How and Why We Found our Workamper Position in California

Marlie and I were tired of the excessive heat and humidity in Florida. On top of that for the two years we were there after moving back, a major hurricane came through each of them. Both years we had to take our camper and “run away” from the hurricane, and both times we were glad we did. Each of the campgrounds we were staying at, before we left, were demolished by wind and rain. Each of them were closed down for weeks afterwards, due to the removing of fallen trees, road washouts and building repairs. To top it off they were also without power for weeks! That wouldn’t have been so bad with a generator, but their water came from wells that depended on electricity to pump it. These facts helped make our decision easier. We decided that if we could just get free rent from workamping, we would go.

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We picked the state of California, because two of Marlie’s younger brothers were going to be married there in the very near future. We figured that since we had to go out there anyways,  we might as well make it a fun trip and explore California for a while.

We didn’t just pack up and go, though. Now that we had our destination picked, we had to do some major planning and find a campground/ State Park/ National Park/ National Forest, or anything that we could work at where they had full hookups in exchange for a handful of volunteered hours a week.

I heard about the Koa workamper website and paid $35.00 to be a part of that. I searched for jobs in the areas of California that we might want to live for a while and applied to several. My next step was perusing the California State Park website for available volunteer positions. I used an interactive map and looked for all the places that weren’t desert or remotely hot and applied for them. Immediately after applying for a job in the redwoods a ranger contacted me. He loved our resume, asked if we had any convictions (not yet I told him) ha, ha, and told us to come on out by November 1st of last year. It worked out perfectly for us. We left on October 19th and made a great trip of it. We visited all kinds of places including the Grand Canyon, Walt Disney’s boyhood home and his first studio, several film sites from the show Breaking Bad and even stopped to see some family along the way.

With a little bit of planning, patience and open mindedness of where we were going we were able to get a workamping gig easily. Being great camp hosts helped us to get our next gig. The rangers in California worked tirelessly to find us a state park in the San Francisco area for us to work and live at.

We did take the first position offered us and we don’t regret it at all. We made life long friends and met so many fellow travelers that enjoyed discussing where they’ve been and where they were going with us. We do not get paid money, per se, like at a commercial/ privately owned campground. Nor do we want to. (That entails quite a bit more responsibility.) We are grateful to not have to work for money and be able to get our site for free. It is a lot less stressful and a little harder for the supervisors to become angry at volunteers, when we mess somethingup, knowing that we can just pack up and go whenever we want.

BTW we did get offered multiple jobs while we were at our first gig, based on all of the applications we had sent out. It just took a little longer than we wanted for them to get back to us. We still feel like we got the best gig on the first offer. My advice to you if you are looking for a workamping job is to do your research. Don’t be too picky. Get your foot in the door and work your butt off. If you do all of that, hundreds,if not thousands of doors across the country will open up for you.

Good luck!

Mike

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