The best one I know of is Custer State Park in South Dakota. It meets all of the requirements I have discussed here, is absolutely gorgeous, offers many types of jobs and has terrific amenities and benefits.

However, there are many others from which to choose. You can find a good number of them via internet searches, Trailer Life Magazine and The American Hiking Society’s website.

Trailer Life offers all sorts of interesting and timely information about this and other issues. I have been reading it for years and always am able to find something new.

All of the country’s national parks also employ volunteers, but very few of them have hookups. However, each have websites that give contact information if you wish to call or email them.

If you are willing to drive to Alaska, there are numerous opportunities, many of which offer stipends to help offset the your costs for gasoline.

Trailer Life
Trailer Life

Trailer Life is one of the best magazines dedicated to RV living and travel. Well worth the cost of a subscription.

 

How Volunteering Helps You Financially

If you think about it, spending an entire summer season in a gorgeous place that offers all sorts of fun activities would cost you a small fortune, especially if you want to see all of the tourist attractions.

When you volunteer, your main cost is gasoline. After that, you have no camping fees and no utility costs. In some places you are privy to free events that others must pay for, simply because you were willing to help out.

For example, when we worked at Custer State Park, my husband and I, at no cost to us, got to see

  • a live Broadway show every two weeks,
  • every tourist venue in the area and
  • enjoy wild game feeds as guests of the locals we met.

Many of the venues we enjoyed, such as the 1880's train ($80 per person) would have cost a small fortune if they had not been free for us.

How else can you spend an entire summer vacationing in a resort area for an entire summer for just the cost of gasoline and groceries?

I admit, we had a very generous deal when we worked at Custer, but you can find similar ones if you do your homework.

Volunteering Is a Great Way to See America

If you have the time and are willing to trade it for some labor and a camping spot, working as a volunteer is one of the best ways to save money while enjoying your RV trips.

The jobs are usually easy and stress free, are fun to do and allow you to meet many interesting people.

Just remember that if you want to find the best volunteer jobs, you need to learn the facts, start searching early, be willing to negotiate and plan carefully.

Been there. Done that. Loved it!

Good luck!

Do you think volunteering is a good idea for people who travel in RVs?

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© 2015 TIMETRAVELER2

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
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    TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

    ThelmaC: Yes, and there are many others who have volunteered who could tell similar stories. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • ThelmaC profile image

    Thelma Raker Coffone 2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

    I took time this morning to come back to your hub and listen to the interview with the volunteer. It is awesome and I enjoyed hearing his perspective. Glad you included it in the hub.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

    ThelmaC: Always glad to be of service loll! Really, though, there is much more to volunteering than what I wrote here...if you find the right spot, doing this can be so much fun and so enriching. We really loved it, and I think you will, too. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

  • ThelmaC profile image

    Thelma Raker Coffone 2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

    I always enjoy your hubs about RVing and especially liked this one as we are considering the volunteering idea. Lots of good info. Thanks!