What Is With New Workampers Today?

Okay…before you say “okay boomer” let me explain what I mean by new workampers. Oh, and I’m no boomer. Rene and I have been workamping and working from the road for 15 years now. We’re not the only ones observing a trend among new workampers. I’ve managed the Workampers Facebook Group since starting it in September, 2012. And I’ve seen a lot of changes to both workamping in general, as well as the attitude and expectations of new workampers over the past ten years. Increasingly so over the past few years, as more people hit the road full-time. Employers are also taking note.

new workampers

The Integrity of New Workampers

A growing lack of integrity is just one of the changes in workamper behavior I’ve noticed more increasingly over the past few years. That’s one word for it, at least. And I didn’t say it first. The word that comes to mind for me is responsibility, or the growing lack thereof. This recent post to the group sums up what is being seeing by workamper employers at parks and resorts around the country – more and more, as more nomads discover workamping. And, it inspired me to finally speak my mind on the subject here.

new workampers

Things come up. Circumstances happen. And nobody knows why 90% of this park’s new workampers failed to follow through with their commitment. However, such a drastic increase in one year over the last says something about the batch of new workampers looking for work. At least those applying for, and apparently accepting this job. To simply not show up, or to show but then not hold up your end of the bargain represents, well…a serious lack of integrity. Maintaining honor is worth picking up the phone.

Some reading deeper into this particular scenario may blame the failure to appear on the employer not offering a “fair” bargain. Yes, this job may have been asking 28 hours per week – likely per couple (14 hrs. each) – in exchange for only a full hookup site. Seems fair to me considering the amenities, but ask ten workampers and you’ll get ten different opinions. Regardless, this point is moot for any workampers who accepted the job with understanding of the time commitment and compensation. New workampers need to understand that communication and integrity are key when accepting any workamping commitment.

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It’s About More Than Integrity

I’m seeing that “fair deal” conversation come up much more often. Practically every workamping job posted to the group offering site exchange only is met with an onslaught of “unfair deal” comments. Some participants even attack others who feel it is fair. Numerous employers have reached out to us privately regarding this concern. And many have chosen to no longer post job openings. Most new workampers fail to consider the perks when calculating a campsite value. More importantly, none seem to consider what it’s worth to you, personally. How bad we want to be in a certain location is a major factor in the jobs we consider.

Every workamper is different. And none have the right to chastise others for their choice. That’s happening much more frequently in the Workampers group. So much that I recently updated the group description, rules, and screening questions. The behavior that caused me to do this all points back to integrity, and the lack thereof.

What is workamping?

I attempted to find the group post that got me thinking about this so Live Work Dream readers could follow the discussion and offer their feedback. Within a couple hours it had already been deleted. The employer probably got fed up with negative comments from those…lacking integrity. I did find an open letter to workampers from another employer, posted in 2015. Considering how we’ve been involved with workamping for 15± years, I still consider this old post indicating a trend among new workampers.

Workamping began as a mutually beneficial agreement between employers and RVers wanting to stay somewhere free in exchange for providing some simple duties. Now, most new workampers demand pay for all hours and cry foul if the time commitment is too much. And apparently, many accepting those jobs are failing to keep up their end of the bargain – or even show up. And too many times, I’ve seen new workampers berate others who agree to take a job without pay. Many have compared it to indentured servitude. And anyone who calls it modern slavery gets themselves banned from the group. Workamping is not forced labor.

Will Work For Rent

Personally, Rene and I only sought out volunteer positions during our recent workamping job search. For starters, there are so many to choose from! And, jobs offering site exchange only tend to require the least time commitment. And that provides more time for us to focus on the various ways we make money on the road.

Within hours of updating our Workamper News resume, we received emails and calls from numerous employers wanting us to come work for them. Within two days, we were considering two great sounding job offers. After making the difficult decision to take the one job, we immediately called the other employer. We expressed our gratitude, and explained the situation – with honesty…and integrity.

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21 thoughts on “What Is With New Workampers Today?”

  1. I appreciate honest reviews regarding employers. I have been workamping for 4 years and been burned once by a so called manager. All the other positions have been fun and very enjoyable. I wish someone had told me of their experience with the one park and I would have avoided 5 horrible months of my life. It does not matter if you get it in writing if the parties do not honor the agreement. Working 7 days a week 24 hours a day is not fun. And yes….I fulfilled my committment…regardless. Now because I ask questions..it seems like people are offended. There seems to be a lack of respect for seasonal workers in this industry. Pondering the fact that brand new parks are going up at a fearce rate and there we be an even larger demand for seasonal employees, things will have to change. Volunteers are going to be harder to find. Parks are putting in more and more Tiny Homes and Cabins. This is a whole new ballgame as retirees are not as app to be able to climb LADDERS (not stairs) and make up beds in a confined space you can barely sit in. Cleaning firepits, checking in guess, office, managing the store, mowing and triming was fun. I want to live and work in an RV park …not a hotel. Hence, I am a Workamper not Workhoteler.

