Sunday, November 17, 2013

Real Figures from Someone who has Done It

It took Missy and I about two years to find our way to the oil patch. We workamped at three or four campgrounds before Andy ( convinced me that the compensation was indeed real. If you think we were jaded, you'd be right. Our pay at campgrounds varied from $800 to $1300 per month; not enough to pay the bills, and barely enough to survive on. We still follow the workamping community and the pay has not gotten any better. If anything, it is worse than ever, with more and more campgrounds offering a site in exchange for the work. At some campgrounds the menial work we were assigned to do seemed never ending. We even worked at a campground where the two of us were responsible for maintaining almost three hundred acres. About seventy five to one hundred acres required weedeating and mowing. Did I tell you there were also about a dozen horses that we cared for; which included breaking, tack maintenance, feeding and grooming? Plus we conducted trail rides through the woods and brush that we created and maintained. I forgot to mention that they also had a float operation with canoe, tubes and rafts. Of course there was the store, the reservations, guest relations and the campground to maintain. Then there were the arguments with the owners because we couldn't seem to get everything done without exceeding forty hours. Most campgrounds don't want you to exceed forty hours in a week to prevent you from being considered a fulltime employee. Our only good experience was a well run campground in Branson, Missouri. Being able to attend the shows for free or a heavily discounted rate was a great perk. Still, the pay was awful at under two hundred dollars a week before taxes for each of us. The irony of it all is that the only folks that can really afford to do the work are retirees and folks on disability (or collecting supplemental income from somewhere.) My point is, there are a lot of us who are unemployed and have hit the road in an RV looking for some of that good old American promise with little or no supplemental income. It is a ready and willing work force that some take advantage of. Workampers are not the only ones caught up in this financial trap. There are hundreds of thousands in the work force who are forced to subsist off of government programs and/or charity due to poor pay. Sadly and shamefully, that includes a lot of our military and government workers.  So what is someone to do who wants to pursue his or her dream of seeing this country and living the RV lifestyle? Hopefully some of you dreamers are reading this because you need to start now. Start saving and purchase the largest RV you can afford (no matter what you buy you will find it lacking in room). You don't want those payments saddling you on the road. The used market is the way to go, in my opinion. Spend the time to thoroughly research and shop around. RV'ers are generally a friendly bunch and you can obtain a wealth of knowledge talking to them. Renting a coach for the weekend is also a good way to learn about the RV lifestyle. Although I am generally against workamping, there are exceptions to the norm. Amazon has a loyal following at their distribution facilities with good pay and discounted parks to stay in. There are temporary and long term employment opportunities in construction and energy exploration that you can do while living out of an RV. Some of them, like gate guarding, provide your utilities while working. Whatever your choice is, it will be difficult to make a living workamping without some sort of additional income.

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