History of Camp Hosting — Volunteers on Public Lands
For many years, work camping was dominated by volunteer host programs in the National Parks and National Forests. Hosts, often retired couples, would manage a campground for the summer camping season in exchange for a free site for their RV or travel trailer. Most public campgrounds have special host sites which often (but not always!) have full hookups, even when the campground they are managing is primitive.
Camp host jobs vary greatly from campground to campground, but almost all require taking fees from campers, cleaning bathrooms, and light grounds maintenance (such as raking fire puts, blowing leaves, etc.) Hosts with maintenance skills are always in demand.
Evolution of Work Camping — Private, Paid Camp Host Positions
Over the past 30 years, public agencies such as the National Park Service and the US Forest Service have turned to private concessionaires to manage many of the larger public recreation facilities. These private companies, which include companies like Aramark and Recreation Resource Management, bid for the right to operate these facilities, generally paying the government a percentage of their revenue as rent (you can learn more about public concession programs here).
Today, while volunteer host jobs are still available, many public campgrounds are run by private companies under special concession contracts. Unlike the government, private for-profit companies cannot legally accept volunteer labor (to learn more about labor law and camp hosting, see here). Most of these private companies now pay their work campers by the hour. Typically, camp hosts will work a certain number of hours (10-20) a week for their site, after which they are paid an hourly wage. The net result is that work campers will typically get their site plus $500-$800 a month in wages.
Recreation Resource Management — A leading private employer of paid camp hosts
RRM is one of the largest private employers of camp hosts, employing over 450 camp hosts from all over the country. RRM employs hosts at over 175 parks in 10 states, in some of the most beautiful locations in the country. Don’t look for us on a concrete pad next to the Interstate Highway — all our locations are in National Forests, National Parks or State Parks.