Camphosting is a work arrangement where RVers work for a campground in exchange for a campsite (and sometimes a wage). This is a review of our first camphosting job.
As with any “job” there were good and not-so-good parts. Here’s a sampling of what we experienced:
- The other three camphost couples (and their dogs)
- Tom, the surfer, and his wife Terry (thanks for the delicious Labor Day dinner)
- The couple providing Miranda her first dog-sitting job (while they visited Victoria for the day)
- The Dutch family with the motorhome-driving Mom
- The two smiley “tweeners” who daily came in to the shack to buy a sweet
- The Maryland couple in site 27
- The Australian couple who had to stop at the office to say Goodbye (wish we’d had more time to visit!)
- The Scottsdale couple and their Westies (Miranda was hired to watch them for a day)
The Port Angeles Area
- Library cards that allowed us to check out 5 items each (We’ve missed checking out library books)
- West End Pizza where we ate for less than $20 (once treated by Harrison).
- Independent Bible Church (although the church lacked in “welcoming” new people, the teaching was good and we appreciated attending the same place each week)
- The ‘Nasty Chinese Restaurant (a source of chuckles for our family every time we drove by) and a good meal (Miranda’s treat)
The Olympic Peninsula
- The Quinn family only 2 hours away (loved visiting with you!)
- The waterfalls (Madison, Merrymere, and Sol Duc)
- Hurricane Ridge (including the hike Crissa didn’t think she could complete)
- Hoh (temperate) Rain Forest
- Kalaloch National Park campground on the Pacific coastline (where our friends, the Quinns, were camphosting)
- Neah Bay (smoked salmon snack and Cape Flattery view)
- Watching several different types of ships going through the Straits including military submarines escorted by military and coast guard ships
- Animals - baby seals, many black-tailed deer, bald eagles, starfish, anemones, crabs, sea urchins, and other sea creatures
- Quiet and dark park at night for most of the summer
- Laundry facilities on-site
- Kids earning money by picking mat-weeds (Harrison made a killing)
- Several great sunsets
- Being parked for the two months allowed Mike to crank out a big client project, gave us a free full-hook-up camping spot, and kept our fuel costs down.
- Any time we went exploring, Crissa experienced car-sickness. The two hour drive out to Neah Bay was bad. She tried Dramamine, but the side effects (tiredness and a numb face) weren’t much better.
- We only enjoyed 3 days of warm, sunny summer weather. Literally. Most of the other days included heavy fog, wind, and temps in the low 60s.
- There wasn’t much for the kids to do while at the campground. We’d hoped the beach would be a hit for Miranda but she didn’t much care for the kelp and sandfleas.
- The fee structure at the campground limited the number of families, so the kids didn’t have many playmates.
- We had mice in the trailer.
- Free showers and laundry were not provided to camp-hosts. The showers required quarters (1 1/2 minutes per quarter), so the kids and Crissa took showers in the trailer.
- During many week-night shifts Crissa would sit in the office for hours with nothing to do (no phone calls, no guest visits, already dusted and swept and emptied the trash, etc.)
- The salty air took its toll on our bikes, truck and trailer. I’m seeing things with rust on them that were fine before.
- I’ve never been as micromanaged at any job as this one:
- We were watched from afar. Arrangement of owners home, beach and campground is such that they could use either a telescope or binoculars to watch the beach and most of the RV park from their home.
- We were constantly getting calls at the office to run people off the beach, get dogs back on a leash, etc. because they had been spotted through the lens.
- We were listened to. The park owners provided radios to the hosts for communication and then monitored the channel all day.
- The park owners wouldn’t respond using the radio directly as “guests may hear that, who knows who is listening, etc” so after a host radio conversation the owners would call the office person on the phone to give their orders.
- There were not enough tables to have one per site. As camp hosts we rarely had one as it got used for campers when the park got busy.
I’ve got 32 tables for 34 campsites and can’t figure out why we’re still moving tables all the time.Park Owner
- Already short on tables, the owners order a table refinishing project during the summer busy season.
- We were constantly shuffling tables around, only giving big group of tenters one table as “they can share”.
- Tables were too heavy to move by one person, so we had to call owners down to move them for us.
Owner Liability Concerns
- Sign on candy dish in front office: “___ doesn’t want small children to have candy as it is a choking hazard.”
