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We workamp in the summer. We typically decide on an area we would like to see in depth. We then find a job in that area - this gives us a "free" base to see the area from, and we enjoy the work. We have generally worked in commercial campgrounds, and have enjoyed the experience. We don't do it for the money, but it does minimize expenses. You would find it difficult to live on a workamping job if you did not have supplemental income. Additional info on workamping can be found at Workamper News. Our workamping resume is available here.

Since 2005 we have worked at Diamond Campground in Woodland Park, CO. For us, it is a great place to work with lots to do during our free days. The owners treat their workamper's great. We work a 2 on/4 off schedule so there is plenty of time to do things. For some pictures of Diamond and some more details of our amenities take a look at our Picasa Album Diamond Campground. Be sure to view it via the slideshow to see our captions.

Probably the best description of Workamping, and the factors surrounding it that a potential workamper would want to understand, are at Howard and Linda Payne's RV-Dreams website. They also cover some of the tax implications of workamping.

Kirk and Pam Wood probably have more experience with volunteer positions than any other fulltimer. They have been volunteering almost continuously since beginning to fulltime in their RV in 2000. Last I counted they had worked 23 separate positions - all as volunteers. They describe each of these on their website, The Adventure Begins Here. If you want to get a feel for volunteering, there is no better source of information that I am aware of.


Workamping (Volunteering) At Arches National Park


Arches National Park is one of the most unique and beautiful parks in the west. It is located in Moab, UT – the center of outdoor pursuits in the southwest. There is world-class biking, 4-wheeling, hiking, climbing, river running and natural beauty. We were campground hosts at Arches for the months of March and April, 2007 and 2008.


The campground at Arches National Park (NP) is located 18 miles from the entry gate to the park. It is a “primitive” campground of 54 sites, with three restrooms and dishwashing sinks. There are no hookups for the campers, and water is only available at the restrooms. There is no dump station in the Park; the nearest dump station is in Moab, about 23 miles away.


Arches Cabin Exterior.jpg (45789 bytes)Arches Cabin Kitchen.jpg (41546 bytes)There are two campground host sites. One is a very nice cabin at the campground entrance. There is room to park an RV, but there are no RV hookups at the cabin site. You can supply enough electric to your RV to keep the batteries charged by running an extension cord from the cabin. The cabin has conventional residential bathroom facilities, a gas oven, gas residential heat and a solar-based electric system. The second host site (site 35) is an RV site located near the third restroom. We were located on the RV site.






Arches CG Site 35 a.jpg (114959 bytes)Arches CG Bathouse Solar.jpg (116299 bytes)The host RV site (the left picture- you can see our truck) has sewer, water and electricity. The electric for the entire campground is solar based, although there is a large generator available for backup. This generator supports the maintenance complex which is about a mile away. It is rarely needed for the hosts, but can be manually switched to charge the host site batteries if required.  The RV site 35 (host site) solar array consists of twenty 48-volt solar panels on the roof of the restroom. Power from the solar array is stored in a bank of twenty four (24) 24-volt gel batteries, and processed through dual Trace 4.1 kilowatt inverters. Fifty amp RV electrical service is available at the host site, on two 120-volt power legs (this is conventional campground wiring). The solar system is a large one, but it still only supports 4000 watts to the RV site (on each service leg). The “suggested” load is no more than 12 amps continuous. It will, of course, handle much higher peak loads. We had no trouble at all in running our microwave, with TV on, etc. pulling 22-25 amps AC for a couple of minutes. You can not, however, use a convection oven for cooking. It simply draws too much power for too long of a period. Plan on doing long oven cooking either with a gas oven, or outside on a gas grill – which is what we prefer, anyway. You can not run air conditioning on this system. You can run a single small electric space heater on the low setting for several hours, depending on the state of the battery bank, but you should plan to use non-electric heating devices like catalytic or blue flame heaters for best results and comfort. Heat pumps should not be used - they simply draw too much power.


Our experience with this system has been positive – we have no trouble in using all the normal RV items, including electric hair dryers, and all of our TV, lighting and computer needs. We use the microwave for short heating tasks, and use our outside gas grill for baking and in place of the convection oven. We do not bake in the convection oven. I even leave our truck plugged into the electric and on a trickle charger.


If necessary, you could supplement your power supply with your own generator. You would be restricted to running this during the normal generator hours; 0800-1000, 1600-2200 hrs.


Arches CG HL_JD.jpg (45096 bytes)In our opinion, the prime months to host in Arches are March, April, May and October. March may be cold at the beginning of the month, but rapidly warms up. We hosted in March and April in 2007 and 2008 (the picture to the left is of us and Howard and Linda Payne, who hosted with us in 2008, taken from our RV site). In late February 2007 we had snow but it rapidly melted. In early March we had a week of very cold weather, with the low going down to 15 degrees. Daily highs during this period were in the 40’s, but with the sun out and little wind it was actually quite nice outside. We used about 40 lbs (9.3 gallons) of propane every 6 days during late February and early March. The Park will reimburse you for your propane, but you have to get it in town. In the case of a motorhome, it is most convenient if you have an “extenda-stay” connection to your propane tank that enables you to use external cylinders. There are two twenty pound propane cylinders in the host shed at site 35 that you can use, but this requires your motorhome to be plumbed properly. I strongly recommend that you do this if you plan to be hosts in March or October.


