Volunteering and Workcamping

January 24, 2008 by Dianne OKeeffe · 9 Comments  
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Terry and I have always worked, whether self employed or in a professional position. When we retired and hit the road we thought we would be happy wandering around aimlessly, being vagabonds and checking out every corner of our wonderful country. We had lots to keep us busy. Terry is into HAM radio, fixing things, bicycling and hiking…I love to bike, hike, crochet, read…I can always find something to keep me occupied. We stayed busy for a couple of years.

Our second summer on the road saw us in the Pismo Beach area where I filled in for the assistant manager of the park. I liked it and we decided to look for something new to keep us busy. As we had lived in the middle of the largest state park in the US, we were familiar with camp hosting. We applied to a State Park and were hired immediately.

Volunteering…what does it entail? Just about anything. We have volunteered with three different state park systems, county parks and wildlife refuges. We have manned the kiosk, visitor centers, collected fees, made reservations, sold firewood and answered a million questions. I have schooled horses at a state facility that has a therapeutic riding program for the disabled. Terry has worked maintenance, run tractors and mowers and whatever needs to be done. We have cleaned fish tanks, fed alligators and interacted with the public. Our backgrounds prepared us for much of the work, but we have also learned new skills.

Volunteering generally does not include any type of monetary compensation. We work a certain number of hours weekly for our site, utilities and other perks. It may be laundry, use of boats, or canoes, horses and vehicles. The main compensation for us is the opportunity to live in places we would never be able to otherwise…right on the beach in California, the Pautuxent River in Maryland, on a lake in South Dakota. We feel we are giving back to the community and helping to keep our public lands open to everyone.

Workcamping is a different story. It generally involves working in the private sector such as campgrounds, RV parks, concessionaires for federal parks such as Yellowstone. They may be positions which ask for a certain number of hours worked for a site and utilities and no monetary compensation. There may be pay after a certain number of hours are worked. Perks may be just about anything such use the use of laundry, propane, pools, golf course, discounts at the campground store.

We have had only two workcamping positions beside my assistant manager stint. We have worked for four seasons at a resort where we are very involved with the daily operations. Terry is the maintenance and greens manager, computer guru, and security head. I am in charge of the landscaping, baker at the restaurant, and cook at the remote fish camp 18 miles up river. We are paid a good wage and have many, many perks such as golf, river trips, meals and the camaraderie of some of the finest folks we will ever meet.

Volunteering and workamping keeps us busy, we learn new skills and it certainly helps the budget. We love what we are doing and hope to do it for many more years. Our lives as fulltimers has been one of the most satisfying we have ever had, but without the wonderful people we meet on the road it would be dull indeed.

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9 Responses to “Volunteering and Workcamping”

  1. wyalusingwillie on January 24th, 2008 1:51 pm

    While we do not workcamp, we do work as volunteers at a local state campground during a few months of the summer. We do enjoy meeting with people as well as lending a hand to the park staff. Thanks for the insites into workcamping. Keep up the great blogs.


  2. curt on January 25th, 2008 9:10 pm

    Are you the one in S. D. ? One of the RV.Net administrators? I’ve enjoyed your comments in that forum for a year or two.

  3. Dianne on January 25th, 2008 9:23 pm

    Curt…yes, that is I. Still a moderator on RV net and still a SD resident!

  4. Diane Martell on January 27th, 2008 2:39 pm

    We have a little differant spin on rving. I am a job coach in the school system and my husband has 6 weeks off a year. So we sold all of our furniture and bought a 38 foot motorhome. We live in the motorhome from April to Oct. Then we rent a cottoge on the lake from Oct. to April. It is fully furnished so all we have to do is move our personal items.

    I must say it is the best of all the worlds. In the winter we cross courtry ski, ice fish, and four wheel on the ice. In the summer we hit the road and travel all over America, follow nascar, and play plenty of golf. We are still employed and we are able to half time rv. As I say to many people we meet, “we are practicing retirement.” Life is good.

  5. ELLYN on February 16th, 2008 6:03 pm


  6. Lynn on February 18th, 2008 3:34 pm

    We are not ready to become a fulltimmers, but I would love to here more about Volunteering and Workcamping. My wife and I still work fulltime and go RVing when we can. I have spoken to a few folks here in Ky. about working at the State Parks, but I do not know where to begin inquiring about such opportunities. Can you help?

  7. kerry on March 28th, 2008 6:10 am

    I have been working as a traveler (PT) for almost two years now. my wife and I live in our motorhome and have yet to regret our decision.

    I was initially sceptical of starting at a new venue every 13 weeks. that has turned out to be unfounded. we have only been in the oregon and washington states so far.

    please feel free to respond with any questions.

  8. Jamie Donahoe on August 14th, 2009 10:17 pm

    I would be very interested in learning how to spread the word about volunteer opportunities involving historic preservation work at historic sites around the country. I am sure many RVers would be up for such an adventure – please send ideas for ways to get the word out.

    jmdonahoe @

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