Growing numbers of RVers are working while they travel across America. According to a press release, many of them are “workampers,” people who work part time handling maintenance, clerical or marketing functions for weeks or months at a time at campgrounds that are located in places they’ve always wanted to visit.
The lifestyle will be highlighted Nov. 2–3 during Workamper Discovery Days at Shadow Hills RV Resort in Indio, Calif. Workamper News Inc., a newspaper that provides classified listings of workamper jobs across North America, is conducting a series of seminars and workshops that will cover everything from RV maintenance to the ins and outs of workamping.
“This is the first time Workamper News has offered seminars like this in the Western U.S.,” said Shadow Hills RV Resort co-owner Paula Turner, who uses workampers during the winter snowbird season.
“We think this conference will be a great opportunity for people to learn about workamping and how they can afford to live the dream of RVing on a part-time or full time basis,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).
CalARVC is the trade association that represents privately owned and operated parks across California, the very businesses that likely to use workampers to supplement their existing staffs during their peak seasons.
For more information on Workamper Discovery Days event, click here.
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It’s 5:30 p.m. outside a huge Amazon fulfillment center in Fernley, Nev., population 19,000. Workers pour out of the doors as a new wave of employees arrive. They’re putting in close to 12-hour shifts round the clock during the final Christmas rush.
As reported by NBC News, some employees leave and go home to RVs, a few of them parked, ironically, in a Walmart parking lot across the street.
These are “workampers,” temporary seasonal workers who roam the country in Winnebagos and Fleetwoods. They’re filling the 31 RV parks around Fernley, east of Reno, to work for another few weeks at a center Amazon has had here since 1999.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of really cool people, and I’m really going to miss them,” says 50-year-old Sharon Scofield. “But then I’m excited that I get to come back again next year, hopefully, and see them again.”
Scofield and her husband have set up temporary residence at the Fernley RV Park, where 60% of the 49 spots are occupied by members of Amazon’s “camperforce”. Temporary employees are paid about $12 an hour, plus overtime, and Scofield plans to use her income to pay for gas for her Winnebago all year. “The work is hard,” she says. What does she do for fun after hours? “Sleep.”
Amazon says it’s hired 50,000 seasonal workers and may keep some of them after the holidays. Workampers say the company recruits during the off season in places like Quartzsite, Ariz., where many of them winter.
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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an article posted by MSNBC.com examining the growing breed of mobile workers working from RVs. To read the entire article and view related photos click here.
For many Americans, summer is the time to hit the road in an RV, taking time off work to see the country from the relative comfort of a home on wheels.
But for some free-spirited adventurers, summer never has to end as the RV becomes a mobile office, taking advantage of the growing ubiquity of wireless Internet access.
Jim Nelson and René Agredano are examples of this new breed of telecommuters who are at home on the road.
It’s a far different lifestyle than cubicle culture of the traditional office setting, Nelson said in an interview from their favorite guest ranch in Lake City, Colo.
When asked why they choose to work out of a recreational vehicle or camper, many professionals cite the freedom that comes with a mobile lifestyle.
Nelson made the choice years ago after suffering through a two-hour daily commute in the San Francisco Bay area, when he was a marketing manager for a hardware company.
“It just beats your soul,” Nelson said. “Now I can commute by choice. I can move somewhere if I want to if it’s prettier. It’s not the grindstone.”
In 2007, Nelson and Agredano sold their graphics business, their Eureka, Calif., home and most of their belongings and hit the road full-time in a 24-foot, fifth-wheel trailer. Equipped with gadgets including a satellite dish for Internet access, solar panels and a pair of laptops, they have a virtual office that travels with them. Nelson, 45, works remotely as a graphic designer, while his wife of 15 years, 43-year-old Agredano, works as a freelance writer and jewelry maker.
