Park your rig at any 20 campgrounds scattered over this great land and you will find 20 different styles of hosting. Some work beaverishly all day and into the night, others spend most of their visible time working on a tan, some try to remain invisible. Some are story-tellers, a few are enthusiastic recruiters for their employer, a few keep to themselves. They have one thing in common: to keep a place clean, every man Jackson among them must work more hours than he is “allowed” to. That means lots of off-the-clock time. It’s a big job, sports fans, and they dress us in 50-50 tee-shirts and polyester khakis; fashion plates we ain’t.
Those who work directly for a government agency do less work but apparently receive no paycheck. Instead they are usually rewarded with a full hookup site plus hourly credits that accumulate to several nights of free camping in National Parks, Rec Areas, and Corps of Engineers parks. We who work for private management companies fall under Federal wage and hour law and must be compensated monetarily. We are assigned a much wider range of duties, such as painting, plumbing and electrical repairs, not to mention low-grade police actions much like meter maids or stadium ushers. Since the outsourced management company wants to maximize profits, privately run camps expect their employees to operate equipment long after it’s worn out. They do everything imaginable to cut costs.
Every host has to count mountains of beans; too many jackasses pay in coins, short-pay, or demand change for a fifty dollar bill. (I’ve learned to offer those dudes a bundle of ones, whereupon they miraculously locate a five.) The paperwork is abundant and fiendishly difficult to follow. It’s so complex that I can only surmise that it’s typically so inaccurate as to be useless in any kind of audit. Guests complete the source documents to further muddy the waters. But hey, I love that stuff the way pigs groove on slop. Hosting would be a good business, if not for the damned customers.
Some of our visitors gripe about having to pay anything – it’s a public park. I say “The government’s broke; they can print money but it runs on debt. The Feds set aside the land long ago and now expect users to pay for its care.” That doesn’t go over as well as you might think, but hey, WV is a Red State. Next weekend I’ll try this response, in my best accent de la Espanol. “Ees my yob to collect these fees, senor. I no can let you een weethout paying the dinero.” I will do this for my amusement, hoping to not get shot. Other scofflaws blow past our self-service pay station at 30 mph. That polyestered brown-shirt Kat tracks them down on her bicycle. In her drill sergeant voice she mercilessly barks these words, several times daily: “Step out of the car, sir. You skipped the pay station back there. It’ll be four dollars, or you have to leave now. The choice is yours. Well? Go ahead punk, make my day.”
But it’s a lovely place and we do get two or three relatively peaceful days per week. Next post I’ll tell you about some of the fun things we have seen and done.