The story of our first camp hosting experience
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The story of our first camp hosting experience

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As we come to the close of the camping season in the Colorado mountains, we take some time to reflect on our past 3 months at our first camp hosting experience. It’s been an interesting summer over at the Ryan RV.

Let’s begin with the story about how camp hosting came to be. If you know our story at all, you know we’ve been full-timers for 3 years. Yet this is our first-time camp hosting. We happened to be staying in the area because Paul’s parents live near Lake Dillon when Heather saw a post in the Xscapers Facebook group advertising the open position; she reached out to the manager. You know the rest of that story.

A two-week visit turned into 3 months. Oops.

There were several factors that led us to take this job. Number one was our dog was ill and we wanted continued care at a vet to help him out. Number two was spending more time with Paul’s parents after not seeing them for 14 months. Number 3 was staying put in a familiar area, getting a free site in a beautiful spot and simply slowing down our travels a bit. Lastly, we thought what the heck. It would be another experience to add to our life together. Oh, we’d also make a little extra cash. That never hurts anyone, right?

Our first day

We moved in on a Wednesday afternoon and were told we would start on Friday. No problem, right?!?

We were wrong. The beginning of our camp hosting adventure was not easy at all. After settling into our spot, we went over to meet the other camp hosts thinking this was the friendly thing to do. It was a little awkward meeting the wife, but we brush it off. Not long after we arrived at her trailer, our boss calls us to come and get our uniforms.

The ordinary turns crazy

We head on up to the manager’s office and get outfitted for the job. They give us everything including pants, shirts (both long and short), a hat, name tags, a warm jacket and a pair of shorts. During our time getting our uniforms, he also informs us that the camp host’s husband had been missing since 8 am. It was an older couple and we only met the wife.

Anyway, because her husband had gone missing we are asked to step in and start a day early, as-in Thursday, (which is supposed to be our day off). No problem we say. In the meantime, the company moves the wife to a quieter out of the way campground near another manager. She is relieved of duty and we take over the whole 107 sites in the campground on our own. Eeek!

Lake Dillon view
the views from the campground are spectacular!

Later, we learn that the forest service found the husband. He had committed suicide. What??!?! Yes. This truly did happen on our first day! We would not joke about such a serious matter.

This sent shivers up our spines and we were quite disturbed. We try to push it out of our minds and focus on the task at hand knowing we have a whole campground to manage.

It’s then that we realize we have no idea what we’re doing. Ok. We know how to clean the bathrooms. We also realize we have to check people in and such but we still need to learn the campground layout. We don’t know any of the paperwork or procedures. We have to collect money and deal with recording it all. We’ve had zero training thus far. It’s fair to say it was a mess.

Riding our special vehicle

The first weekend

When we signed up for the gig, we agreed to 20 hours each since we both work other jobs. Well, that first week we each put in 40 hours. It was stressful and exhausting. When our day off came around, we seriously needed it.

That first weekend was particularly nutty. We dealt with people breaking down barriers to camp on the lake. Totally illegal, as you might suspect, and yes, they did get a citation from the forest service. We had people camping wherever they wanted – in the overflow parking area, on the road. It was like all the crazies came out just to test us during our very first few days of camp hosting. The sheriff’s office was called several times and all.

Suji enjoying a sunset walk in the campground

We knew if it stayed like that, we wouldn’t be able to manage. Unfortunately, there was no way we could deal with the stress and hours and also keep up with our other jobs. We thought this job would be fun meeting campers and travelers and helping them out.

The calm after the storm

Well, it turned out to be not so bad in the end. They hired other camp hosts to take over half the campground and things seemed to settle down. Thankfully, it was weeks before we call the sheriff’s office again. Phew!

We got the hang of it and established a routine. We dealt with some difficult people and enjoyed the fun and friendly campers. We enjoyed sunsets and walks in the campground with the dogs. We kayaked on the lake during our off-hours.

We cleaned bathrooms and kept the fire pits clear of debris. We adjusted to the paperwork and enjoyed our rides on the golf cart down to the group camping area to check campers in and tidy up the bathrooms. After all, the scenery is breathtaking! We put out fires when some campers decided to leave their fires going even thought they packed up and left. Campers thanked us for the clean bathrooms. You’re welcome!

Yes. We have stories about the bathrooms. If you work a job cleaning after the public, I can pretty much guarantee you have stories. We’ll spare you those details.

Overall, the experience wasn’t terrible and we might consider returning or going somewhere new to camp host.

However, our plans next summer are to travel to Alaska!

How was your summer? Was it as crazy as ours?