To read the entire article and view related photos click here.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is offering two free one-day sessions of its popular KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp training for subscribed KOA Work Kampers. The first training is scheduled for March 28 at the Branson, Mo., KOA Campground. The second session will be April 21 at the Santa Cruz/Monterey, Calif., KOA Campground.
“Our KOA Work Kamper Program provides our KOA owners with a well-trained, experienced work force, so keeping our Work Kampers up to date is a top priority,” said Mike Booth, assistant vice president of Franchisee Services for KOA.
“We train KOA Work Kampers to be fully versed in top-level customer service practices and we make them familiar with our quality and facility standards,” added Booth. “Once they become familiar with KOA’s service culture, it’s very easy for Work Kampers to move from one KOA to the next.”
A portion of the training sessions will include a “Virtual Job Fair,” where KOA Work Kampers will be able to meet via the Internet and in person with KOA owners throughout North America.
The KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp sessions are free for subscribed KOA Work Kampers, and will include a free breakfast and lunch. To register for the training or to learn more about the KOA Work Kamper program, go to www.workatkoa.com.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is offering a free one-day session of its KOA Work Kamper Boot Camp training March 28 at the Branson, Mo., campground.
“Our KOA Work Kamper Program provides our KOA owners with a well-trained, experienced work force, so keeping our Work Kampers up to date is a top priority,” said Mike Booth, assistant vice president of franchisee services for Billings, Mont-based KOA.
The KOA Work Kamper Program currently has approximately 1,500 active two-person Work Kamper teams who are matched with KOA owners offering jobs on their parks. KOA Work Kampers who complete a full camping season are eligible to become KOA All Star Work Kampers with increased benefits, including travel vouchers for KOA stays when traveling to a campground for work.
“We train KOA Work Kampers to be fully versed in top-level customer service practices and we make them familiar with our proprietary KOA KampSight campground operating system,” said Booth. “Once they know how to operate KampSight and become familiar with KOA’s service culture, it’s very easy for Work Kampers to move from one KOA to the next.”
A portion of the March 28 Branson training session will include a “Virtual Job Fair,” where KOA Work Kampers will be able to meet via the internet with KOA owners throughout North America.
The KOA Work Kamper Boot Camp session at the Branson KOA is free for subscribed KOA Work Kampers, and will include a free breakfast and lunch. To register for the March 28 training or to learn more about the KOA Work Kamper program, go to www.workatkoa.com or contact Leah Estep, KOA’s franchisee services programs coordinator, at email@example.com, 800-562-0899.
Behind the piles of smiley-faced Amazon.com Inc. boxes arriving on doorsteps this holiday season are workers like Ray and Sarann Williams.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the retired couple are part of the swarm of seasonal employees taking up temporary residence in Fernley, Nev. —home to one of Amazon’s warehouses—to help the online-retail giant fulfill its influx of holiday orders.
The Williamses migrated from their home in Hurricane, Utah, to take the two-month warehouse gig. “The money always helps” and the physical labor “always makes me feel better,” Mr. Williams said as he walked his miniature schnauzer, Maya, around the Desert Rose RV park, where the couple is currently residing. The 75-year-old said this was his second stint as a seasonal Amazon worker, after spending last autumn at Amazon’s Campbellsville, Ky., location.
Amazon, the world’s biggest e-commerce purveyor, sees a sales spike every fourth quarter, when it makes nearly 40% of its more than $34 billion in annual revenue. To meet that surge, the Seattle-based company hires hundreds of temporary workers at each of its 34 U.S. warehouses.
A spokeswoman for Amazon, which has 51,000 staffers excluding seasonal workers world-wide, said it hires “thousands” of temporary workers for the holidays, but declined to disclose specific numbers. It said it quadrupled its staff at its warehouse in Phoenix to 1,200 to handle the end-of-year rush.
Many of these employees belong to the community of “workampers,” a sort of modern-day migrant worker. Many of them are retirees who spend all or part of the year living in RVs and taking odd seasonal jobs around the country. While some workers really need the money, others said they take the gigs to help fund their adventures or just for fun.
