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The History and Evolution of Work Camping

by ATJ Posted in The Alaska Experience Blog |

The History and Evolution of Work Camping

If you’ve ever dreamed about a nomadic life, seeing the world and trying new experiences—and are happy to live in an RV or tent—work camping might be for you. Work camping in the United States has a long history and has evolved over the years. Here’s a rundown of what it is, how it’s changed and why it might just be one of the best ways to see the more of the U.S.

What is work camping?

Work camping is exactly what it sounds like. It’s working while you live in a camp situation, like an RV, tent or van. Often it’s a seasonal gig, but every opportunity we offer at Alaska Tour Jobs is full time. It can give you a paycheck, but sometimes work camping is work in exchange for free camping. Some work campers live in their van/RV/tent just for a seasonal gig and go back to their homes at the end of the season. Some people work camp year round, maybe even moving from one work camping gig to another, chasing seasonal jobs. Often the jobs are at a campground.

How did it start?

Work camping has evolved from the concept of campground hosts for organizations like the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. Often a special “host” campsite was provided free to an individual or couple—often retirees—for an entire season in exchange for the host performing duties like collecting fees, cleaning the area and keeping an eye out on the campground.

What’s it like now?

These days, most parks contract with private concessionaires to provide hosting services. So those work-campers aren’t working directly for the public park. And since those companies can’t legally use volunteer labor, they pay their camp hosts a wage on top of providing the campsite.

Work camping jobs aren’t just limited to parks, though. Businesses like private RV parks, Christmas tree farms or amusement parks often hire on a work-camping basis.

At Alaska Tour Jobs, we offer RV hookups for people who work at our lodges and guest services sites. Drive a tour bus or offer assistance to guests while enjoying living the work camper lifestyle.

If you’re excited to explore the outdoors, living at a campsite will leave you with more time to enjoy the nature in the area. Lots of work camp jobs are filled by retirees who have time to spare and enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people. As more millennials are taking up the freelance work life, many of them are moving into vans and RVs and looking for similar gigs as well.

What are the perks?

The obvious perk to work camping is saving money on housing. Often, work camp positions can be in beautiful places that would otherwise be expensive to visit or live in. Also, work camp employers often provide free Wi-Fi, fuel or laundry. Many of these jobs are also seasonal, leaving the rest of the year to either work different jobs or travel more.

While the work camp life might not be for everyone—you have to enjoy a simpler life with fewer belongings around you—it’s a wonderful way to see new places and make some money while you’re away from your permanent home. Stacking one work camp gig after another is a way to string together a life of travel. And we love work campers at Holland America-Princess, so there are plenty of opportunities to explore.

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