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Friday, August 9, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Campground Host

Thought I would write a little bit about our campground hosting at High Cliff State Park.

Last spring, we signed up for a full month of hosting, filled out a contract and application, and then got assigned the month of August. (we had a choice of two different months, but chose August)

Once we were approved, we got to move out to the site on Aug 1 after the last hosts vacated.  Our site has the electricity furnished, but no water or sewer hookups.  (neither do the other sites)   So after about 2 weeks, we will have to drive over to the dump station and empty our tanks and take on new water.

We got training manuals, a tote of supplies, including a weather radio, keys and wonderful little Cub Cadet to run around the park in.   We get to wear vests with namebadges, identifying that we are hosts.

Our position here at the state park has duties of campfire pit cleaning, picnic area grill cleaning, and most important, being here on the site to answer questions and hand out literature for questions from the campers in the park.  We are to put in 20 hours a week. There are no wages.

Some hosting positions in other places entail bathroom cleaning, dealing with unruly campers, or collecting fees.  We don't have to do any of that.   It's a pretty posh position!   In return, we get a free campsite, worth $620 for the month.

8 a.m.
Since Steveio also works in the park, I usually drive him over in the morning to his maintenance building office.  With a kiss and a sip of coffee, he is off doing his normal 8 hour day.

I come back to the motorhome and either work on a blog, catch up on emails or do some routine housework about the rig.

9 a.m.
I don't like to start cleaning campfire pits too early because of the noise level of banging cans and shovels as I work my way around the campground.   I have a master list of who left, who is leaving and who is staying.   The campground has 112 campsites to clean, and also 8 group sites each capable of holding 40 people or so.

It seems I clean about 10-15 sites a day.  That takes me about an hour or so.   I shovel out the firepit, pick up any litter and write down any damages or repairs needed or dead trees I see.

My little Cub Cadet holds 2 large ash cans, 4 smaller buckets, a garbage can and a recycling can.  I have various rakes, shovels, and trash picking tools.  AND NICE LEATHER GLOVES!  (a necessity!~)

Little Duke sure likes riding along with me.  I know I put this pic in the other day, but it's so cute I put it in again!   He likes getting little pets from the kids, and he hops out and "helps" me clean the pits.  Mostly he is searching the ground for any tidbits left behind!  (and yes, I have him on a leash at all times)

After I get a full load of ashes, it's time to get them dumped.  We have a large dumpster up by the maintenance building specifically for campfire ashes.  That way if there are any glowing coals or embers, they are contained in a large open area.

I back it up carefully to the ledge, but Steve comes over and unloads my big cans for me. 
(I am on a 20 pound lifting limit from the docs) 
Sometimes I am making two or three trips to get rid of ashes from all the cans and buckets. 

11 a.m.
Once that is done, I log the hours on my paperwork and head back to my campsite.  Remember the big storm I said we had in my last blog post?  Well, the roadways were covered with leaves and twigs.   Marlin, a volunteer at the park here, drove through with a tractor and a big blower device.  It cleaned up the roads fast and makes them look good again in no time!   This unit is also used in the fall for clearing the leaves. 

12 p.m.
Our site is located in the middle of the campground.  There is a sign in front of our site, inviting people to come into our site to ask questions.  We have a full file box of information about everything in the area and lists of things we can use to answer questions.

The sign was a bit of a problem because trees have grown up since it had been placed near the driveway of the site.  Kinda blocks it from view until you are right in front of the site.  So Steve decided it should be moved!   He wanted it closer to the nice walkway of lined white rocks (that I painted) to better align it for greeting people into our campsite.

 here is where it was

But this is what Steveio showed up in at our campsite to take care of moving the sign!!!!
What a Big Boy Sandbox Toy!!!!

He carefully hooked a chain to the top loop over the sign post, and lifted it off the ground!   The base was poured into a large concrete square that was really above the ground, but grown into the dirt and moss.

He carried it over about 30 feet to the better position near the nice walkway entrance to our campsite. 
Much nicer than having people entering at the drive around our cars and maintenance vehicles.

1 p.m. 
After lunch, I headed on down to the picnic area.  I had cleaned all the grills well last week, every single one in the park (I think there are about 60?)  But over the weekend some had been used.  So I wanted them all clean again for the upcoming picnickers this weekend.  Within an hour, I had them all done and picked up some trash around the park along the way.

2 p.m. 
I stopped at the main office building to turn in some paperwork, and what did I see????  Hmmmm a cute workman's butt?   I am the only one who can say that without accruing sexual harassment charges!~   Tee heee..... Steveio was working on some light fixtures over the kiosk at the main entrance lot.

3 p.m.
I came back to the motorhome now to catch up on some internet, emails and facebook.  I gathered the laundry because we were heading back to our house for the evening to do some projects and cut the grass and catch up the laundry.  We do have a washer/dryer in the motorhome, but since we don't have a water hookup, it would be using up 12 gallons of our water supply with each load.  We only have 100 gallons of water on board and want to make that last for 2 weeks.    We do have a portable water bladder and pumping device if we do run short, and can haul water that way to put into our motorhome if needed.

