“Work Hardening” – Week #1 at Amazon

“Work Hardening” – Week #1 at Amazon

Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with or representing Amazon. We are simply detailing our workamping experiences for those interested during our time as Amazon Camperforce associates.

After settling into our Amazon-sponsored site at Green River Resort last weekend, we were looking forward to getting started with the reason we are here.  We are here to spend a couple of months making some moola and helping Amazon get through their Peak Season making their customers happy! We are here to make sure Lil’ Johnny & Sweet Sally get the correct toys delivered on time. 

Monday morning came early for us.  (Well, at least for Betsy it did! She’s not a big fan of waking up early after giving up her early starts everyday at her bakery!)  We had to be at the Fulfillment Center (FC) at 8:00 AM for a day full of orientation, training, and general indoctrination.  As with everything else up to this point in the process, everything on Monday was very organized and completed with a purpose.  Within the first 30 minutes of being there we were photographed for badges and settled into a room for some standard HR orientation stuff.  We were starting with approximately 60 Amazon CamperForce associates.  With campers starting as early as August 1, the Campbellsville, KY Fulfillment Center will onboard roughly 600 CamperForce associates this year.  

The morning moved along pretty well with a mix of videos, power points and speakers getting us all up to speed on safety, Amazon processes and Amazon culture.  Per Amazon’s instructions, Betsy and I had packed our lunch for Day 1.  It’s safe to say it had been a while since either of us had packed a lunch for work, and it’s even safer to say we had never packed lunch to go to work together!  YAY for lunch break dates! The 30 minutes went quickly in the cafeteria, and then we were back at it for an afternoon of safety school.

As it should be, safety is a big deal at Amazon.  The Fulfillment Center is a large warehouse with a lot of stuff and a lot of moving parts.  It felt good to know that Amazon was willing to spend almost half of our first day onsite explaining safety to protect us and everybody else in the facility.  The other highlight of our Day 1 experience was when we were informed what shift we would be working and what job we would be performing while we were there.  Betsy and I had agreed we would be open to any job and any shift.  We were going to earn some money so we would do whatever they asked us to do.  Well, it seems we may have been awarded with what nobody else wanted.  We were assigned to pick orders.  The short explanation is that we would be walking around the facility “picking” people’s orders from the shelves to be sent out.  We were assigned to work the night shift.  Night shift starts at 5:30 PM and runs until 4:00 AM, making it a 10-hour shift with a 30 minute unpaid lunch.  The night shift rewards you with a premium of $0.75/hour.  So in addition to our free site for two months, we will be earning $11.25/hour for our labors.

With the first day requirements out of the way we were ready to get on our feet the rest of the week and do something. (We may regret looking forward to getting on our feet after we do this for a couple of weeks!)  Our schedule for the rest of the first week (Tuesday – Friday) was five hours per day, technically a half-day based on our new hours.  This schedule is part of the “work hardening” process.  While they used these 20 hours to teach us how to “pick” items in the warehouse, it was also part of the process to get us acclimated to standing & walking (on concrete, mind you) for 10 hours/day.  The remainder of the week was filled with learning to navigate the warehouse, how to use the scanner, what to do when you encounter problems, how to get items from the racks into your tote, basically, how to keep Amazon customers smiling.  And once again, as with everything else, safety was always the overriding message.

We were lucky to be mixed in with CamperForce associates who had worked through previous peak seasons.  They were always willing to share helpful hints and tips to accelerate our learning curve and minimize our pain points.  Throughout our week there were a variety of full-time associates, also known as Amazon Ambassadors, who were always available to answer any questions or offer assistance. Thanks guys!

As we mentioned in the previous post, we are equipped with our Fitbits to provide you with some data about the distance we track while on the clock. We forgot to take into consideration that the wrist FitBits don’t work while pushing things, so we had to go to Plan B with those. Mine tucks conveniently in my pocket, while Betsy has hers strapped to her shoe! We will also be tracking our favorite/unique/funny item we “picked” each day. Most days, these will be apparel items as this fulfillment center is about 50% apparel which seems to be the area you could find us in most days. Check out our Week #1 mileage and favorite 'picks' at the end of this post.

We were certainly a bit sore with achy feet and backs, but nothing ice & heat packs couldn’t cure. We are some of the younger CamperForce associates and we have hope that in another 20 years we will still have the ability to tackle the job like so many of our coworkers. You guys are inspiring! Even by the end of the week, we seemed to be a little less sore and a little less tired. Also as night-shift newbies, we are still figuring out our sleeping and eating schedule. Is it really lunch if it’s 10:30 PM? Sure, why not! Breakfast at 3:30 PM - sounds okay to me. We certainly were very thankful for the “work hardening” schedule Amazon had us on to get us back in the grind of this crazy thing called “work”. We will see how our first week of 10-hour days treats us. 

Having finished our first week, Betsy and I were ready for a little break.  Next week we start our normal schedule, Wednesday – Saturday nights, 5:30 PM – 4:00 AM.  That means we really get a break since we will have almost five full days off.  The weather has been beautiful so we will definitely try to get an outing or two in during our days off.  So far we’ve met some great people and look forward to getting into the full swing of work to share as many Amazon Smiles as we can this holiday season.

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Our Trip to Derby City

Our Trip to Derby City

Our Arrival in Campbellsville

Our Arrival in Campbellsville