Many current and former seasonal workers said Amazon pays decent wages—about $12 an hour plus overtime in Fernley, which is about 50% better than minimum wage here. But that is in exchange for long hours and tedious labor.
“It’s like the best place to work and the worst place to work,” said Kelly Andrus, a 50-year-old Fernley resident who served as an Amazon holiday employee seven years ago. “It’s good pay, and they’re safety oriented,” but she said the managers were strict and the labor was physically demanding.
According to the Wall Street Journal, workers can be on their feet for hours fetching items from shelves, packing boxes and preparing incoming items for storage. Many said they lose five pounds or more in a few weeks. Earlier this year, Amazon was on the defensive after an Allentown, Pa., newspaper reported that more than a dozen workers collapsed inside the local warehouse there because of the summer heat. The company said employee safety was its top concern and that it had urgently installed air conditioning.
Holiday hiring surges are common in online retailing. At online electronics retailer Newegg Inc., a spokeswoman said the company boosts warehouse and customer-service headcount by about 130, or roughly 20%, during the holidays.
Amazon finds its workers via recruiting events, such as the one it held at an RV show in Quartzsite, Ariz., earlier this year. Many also come by word of mouth.
To view the entire Wall Street Journal story click here.
Campground operators and others who employ Workampers are invited to a groundbreaking, two-day meeting, the Workamper Employer Summit, Oct. 3-4 in Heber Springs. Ark, according to a news release.
Steve Anderson, publisher of Workamper News, is organizing the event.
“During this event we will be brainstorming and collectively evaluating the possibilities of the development of a Workamper reference system,” he stated. “This summit will provide you the opportunity to provide your input.”
During the summit, attendees also will be discussing effective recruiting: what works and what doesn’t work.
“We will discuss various interviewing methodologies that will make a difference to your Workamper program” he said. “We will be covering many topics that will assist all Workamping employers in improving their future experiences.”
There is no fee to attend. The only requirement is that attendees be an EmployerPlus subscriber.
To register contact Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his office at (501) 362-2637.
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of ABC News, on the following story.
In the search for paying jobs, more Americans are heading for the open road. An unconventional group of workers is always on the move, circling the country in RVs to follow seasonal employment.
They don’t like being called migrants, but for these self-styled “workampers,” their RV isn’t just their only home — it’s some 400 square feet of mobile opportunity.
Jobs typically last between three and five months in sites ranging from state parks to Florida’s Walt Disney World. Today, a good number of those available jobs are in Campbellsville, Ky., where a large processing plant for Amazon.com is still hiring workers for the busy holiday season.
More than 500 families have settled in a campground set up by Amazon, taking jobs in the company’s plant for nearly $15 an hour. All told, Amazon has hired 15,000 temporary workers at similar processing plants nationwide.
“There are jobs everywhere for people that live in RVs and are willing to move around,” said Shelia Sowder, a retiree who’s taken a job at Amazon’s Kentucky plant.
Sowder and her husband Jimmy, a former truck driver, are from Indianapolis, but they’ve been traveling the country for three years. While they’re parked in Kentucky, Amazon pays their rent and all utilities.
“It’s a fantastic deal,” Jimmy Sowder said.
Websites Link Mobile Workers with Employers
Websites help link employers with RV owners looking for jobs. At Workamper.com, paid subscribers have access to a database of job listings. According to the editor of the site, Steve Anderson, the community of “workampers” in the United States numbers around half a million people.
Often, these workers are retirees looking to earn money as they crisscross the United States, but some down-on-their-luck families have also turned to the highway for a leg up.
Heather Wickline and her family are from Tampa, where her husband lost his job in December. The couple are now on the road with their school-age children, and today, he’s at work. The kids are happy, and there’s a job waiting when the Amazon work ends.
“We just got a job offer from Louisville, but we’re hoping to go someplace south, like Texas or Florida,” Wickline said.