- Miranda was told she could not put a sign in the office advertising a dog-sitting service because it would be a “liability”.
- Harrison was not allowed to drive the camp golf cart while doing campground chores because it was a “liability” and he was an “unlicensed driver” (on private property).
Someone tripped on the (broken) front concrete in front of the office so the table is there to make them go around.Park Owner
- Electric stops working on a site, so it becomes a tent-only site. Same price as other tent sites that have working electric (but with 30A service only).
- All electric breakers for campsites were located in a central box, so if a camper tripped a breaker the camp-hosts had to deal with it.
- The park has 4 showers but one needs a repair so is locked and used for storage.
- An RV dumped and overflowed the septic, a camp host (not us) went and cleaned it up using doggy bags for the solids, and used Clorox around the spill.
- The site is “rested” for a week with no further action by owner. Tenters scheduled to camp in that site the next weekend.
- Water leak in park. No secondary shut-offs so entire park is w/o water while repair is made. Split in water pipe repaired with section of rubber and hose clamps.
- Leak becomes visible on ground by office septic. Water is turned off, rendering the office bathroom unusable.
- Office people can either “walk to the bathrooms or go back to their own coaches”. This happens on 8/6, owner has no intentions of fixing until after Labor Day.
- Low point in the bathroom septic system is the floor drain in the men’s room. The system is not emptied on a regular basis, but only after it backs up onto the floor and host cleans it up a couple of times thinking a camper has made a mess (thankfully not on our shift).
- Owners never gave feedback. If you saw something that needed to be done (areas mowed/weedwacked etc) and took the initiative to do the work you would never hear “thanks, that looks much better”, etc.
- The park’s beach front is private and abuts a public county park with the property line being the middle of a creek that runs to the Straits. While the road (past the county park parking lot) has signs, and the county park’s parking lot info signs delineates the boundary line, the only signage on the actual beachfront is an old, rusted, and barely legible “no trespassing” sign on a pole at one end, and a telephone pole with rainbow stripes at the other.
- On nice weekend days there are usually many people that cross the creek to sit on the less-busy beach. The owners either call the park office to have the desk person relay a message to the male camp host to “check some people on the beach” or they pair up themselves and sweep the beach, telling people about the boundaries and that the land is private but they can register for a $6 per-person-and-dog day use permit.
- When we took the job the beach security was downplayed and positioned as something only done while we were “picking up trash on the beach”. When we got there I was suddenly expected to “make a quick check of the bathrooms then head down to the beach” (to spend the entire afternoon there) when my shift started at 2:00 on a busy weekend.
- I was taken along on a couple of beach sweeps by the owner and walked along with him as he chased people off. It was done in an aggressive manner - not in the “carry a bucket, pick up trash and if you happen to bump into someone” manner it was described to us as before taking the job. He quickly walked after people, and doubled back if they didn’t move fast enough for his liking. He received verbal abuse from a couple of people. He wore nothing with the park name on it and produced no means of identification, yet people did what he wanted them to and mostly without question.
- The owner has “caught” people who had walked up from the county park on the private beach and made them walk 1/2 mile back down the blacktop road. One couple was in their 60’s at least - and had no shoes.
- The owners started a “contest” for camp hosts to see who could “register the most people on the beach”. The beach registrations were not mentioned to us before taking the job, and the contest has never been formally presented to us - only paperwork left laying about the office regarding it.
- Remember all the concern over liability? The owners had no trouble sending mostly retired camp-hosts down to the beach - alone - to take part in a potentially hostile action (running people off the beach) with only a radio for backup.
Other “Law Enforcement”
- Owners continually chase people off the road - even if they stop dead in the middle just to take a quick photo. They say it’s a “private road”. The county sheriff deputy I spoke to says “it’s an argument” but from his perspective since the country maintains it, it appears on maps, and the owners don’t have gates at either end - it’s a public road. There is probably an easement meaning some of the shoulder is public as well - but there is no standard width for easements in this county and I would have had to talk to the road commission to find out what it is for this specific road.
- We were told to enforce keeping dogs on leashes since it’s “a county law”. The officer I spoke to checked with an animal control officer and told me the county has a law saying your dog “must be under your control” - which means if it’s a well-behaved dog it does not need to be on a leash. However we are on private property so the owner sets the rule - and is responsible for any issues raised by an out of control dog.