We had Sunday off, but the rest of the week we worked, and the rainy, cold weather didn’t make it very fun. Business is slowing down as I mentioned last week, so I had lots of down time. Initially we talked about getting DISH turned on for the Olympics, but that didn’t work out, and it has been a bummer not being able to watch events live. I have been watching some clips on You Tube and NBC.com, but it’s not the same as just turning on the TV and watching whatever random sport is on. Plus Lee, who is an avid women’s beach volleyball fan, hasn’t got to see any of that at all 🙂 It has given me more time to work on my recipe book, though, and at least in that area I really feel like I have made some progress.
I’ve decided on categories that relate to living in an RV, and have written the basic introduction for all of them. I’ve also realized that despite lots of experimentation over the last two years I am still a little light on recipes in certain categories. The categories I decided on are: Happy Hour Appetizers, Pot Lucks, Travel Days, Dinners for Two (with leftovers), Regional Specialties, Slow Cooking, Sides & Salads, and Desserts. As much as possible I am trying to use recipes that are delicious, have common in ingredients, and are relatively easy to make in an RV. Which has turned out to be harder than I initially thought it would be.
So, I am currently working on rounding out the Happy Hour Appetizer section and if nothing else Lee has enjoyed being my taste tester! Several of the recipes were pretty good, but just not simple enough (ingredients and prep time) to make it into the book. I am sharing the French Onion Mushroom recipe below though because it was very unique and tasted yummy, it just didn’t make the cut because it wasn’t that easy to make. If you would like to share some recipes to try in any of the categories I would love to have them, and I am sure Lee would love to eat them!! Just email me at camperchronicles @ gmail.com, and if they make the book I promise to credit you and send you a free electronic copy of the book when it’s done.
Anyway, back to the work kamping. This week the sun did finally come out, but it was windy for most of the week. We had three desert nights and for the first time I made homemade brownies, or should I say homemade chocolate goo? It tasted good but was NOT pretty. Definitely not making the recipe book, lol. My favorite guest experience of the week was two families from China. They had three small kids between them, ages 6, 4, and 3, and the 6 year old girl was absolutely adorable. Her English was outstanding (she goes to English class every day) and she was incredibly polite. They are the second chinese group that has come through here this summer, and it was a pleasure meeting them. The most prevalent nationality has been Swiss. This week I found out that the exchange rate is very strong for the Swiss, which is probably why so many are coming here this summer. It is helping to offset the loss of Canadian business which is still down due to their exchange rate. I continue to love talking to people from other countries and get at least one couple a day, although some nights our dessert bonfire is like a mini united nations, which is a lot of fun.
One interesting thing that happened was a couple was looking for a dog walker and I volunteered to do it. The going rate is $10 a dog for two walks in a day and now I think I should have been doing this all along. We have two major day trips from here and both are very long days, so I could have been supplementing our income this entire time. Plus, I love puppies and could have gotten my dog fix by doing some walking. So of course it was a little goofy. I walked the dogs at 10:30 and 4:00 but the owners weren’t back by 9 as expected. At 10 they were still not back, and I was starting to get worried. I knew the day trip to the mine was long and had tons of stretches with no cell service so at 10:45 we walked back over and let the dogs out again. This time though the little cocker slipped the leash and ran us around in circles in a dark campground for about a half hour. She stayed close, but she is skittish and just would come back in the RV, but never close enough to catch. Thankfully the owners came home and of course she ran right up to them. They were so grateful that we let them out a third time they gave me $50. It turns out they did indeed have a flat tire on a lonely stretch of road and had no cell service to call, so I am glad I kept an eye on the puppies.
Dog walking aside, we seem to have finally fallen into a rhythm here. As we are winding down though I can’t help but look back on the experience and feel we could have done better in many areas. Part of the difficulty as I have stated before is that this is my first new job in over 15 years and another part is transitioning from a knowledge worker to an hourly employee. But once you take all of that out of the equation there are definitely some issues that could have been resolved by us asking better questions up front. I do chalk that up to not knowing what to ask, but now with some time under my belt I thought I would pass on some lessons learned to those who haven’t work kamped in a campground. Some of these we got right, and others we did not, but I think they are all pretty important for both the employee and employer to have a good experience. I am also, for the record, including some experiences that have been shared with me by others because I think it is good if we all learn from each other.
Work Kamping Interview Discussion Lessons Learned
- In the interview process make sure you talk to your direct supervisor. Work Kampers often report to other more senior work kampers or someone other than the campground owner and they may have different expectations than the owner does. It is important you talk to both parties to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- If you need to work extra hours for pay to make your budget, make sure you have a weekly hourly commitment in writing. Business could be unexpectedly slow because of factors like weather, gas prices, wildfires, etc, so keep that in mind if the money is absolutely needed. We actually talked about this upfront so has worked really well for us, but we interviewed for another position we just couldn’t make work because they wouldn’t guarantee hours.
- Be very specific about your job responsibilities including what hours you will work, the types of work, what will you do during the “slow times” etc. If there is something you are absolutely not willing to do, ask specifically about that activity. Don’t just assume.
- How flexible is the schedule? Can you take extra days off? Can days off be traded? If the flexibility depends on a second couple, keep this in mind as some people do not like trading their schedules.
- Talk about work standards that particularly matter to you. For example, customer service, accounting practices, and cleanliness standards. Try to get a feeling if you will be allowed to use your own judgement or be micromanaged. You may prefer one style of management to the other and either way these are good things to know going in.
- Be very specific about your living conditions. Where will the site be? How close are your neighbors? Is it a separate “employees only” population or among the guests? Power, water, laundry?
How do you have this detailed conversation without coming off as being too particular and a pain in the ass? I really have no idea. But those conversations are going to happen sooner or later, so I do believe it’s better to have them up front so everyone is on the same page and both you and the employer are making decisions with the fullness of facts. Again, many of these items we covered and some were a non-issue, but I have spent the summer collecting campground work kamping stories from friends, and these are the types of things that can cause conflict if they are not addressed up front.
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We used a dog walking service at a KOA when we rode the train into NYC when we were there. It’s really a great service to provide. Very cool!
I’ve always thought that the biggest challenge with this life style is lack of internet and cell signal. But having a dog with you is right up there. Unless we find a dog walker (which is not always easy) we are limited to 4-5 hours and then need to be back for Max. When you visit a destination and it’s and hour from your camp, then you only have 3 hours to tour. $10 a dog for two walks in a day is a great price. We paid a dog walker $40 to walk Max while Eileen and I were at my family reunion. She only asked for $20, but she spent 3 hours with Max. The extra $20 was an incentive for her to be available next year, and she spent 3 hours with Max. 🙂
Some of the Lessons Learned could help people applying for a full time job.
Every time I seriously start thinking about getting a dog…I think about you guys and it slows me down. Then the moment passes. I really miss having a dog, just not sure it would work well with how we are currently living the life.