Site 35 (the host RV site) was rehabilitated for the 2008 season. It now has a very nice concrete pad, and enough room for any size rig, including a 45' motorhome. Our 38’ fifth wheel fits in just fine, with room in front of it for our semi-truck and Jeep.  A 40’ fifth wheel would fit the same as our 38’.  There is plenty of room for a fire pit, chairs, picnic table, etc. to the curb side of the RV. The site has a nice fire ring, but you must obtain your own firewood. Usually, there are enough scraps left in the campground to support at least four fires a week.


If you would like to be campground hosts at Arches I would recommend calling the park DIRECTLY, and ask for the volunteer coordinator.


The “Work”


As with most campground hosting jobs, your primary responsibility is to act as a presence in the campground, perform fee compliance, and help campers with questions. This is especially the case in Arches, where the campground is 18 miles from the visitor center.


The campsites are divided into “first come, first served” and reservation sections. The reservations are handled outside the Park system through, so the Park has little control over the reserved sites other than helping people find them. The Hosts do have control over the non-reservable sites (called Category 1 sites). Because the campground is so far from the entry gate, and to avoid the problem of people driving eighteen miles only to find a full campground, the Park requires that people obtain a camping site envelope at the park entrance gate. These envelopes are given out at 0730 on an available basis. Leftover sites (not given out at the 0730 “lineup”) are given out at the gate as people request campsites. There are only 24 sites available via this method (sites 25 to 54 are on the reservation system). In order for the Visitor Center to know how many sites are available, the hosts call in the number of sites that will be available for the next day at 1800 hrs the day before. At 0630 the on-duty Hosts walk the campground and remove the registration slips from the sites of people leaving that day. New category 1 campers may then select sites from those available (those with empty boxes) – sites in category 1 are not assigned.


The Host’s primary job is to maintain a compliance sheet containing all campsites. They collect registration info from the tickets at the campsites, or directly from the campers. This includes license plate number, number of people, number of tents, etc. Providing this info, pulling the tickets in the morning, and calling in the available sites at 1800 hrs means the host needs to make a pass through the campground at least 3 times a day – 0630 hrs., sometime mid-day, and 1600 hrs. At 2000 hrs we generally walk the campground to ensure compliance with generator hours.  At 2200 hrs I will walk portions of the campground to ensure quiet hours compliance if I know I have "rambunctious" campers. There is no requirement to walk the campground – you can drive the cart if you want - but the 0630 pass is best done on foot, since you have to look at every site box. The campground “round” is about 1.2 miles – the 0630 round takes about an hour. We combine the 0630 round with walking our dog. This is the “hardest” part of the job, but has some great side benefits – such as seeing spectacular sunrises over the red rock.  One side note: the campground is hilly - you need to be in at least moderate physical condition in our opinion.


The duty cycle is an alternating 3 or 4 days on, followed by 4 or 3 days off – so you work basically half a week. When on duty you are responsible for all aspects of the campground – site compliance, selling firewood, answering questions, handling problems and emergencies – 24hrs a day. Generally, you can get to bed by 2200 hrs. but in rare instances you may be up later. People asking for firewood are rare after 2100 hrs. Generally, any late night “knocks on the door” are because of 1) “Someone is in my campsite” or 2) Noise. This does not happen often, in our experience, and you will learn how to minimize it.


When on duty, only one of you has to be at the campground – the other can go to town and shop, wash clothes, etc. However, the 0630 round is best done together. When not performing other duties the on-duty hosts can relax at their site, work on their rig, etc. But one must remain available in the campground.


There is no requirement to perform maintenance, clean fire pits, maintain or clean restrooms, etc.  We pick up trash where we see it, and will remove bottles and trash from fire pits when we notice it.


Communication to the rest of the Park system is via commercial radio. There is a repeater on the La Sal Mountains so reception is generally very good. The radios are high quality and generally clear and understandable. You will have to learn proper radio protocol. In emergencies your radio is your primary method of communication. Cell phones will reliably work from the campground only if you have an external antenna. Without a cellular amplifier you will have intermittent service at the cabin even with an external antenna. From site 35 only an external antenna is needed. If you have a personal requirement for constant cell phone availability I strongly suggest you buy an amplifier and external antenna. Look in the Communication section for information on your options. Internet access with a Verizon cellular air card works fine from Site 35 with an amplifier. However, the high speed available throughout the main areas of Moab is slower at the campground. Speeds of 300kbps are about average.


Emergencies and backup support is handled by the Park Law Enforcement Rangers. They are available 24 hrs a day, but the reality is that later at night you may not be able to directly contact them via radio. Even during the day they may be as many as 18 miles away. In a true emergency you have two options if you can not directly contact Law Enforcement Rangers. The first is to use your cell phone and dial 911. This puts you in direct contact with County emergency dispatch. They are familiar with the Park system, have the contact numbers for the Rangers, and will directly contact them on your behalf or provide other assistance as required. You can also contact the County Dispatch Center via your radio, on a different channel than the Park uses. This is the same channel that civilian law enforcement uses. The Law Enforcement Rangers are great to work with and will be your primary contact with Park personnel. They go out of their way to be helpful.


Arches Helicopter Rescue.jpg (648267 bytes)Medical emergencies are coordinated by the Park Law Enforcement Rangers. There are trained EMTs that are generally the first responders. These may be law enforcement, or other Park employees. Generally the response is fast and overwhelming – they take medical calls seriously, and have a good protocol worked out. However, if you have a life threatening emergency in the campground or far out in the Park they may not get to you in time. It just depends on where people are. Serious injuries/medical conditions, and any case where the person was ever unconscious, are air lifted out to Grand Junction, CO, which is the nearest trauma hospital.