Today’s video comes from MSNBC, chronicling the migration of RVers to Kentucky to apply for the hundreds of seasonal positions opened up by Internet retail giant Amazon. According to the report, it is emblematic of a trend toward Workamping that has supplied RVers with an income during tough times. Below is an abbreviated summary of the report.
Camping season is long over in Campbellsville, Ky., but motorhomes and camper vans still fill its parking lots and motel rooms are booked for months.
When Amazon.com announced last month it was hiring for thousands of temporary positions at its Kentucky fulfillment centers for the holiday season, people from across the country converged upon the town of 10,000 in a rush to fill them.
“It’s like quick money for Christmas,” Rita DeMichiel of Florida, one of the temporary workers, said. “We get in, we get out.”
DeMichiel is part of a growing number of mobile job hunters who travel to Campbelsville during the holiday season with their entire families to work for $10 an hour, packing and shipping Amazon orders during 8-12 hour shifts.
“The pay is really good, it’s above minimum wage,” DeMichiel said. “They pay overtime, so financially for us it was a way to make quick money and then be on our way to the next destination.”
The camper vans filled with families, retirees or hard-up job seekers are becoming a holiday season staple in Campbelsville.
Ron McMahan, executive director of the Campbelsville-Taylor County Economic Development Authority, says these seasonal workers are adding dollars to local businesses.
“It’s like a three- to four-month convention,” McMahan said. “These people are here eating in restaurants, they need medical services, they are shopping in retail stores, they need camper repair.”
For most of the workers, hopscotching around the country for a paycheck is a lifestyle. When their work is done in Kentucky, they’ll drive their vans to the next job. Texas, Wyoming, Michigan are a few of the popular destinations for itinerant workers. Most of them hear about available jobs online or by word of mouth from other workers.
Debra and Mark Pinson traded in a three-bedroom house and a mortgage for life on the road. Their first time living in a work camp was this spring in Michigan. They now travel from job to job across the country in their RV, staying in work campgrounds rent-free.
“Well, the mortgage was $1,800 and we pay zero here,” Debra Pinson said. “There are jobs out there. You just have to go out and look for them.”
RV lifestyle expert Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak will be conducting two seminars during the Oct. 18-20 Workamper Rendezvous in Heber, Ark.
Hall-Bruzenak will be presenting “Workamping Basics: Seven Steps to Finding a Workamping Job” on Oct. 18-19. On Oct. 20, she will be hold two clinics on “Workamper Resumes.” Hall-Bruzenak is editor for Workamper Viewpoint and contributing columnist for Workamper News, while maintaining her own website and publishing RV Lifestyles, a bimonthly ezine.
Hall-Bruzenak and her late husband, Bill Hall, began traveling full-time in an RV in 1992. Their first jobs were at Grand Teton National Park as seasonal workers for the National Park Service. Between them they worked at seven national parks in maintenance and as an interpretive ranger; at a houseboat company; sold Christmas trees; and worked in the tourist industry.
After eight years as full-time RVers, the couple bought a home-base in Arizona and traveled and workamped part-time. She authored “Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider’s Guide to Working on the Road” in 2002 (now available in its’ third edition) and shifted her focus to writing and marketing her books. She has written four others with her writing partner, Alice Zyetz: “ RV Traveling Tales: Women’s Journeys on the Open Road,” “The Woman’s Guide to Solo RVing,” “ Retire to an RV: The Roadmap to Affordable Retirement” and “Taking the Mystery out of RV Writing.” Currently, she continues her travels with her husband, George Bruzenak.
The price to attend the three-day event, which includes ten other experts, several meals and entertainment, is $148 per person (or save $50 off if you sign up early). Lodging can be found at local motels or if in an RV, at several close-by U.S.Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds.
For those who want an in-depth seminar given by Hall-Bruzenak on Oct. 21 for a resume makeover or the start of “Workamping 101,” sign up here.
A Workamper Rendezvous will be held Oct. 18-20 in Heber Springs, Ark. According to a press release, the scenic town offers a state-of-the art community center that will enable up to 225 attendees to learn what the workamping lifestyle is all about and how to get started or improve their success.
The main focus is to allow experienced Workampers to mingle with those that are just exploring the RV lifestyle. Attendees learn from each other along with the 11 experts that present seminars on Workamping opportunities, RV maintenance, choosing a domicile, handling finances, mail, taxes as well as how to legally deduct a lot of expenses while working on the road. Small business opportunities will also be discussed, including the proper legal treatment so that less money is sent to the IRS.
The RV kitchen and cooking tips are a topic of interest along with slide show presentations of great places to work and volunteer. Several employers will be on hand to discuss their opportunities, including Amazon Inc., which hires thousands of workampers each year, especially October through December.
A representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Volunteer Clearinghouse will tell people about the countrywide opportunities to live in beautiful places while earning an income for a season or more, or volunteering for a short period of time.
On Oct. 21, several of the RV living experts will be presenting even more at a Bonus Day. Options are: Terry Cooper, RV Maintenance – get to know your rig and maintain it to prevent problems and save money; Jaimie Hall Bruzenak, RV lifestyle expert – how to write a resume, interview, get the right employment situation; George Montgomery, the “Tax Master” – choose a domicile, tax deductions, bookkeeping on the road; special guest Mark Kohler, attorney, CPA, author, entrepreneur and well-known speaker – Small Business, Tax & Legal Symposium.
Most workampers are retired or semi-retired, but more and more young couples, singles or families are pursuing their dream of traveling the country with the seasons, supporting their lifestyle through Workamper opportunities that Workamper News Inc. advertises in their membership magazine or online daily Hotlines.
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, and read the following story in its entirety from the newspaper.
For the past decade, retired mechanic David Standaert has been in transit, towing his 27-foot travel trailer to scenic places coast to coast.
The 71-year-old Pequannock, N.J., native is living the Jack Kerouac dream, clocking thousands of miles in his mobile bachelor pad.
As Standaert tours national wildlife refuges, he meets other free spirits and explores a variety of environs, encompassing dark forests, red deserts and rocky shorelines. His Kodak moments include closeups of wolves, alligators and snakes.
He offsets the cost of his adventures by working part time at each refuge he visits. Helping out 20-something hours a week earns him a sweet spot to park his trailer for a few months, often with a free electrical hookup.
“I have no problems explaining this lifestyle to people,” says Standaert. “They may have a problem understanding it.”
He is based at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex, N.J., through October.
“If I had to take planes and trains and pay for motels, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to see what I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Standaert says.
The coupling of RV travel and seasonal employment is known as “workamping,” a movement that dates back two decades. The average age of a workamper is 59 and the estimated population of the roving community is climbing, according to Steve Anderson, editor of Workamper News. About 750,000 people are on the roll.