Workamping with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

For over 20 years, Workamper News has been the trusted resource of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects to advertise for and recruit Workampers for their volunteer and paid gate attendant positions.

You will find opportunities from USACE projects in our daily Hotline (email & website page) and in our bi-monthly jobs magazine throughout the year.

But, each summer, we communicate with projects around the U.S. to find out what their staffing needs will be for the next two seasons. The culmination of this annual survey can be found in the Sept/Oct issue of Workamper® News jobs magazine (although this year – due to COVID-19 – it appears in our Nov/Dec issue).

With one section for volunteer positions and another for paid contract gate attendant positions, Workampers can view options in multiple states. Each ad includes the contact information for that project.

Also included in the magazine issue is a feature article giving insight into the experiences that Workampers have at a project, as well as the importance of the roles Workampers play. USACE projects need volunteers and gate attendants to remain in operation and maintain the beautiful, natural areas we all love to enjoy.

What can I do as a Corps Volunteer?

Workamper Volunteer Park Hosts Jess & Peggy Varner at USACE Allatoona Lake in Georgia. Photo by Ranger Rusty Simmons.

The Corps of Engineers offers many volunteer opportunities in recreation and natural resources management on nearly 12 million acres of land and water. Park Hosts and Campground Hosts are popular positions for Workampers. The duties vary, but may include greeting the public, providing information, answering questions, registering campers, helping with special events, inspecting facilities, providing surveillance, opening and closing the gate and maintaining quiet hours. Some locations may include fee collection, using a computer or maintenance work.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering is a great way for beginning Workampers to “test the water,” and for experienced Workampers to have more flexibility than paid positions require. The hours and length of stay are usually for shorter periods. Volunteers serve without pay, but are often provided with a free RV campsite with hookups. Training, supervision, tools and supplies are provided. Volunteers receive the same benefits and protection as federal employees under the Federal Employees Compensation Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act.

What do volunteers say after trying it?

They enjoy gaining skills, working outdoors at beautiful lakes, meeting new people, making a difference and having fun! The experience, training and confidence acquired while working as a volunteer can be invaluable. Good Workamping references can make the difference when applying for other Workamper® jobs.

What should I consider before volunteering?

When considering volunteer positions, remember that a provided RV campsite with utilities is estimated to be worth from $200 to $400 per month or more, depending on the amenities and location. Benefits vary from location to location. Prospective volunteers should fully investigate the duties, requirements and benefits of a specific position before submitting an application.

Becoming a Contract Gate Attendant

Workamper Donna Lindsey greets visitors as they enter the Orange Blossom Rec Area of the Stanislaus Project in California. Photo by USACE Stanislaus Project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers utilizes independent contractors to perform much of the day-to-day operation and maintenance of more than 4,000 parks. These parks are managed by more than 400 field offices (also known as projects.)

What is Involved in a Park Attendant Contract?

While there are exceptions, most Corps Park Attendant contracts require a couple (two adults with no children under age 16), to live in the recreation area and perform the duties to operate a campground or day-use recreation area. Work shifts vary and may include evening and/or night-time hours, split shifts and will almost always include weekends and holidays. Most contracts are from 4-7 months, beginning in April or May, and ending in September or October.

An RV site with hookups is provided adjacent to the entrance station or gatehouse. Duties vary, but may include greeting visitors, registering campers, collecting fees, answering questions, providing surveillance, opening and closing the gate and minor housekeeping of the entrance station. Park Attendants may use the special computer software and
coordinate the implementation of the NRRS (a nationwide reservation system). Some contracts may also require some grounds maintenance.

Since the size and popularity of Corps parks varies greatly, the pace of the work can also vary. The duties and pace of the work should be thoroughly understood prior to preparing a bid on a particular contract. If at all possible, visit the parks you are interested in during the busy season.

How Do I Place a Contract Bid?

Contracts are awarded to the lowest “qualified” bidder. Bidding procedures, deadlines and qualifications vary from district to district and project to project. If possible, we recommend visiting with the park manager at the project(s) where you would like to work. You should ask about qualifications, duties, work schedules, etc.

If you decide you want to bid, ask for a copy of the contract specifications (sometimes called “scope of work”) and ask to be placed on the mailing list to receive an “invitation for bids” or “bid package.” In some cases, the park manager will refer you to the Contracts Branch or Purchasing Section in their District Office. Bids are taken on a “per day,” “per month” or “per season” basis. Complete bidding instructions are included in each bid package.

At some lakes, park attendants are included in a large contract awarded to a company, and the park manager will refer you to that company.

How Much Should I Bid?

When deciding how much to bid, it is recommended that you simply establish an hourly wage that you can be happy with and then multiply that wage by the number of hours in the contract.

Please consider that some of the people you may be bidding against may be dependent on this income. If you don’t need extra income, but want to be of service please consider a volunteer position. Most volunteer positions offer an RV site with hookups, plus shorter work periods.

Learn More About Workamping and Connect with Corps Jobs for RVers is home to not just job listings for RVers, but the education, support, and toolkit to easily find the right opportunities to create the best Workamping experience for you!

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