My husband and I began workamping in June of 2016. We were preparing to travel the country full-time in our RV. I’d recently quit my full-time job so we had some extra free time on our hands and needed an affordable way to live in northern New Hampshire while we both spent a summer playing music at Jean’s Playhouse – I was also the musical director. (Ross was also continuing his teaching studio, and I worked as the accompanist at a local church.) So I sent out emails to the local campgrounds. The first one to call me was Tarry Ho Campground in Twin Mountain – as it turned out, I had met the owner, Michelle, and had a great conversation with her a few years prior and she remembered me fondly, and she also knew my father, so she was eager to have us trade a campsite for some work during the season. I did a mixture of marketing and social media work, as well as special projects and occasional duties in the office or restrooms as needed, and my husband mainly worked at 302 Grill, the food trailer across the street, which gave him official food service experience to compliment his love of cooking.
Workamping can be a blast. You choose the type of work you want to do and where you want to do it, and many positions that we’ve done have had very flexible hours too, so we can work around other commitments. Both my husband and I teach music lessons via Skype, so it’s important that we have some free time to do that, and so far it hasn’t been a problem at all. It’s also really helpful to have a free campsite, and it gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of community to workamp.
The challenges of course are that the pay usually isn’t great and that just like being self-employed artists, finding temporary workamping jobs can be really challenging. Workamper.com is a great resource though, and we recently took a short-term position in Midland, TX when we got an email from a campground who’d seen our profile and wondered if we wanted to work while we passed through the area! It’s been a great match and Ross even gave a solo concert at the campground!
Another challenge for us is that we’re unconventional workampers. Most of our experience is as musicians, educators and theater artists. So the positions we are perhaps best suited for require creativity and thinking outside the box, and those aren’t the typical workamping positions we see. We’re hoping that by taking advantage of advertising opportunities and getting better at networking and marketing ourselves, campgrounds will start to see this uniqueness as an asset, as the ones we’ve worked with so far have.
I think our age is a positive for us. I do think there are some campgrounds that won’t consider us because we wouldn’t fit in with their typical clientele, but much of the work I have done for campgrounds is online – website maintenance, social media updates, writing and editing content and more – and the fact that we are young (we’re in our early 30’s) seems to be viewed as a strength when it comes to our aptitude for technology. We’re still figuring things out as we go, but we hope to continue to find a mixture of short-term performing/teaching gigs and longer-term stays as workampers in the future. We have no plans to stop either. We plan to re-evaluate at the year-mark, but we’d be quite happy to be on the road for at least another 3-5 years at this point if we can make it work financially.