This week’s blog is from our July/August 2016 issue. This issue showcases Workamping in South Dakota. It’s such a beautiful area! If you have a Diamond or Platinum membership, you can view this issue and the other stories about Workamping in South Dakota online under Online Magazines from the Dashboard. Not a member yet? Join here today!
by Sue Young
Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in Custer, South Dakota, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that hires Workampers for their peak tourist season. I was an employee in 2015 for Visitor Services, while my husband, Les, worked in Grounds/Maintenance.
Crazy Horse is very customer-service oriented, with a goal to always “make a friend”. So greeting guests cordially while collecting entry tickets, ensuring timely viewing of the introductory film, acting as a “step on” tour guide for commercial buses, answering inquiries about artifacts within the museum as well as providing information on other area attractions/amenities requires good communication skills, the patience of Mother Theresa, and a keen sense of humor! This is particularly true during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the first week of August.
My husband’s duties included parking the more than 8,000 motorcycles that entered the grounds each day during the rally. His other tasks included cutting lawns, weeding, trimming bushes, lawn equipment maintenance, traffic control for the Laser Light Show and other special events, and snow removal during a Mother’s Day blizzard in May 2015! Needless to say, he had a very “physical” position.
We were compensated for all hours worked, which were generally 40 hours/week, and we paid a nominal charge (less than $7/night) for our full hookup site at their Heritage Village Campground that was within 2 miles of the memorial. We also received a 25 cent bonus based on our work performance and fulfilling our contract term.
And they offered a VIP Pass giving reduced rates at other area attractions. We took FULL advantage of this wonderful benefit!
Located in the magnificent Black Hills, the area offers panoramic views, prolific wildlife viewings, and awesome motorcycling and hiking with its great proximity to Mount Rushmore, Custer STate Park, the Badlands, Jewel National Park, Spearfish Canyon, and Deadwood – all within 60 minutes of Crazy Horse!
We all know every rose has its thorns, so of course, there were a few minor challenges we learned to overcome. This are of South Dakota is not for wrm or calm weather enthusuats! The weather was quite unpredictable. A bright, sunshiny day could turn ominous VERY quickly. In addition the Mother’s Day blizzard, we had more snow in late May. Severe thunderstorms, excessive winds, and the constant threat of hail storms were “the norm” for our stay through September 15, 2015.
You need to go to Rapid City about an hour away, if you prefer the convenience of shopping malls, chain restaurants, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other big box stores. We wanted to spend our two days off each week exploring the area via our motorcycles, not doing errands. Therefore, we would make the trek only once a month to purchase meat to satisfy our carnivore palettes. We purchased our produce and dairy at Krull’s Market in Hill City, about 8 miles away, and relied heavily on walmart.com and amazon.com to fulfill our most essential needs, with delivery right to the campground problem-free!
We experienced sporadic cell phone and Mi-Fi internet service through Verizon. And, unfortunately, no public Wi-Fi is available at Crazy Horse or Heritage Village Campground. So, generally we visit Main Street in Custer to make phone calls/use the internet. If your services are provided through AT&T, you will not encounter any issues- there is an AT&T tower nearby!
The assets clearly outweighed the liabilities in our ledger book! We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation and relished in the unadulterated beauty, rich history, and diverse culture of the Black HIlls region of South Dakota.