4 p.m.
Steve is done with his work for the day, and so am I.  We hop in the car with Dukie Palooki and head on home to Chilton, only 14 miles away.  I got the laundry going while Steve was cutting lawn.  Soon I watered all my flowers and bushes, and Duke made the rounds of his yard sniffing duties to see what has been in our yard during the week.  I cooked up a supper with odds and ends left in the fridge and freezer.  Most of our food is at the campground.

5 p.m. 
Steve started up the saw and air compressor to put up the rest of the trim in the bathroom while we were waiting for the last load of the dryer to finish up.   I will do a blog post about our bathroom remodel later on with all the pics in one post.   We hopped in the shower too while at home, to enjoy a longer one without limiting the water usage.

I loaded up my sockknitting machine to take back to the park and work on some orders....  and we picked up a few groceries to replenish for the weekend at the motorhome.

8 p.m. 
We are back in our campsite, and sitting in our lawn chairs enjoying the darkening woods and listening to a bit of rowdy kids making the rounds and definitely using their "outdoor voices"  ....   by 9 p.m. I shined a flashlight on them as they passed our site, and nicely, but firmly said "it's time to turn down the volume now kids"    and they did.  

We answered a few questions from passing campers:
Why are the dumpsters located so far from the campground sites?
--- to keep the smells away and the nighttime raiding varmints and critters out of the campsites.

Why are only some sites electric and not others?
--- state law about ratio of electric (improved) sites to the total amount of sites overall.

Where can my dog swim?
---  there is an area down by the marina specific for doggies to enjoy the water, as well as a separate picnic area set aside for the use of picnickers with doggies. 

The night was pleasant, and we sat out in our chairs.  I think we had 9 or 10 different folks stop by our site. We touched base with the ranger on duty and then turned in for the night by 10 p.m.

.....and that is a day in the life of a Campground Host at High Cliff State Park! 


  1. Sounds like you're having a great time! I have a question about the painted rocks. Did you just use ordinary house paint? I have some indoor paint and a bunch of rocks that need it but didn't know if that would work.

    1. Sandy, it was some exterior paint that was up in the shop... Nothing special, but it was made for outdoor use.

  2. Your camphost duties seem a fair trade for your site. I'm really surprised that the sites do not have water. I guess I am used to seeing state parks with water and electric and the camphosts often have sewer for their site as well. Since you have big tanks, it isn't too difficult to last a couple of weeks without water hookup.

  3. Makes for busy, but interesting, day. That header pictures makes your RV look 60 feet long (grin). What is it? Fortyfour? My diesel pusher is only thrityeight feet but weighs over 26,001 pounds or more. That means a special driving license is required. More on that in my next blog posting.

  4. I like your day much better than my day. Sounds much more relaxing. Glad that you are enjoying yourselves and your hosting job.


  5. I love how you always leave an area better than you find it! You both have wonderful ideas for improvement, and have the knowledge and ability to follow through...

    Looks like a wonderful place to spend August! :-)

  6. Kevin... the quiet time is 10pm, but these little rugrats were in a pack of 10 or 12 kids, circling the campground round and round shrieking screaming and yelling. You could hear them throughout the whole 112 campsites. So there is a provision that if someone is interfering with the enjoyment of others on their own sites, it's time to "shush" them down a bit.

  7. Your day sounds wonderful. Some work, some fun, some chores, some relaxation. Perfect! You sound like good camp hosts. I'm sure when a camp host is enjoying their duties, they do a much better job. I hope you are both appreciated.

    Thanks for the Day in the Life! :)

  8. I need you to come shush my neighbor who thinks its OKAY to come outside with his electric guitar and play until 2 am.

  9. A day in the life of....sounds lovely!

  10. Your descriptions of the job are very interesting!
    So glad that you are enjoying it and that Duke gets to be a working dog!( riding in the cub cadet)

  11. We loved campground hosting!! Brings back memories (good ones). Our duties were almost exactly the same as yours. I am so glad we didn't have to do the bathrooms, why I hate doing my own let alone public ones.
    Enjoy your time...August will be over before you know it.
    Looking forward to updates on the house when you have a change!

  12. Sure enjoyed your day! Quite different from our camp host day, but also similar. I'll do a write up so you can compare... One major difference is size, we only have 17 sites and we are the only Nat'l Forest folks around... also we have full hookups.

    Love your photos... I envy your skills!

  13. I can never quite figure out this camp ground hosting bit ? If one of you has to work 20 hours per week and there are 4.3 weeks per month thats 86 hours for 1 person x $8 per hour min wage that equals like $688.

    if 2 of you work its $1,376 in wages.

    Either figure seams like a butt load of money for a site with only electricity ? A free campsite at $620.

    How is it hat these Campground owners get folks to willing work for 1/2 or less then min wages ? and is that even legal in these days with so many gov regulations ?

  14. Over the Top Cargo Trailer asked a very good question. I will reply in a post titled "Sometimes It's Not Just About the Money" that I am going to write in a bit....


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