  2. Unfortunately this is a wide open discussion, I have always been fortunate in my workampers role as being fairly treated. Now this may mean getting called in on your day off, or being asked to do something that you were not hired for, all these things are called being flexible if possible. NOW YOU MR/MRS EMPLOYER… you like wise have an obligation to be fair if an employee needs something that wasn’t part of the daily need of the park.
    The absolute worst case is when someone travels hundreds of miles to be told at their arrival (WE NO LONGER NEED YOU) it doesn’t take long for either side to poison the water

  3. I too see the “integrity” or lack thereof. We had one, upon his exit interview, yell, curse and call his boss incompetent. He was asked to leave a week early. He has continued his “rant” on Facebook workamping site, went back on the campground facebook site and bash the park and managers. I was shocked at the hostility. We are here for our first year and find management 90% positive, not micro-managers (which I like and work best), so this, at least for me & my significant find this park/resort a very positive experience. We liked it so well, we agreed to return next winter. Now this park/resort has a bad review out on Facebook which in our opinion, not warranted. So integrity? Uh, no. I am of the opinion, if you are unhappy and don’t feel you can talk to your manager, finish your commitment and thank you for the opportunity and move on to the next gig. Don’t burn your bridge. Especially in public forums. Employers read these “reviews” and make determinations on hiring you. Not a good idea.

  4. I feel with what we experienced so far it could be the campground and not the workers sometimes.
    We have done 2 work camping jobs so far.
    The first was what we were told on the phone. It was a dream of a place to work and live. You probably can’t find a better owner, person, or individual to work for/with.
    The second was the worst. After asking numerous times we could not get anything in writing/contract that we were promised. We were not given the positions we were promised. We were asked if we need any time off during the year we were asked to work. We told them that we would need 2 weeks off and gave them the dates. When the time came we were told we couldn’t go. All because we couldn’t get it in writing. Management literally didn’t know how to run a business or treat employees. The red flag was that they wouldn’t put it in writing and the turnovers. It was in a very desirable area.

  5. Seems necessary to weigh in here. I do believe the employees should at least contact the employer when they decide to NOT take the position (not just days before or no contact at all). If I committed to details of work agreement, I would show up and put in the time. But employers, too, seem to lack integrity. Employees are no longer going to accept that kind of jerk-around, indentured servitude from businesses or corporations. Some people might show entitlement, but I agree with others saying that value is shown in a paycheck as well as mutual respect and benefits. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting to be paid for your time, skills or energy (regardless if you are someone in the position of NOT needing a paycheck-good for you). Communication matters-on both sides. I work for a company that pays far less than industry standard and expects people to be thankful for the seasonal adventure opportunity. However, retention of employees is about 10-20%, on-site working staff is stretched dangerously thin, training is minimal and inadequate, injuries and health problems from working on site have skyrocketed, equipment is constantly broken (with no budget to fix it), staff are treated like naughty children but must always “step up” and work harder/longer to cover all of the above. New rules are enacted constantly without communication or employee input. No one can bring up these issues because then you are not a “team player”. Budgets are cut year after year, but managers keep getting pay increases, hiring their friends into manager positions and taking company paid trips. And yet, the company and contractor wonder why everyone is quitting, they can’t hire qualified employees or maintain employee retention? Integrity works both ways and people are no longer satisfied with being indentured servants slaving for the corporation or small business. Communication is key.

  6. My husband and I were just discussing this today! We are disappointed at the behavior of so many we have worked with.

    It’s shocking to read the hostile comments on employers’ posts who are looking for workampers – not only attacking them for what they are offering but also attacking anyone who shows support for or interest in the employers’ offer.

    It’s also demoralizing how the lack of pride, or integrity, or work ethic has deteriorated the workamping experience. I feel bad for the campground/ RV park owners and managers who put up with this unethical behavior because they do not have enough applicants, or are afraid those they do have won’t show

    Thank you for posting this. It helps knowing it’s not just us being affected by this change.

  7. This is a trend I’ve seen in employees in general over the past 10-15 years, and now it’s spilled over into the workamping force apparently. About the time that smartphones became a thing, I’ve had to deal with coworkers who are playing on their phones instead of working. Or making personal phone calls outside of break times. And don’t even get me started on the lack of common courtesy that people show both their coworkers and patrons. You’d think they were paid to be rude.

    With the record numbers of people who resigned from their jobs recently, it seems only reasonable that those who were behaving without integrity in the stationary workplace are now doing the same in workamping positions as they try out the mobile life.

    • Hello, Bob and I have to agree on every point you make in this article.
      We also think age isnt a factor because we are in our late 60’s and have been work camping for site only for 4 years. However 1/2 of the work camp force, in our same age bracket, do not hold up their end of the job, creating more work for those who do.
      This was an excellent article and I hope whomever reads it takes it to heart.

    • Agree, phones can by put down during work time. Only exception is if you have an ill family member. Then only on break or emergency should that phone be out.

  8. So glad you wrote this Blog post!

    As “seasoned” workampers I am shocked at the number of people who do not do their research/homework before diving into the fulltime and/or workamping lifestyle. They’d rather ask questions on social media!

    This summer will be our first workamping experience working for site only! We are excited to try something different. We will only be working 15 hours each per week so we will have plenty of time to visit with family and also explore an area new to us!

    After spending the last six summers workamping 40+ hours a week for pay we were ready to try a different adventure.

    I personally have experienced folks not showing up or backing out last minute of commitments to workamping even after signing an agreement. Many are not honest about their reasons for backing out! They found something they want to do instead…..not good in my book. I suspect many will cancel this season now due to the increase in fuel prices.

    We are leaving in a week for a 3000 mile cross the USA trip to get to our summer gig and I’ve budgeted for the increase in fuel, we will boondock along the way to help the pain at the pump.

    On another note as I close, I have also seen a shift in employers, not valuing what they have in workampers but that is another blog for sure!

    Thanks again. great entry!


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