Family, friends, campers, strangers…..everyone wants to know, what does it mean to be a camp host. Hosting, or simply volunteering, for your site, can vary from park to park. We are currently campground hosts at Indian Springs State Park. But from here we will be golf course host at Hard Labor Creek State Park. Every park has different needs, and as we have recently learned, you can even host/resident volunteer at historic parks that don’t offer camping to the public. We’ve already got our hosting time accepted for Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys for April 2018. Yes, if you’re thinking of hosting in anywhere in Florida, start planning now!!!
But let me just give you the run down on an average day here at Indian Springs as campground hosts. Our duties are to help guests after hours (after 5pm), clean the comfort stations aka bathrooms, and some other minor campground maintenance, cleaning the sites after checkout, and just making sure everyone is your cliché happy camper!
In the mornings, BJ goes down to check the comfort stations (he is always up and running before me, he generously lets me sleep til I wake up, around 9 or 10). So he makes sure they are still clean, that there’s enough TP and paper towels, usually there isn’t too much that needs to be done. Throughout the course of the day, we take our golf cart (sometimes the bikes) and check the campground. We make sure that those who are set to check out, do, and that the overall needs of the campers are being met. Most of the time no one asks for much, just the occasional attraction advice and directions. We do “rounds”, as we call them, every few hours. We check the comfort stations, ride through the campground and keep an eye on things. Usually there is more than one host, so the park does not expect you to be there 24/7, during the week and during office hours (8-5), you have time to run errands and get away from the park.
Depending on the park, some extra grounds maintenance requests may be asked of the host. Today I spent a handful of hours, spraying weed killer throughout the campground, blowing the road and sites of debris, mopping and cleaning the bathrooms, plus a little weed eating. BJ plans on taking some time on Wednesday to do some mowing. I can’t say for sure that every park will ask these types of jobs from hosts or that there won’t be more asked. Usually there is a set amount of volunteer time that comes with occupying the site. For example, obviously there are two of us, but we together only have to perform a total of 24 hours of volunteer time a week to use our site.
In the evenings we make sure we’re back at the campground by 5 to check-in campers and direct them to open sites. At this particular park the gates close at 10pm, we TRY to stay up til around then to see if anyone comes in. During the week staying up isn’t quite as necessary as the weekends. If we miss someone during the night, we just catch them in the morning. We have had the luxury of having another host with us during our stay, so during the evenings if we want to go out for dinner or visit with friends, we just let the other host know we’ll be out, to be sure they’ll be available. It’s all very symbiotic and we do for each other as much as possible.
The commitments can vary, we may have played it a little too safe with our first hosting gig, thinking we needed to stay close for an extended amount of time while the house sold , employment commitments were met, and whatnot. So we signed on for 5 months here at Indian Springs, and then 4 at Hard Labor Creek. Once we get down to the Keys, we’ll be on for a month at Bahia Honda, then have two months off, then back at Bahia Honda from July to October. We want to try to keep our travel costs as cheap as possible, so staying for longer periods of time help keep fuel costs low and allow us to make part-time job arrangements if we want them. But hosting time-frames can be for only a month or up to 6. Talk to me in a year or two, I may think we should’ve done it differently, but we are very happy with the way things are going at this point.
In my opinion……camp hosting is GREAT! Yeah, there is a bit of manual labor and sometimes the job is messy. But the freedom it provides us to see the country and stay in amazing places is 100% worth it, if nothing else, we’re giving back, which is something I value. Do me a favor and Google Bahia Honda State Park, the view alone is worth more than I can provide by volunteering 24 hours a week for a few months.
The hosting opportunity is ever changing, so I’ll keep you posted as we visit and stay in different parks and states. Some may be more full-timer friendly and others not so much. But I’m excited to attempt it all!
At this point I am by no means an expert, but any info is better than none. We searched for info, trying to really understand what being a host meant and no clear answers were out there. Not sure this is incredibly clear either, but it is a tale of what is going, IRL (LOL), for us.