Do you enjoy camping so much, you wish it could be a full-time job? Well, it can be (sort of) when you volunteer to be a state park campground host.
Hosts serve as “live-in” ambassadors for a campground. In exchange for a free campsite, the volunteer host takes on certain responsibilities. Although the specific job duties of a campground host vary from park to park, and state to state, here are the basics of what you need to know if you’re thinking about being a state park campground host.
Clear your schedule (seriously)
First, you need to have some free time on your hands. Perhaps you are retired, working a job that entails long stretches of time off, or simply independently wealthy and living the dream. At least one of those should be true if you hope to be a state park campground host, because the gig typically stretches from one to six months.
Be ready to roll up your sleeves!
What these 30 days to 6 months will be spent doing depends on the park and the state, but one thing is certain: it’s not just a free, relaxing, carefree stay at the parks! (But wouldn’t that be nice?) Generally, hosts are expected to set an example to other campers by being model campers, following the rules and regulations, and demonstrating exemplary housekeeping practices.
That’s not all! Being a campground host involves more than just being on your best camper behavior and showing the other visitors how it’s done. Parks can require anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of work a week! (Remember when we said camping could sort of be a full-time job?) Common host duties include offering visitor information, explaining rules and regulations, distributing brochures and maps, collecting fees, performing emergency repairs, staffing museums, stores, and visitor centers, conducting light maintenance, working on park projects, helping with general housekeeping, and keeping park staff in the loop.
If that sounds like a lot of work, you may be interested in hosting with your better half. Couples can usually split the required workload, and surely 10 hours a week sounds a lot sweeter than 20 when you consider the benefits.
The trade off
You may be wondering why anyone would sign up for such a hefty responsibility. As it is with most jobs, there are some perks involved! The first and foremost perk is free camping. While you’re hosting, you’ll get to camp at the state park free of charge. The free goodies don’t stop there. Pet fees and usage fees for park amenities (such as rentals, boating, swimming, etc.) are often reduced or waived. Some hosts who serve for an extra lengthy amount of time may even be offered a cabin.While those are some of the material benefits to being a state park campground host, let’s not forget another very important perk: providing a useful service! Your time spent hosting will allow you to help countless campers in need, and help to maintain the park campgrounds that we all love so much.
Are you campground host material?
Aside from a willingness to volunteer to be a state park campground host, there are a few other things you should possess.
You have to be a people person, since the primary purpose of hosting is to help out your fellow campers and park staff. Campground hosts should be outgoing, helpful, and friendly. If you’re worried you might panic if someone asks you to help them with a flat, you might want to reconsider.Physical prowess is also a must. We don’t mean you have to be Fabio, but you should at least be physically capable of performing your hosting duties and working the required amount of time each day and week.
Oh, and you should also have camping equipment. While the state park will hook you up with a campsite, they typically don’t furnish it for you.
If you feel you’re a good fit for a campground hosting gig, contact your state park system to inquire about opportunities. Contact information for the state park systems can be found in your Pocket Ranger® app, which, by the way, can also give you the skinny on all of the state park campgrounds, so you can do your research beforehand.
Have you ever been a state park campground host? Leave a comment and let us know how it went!