Workamping in Maine: Month Three on the Job
As the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” That definitely applies to our work experience so far at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking. Three months of work are now behind us, along with the busy summer months. The end is just around the corner, with only about six weeks left in our workamping adventure in Bar Harbor, ME. If you are curious about the world of Workamping, see our note at the end of this post.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Betsy
This time of year, reservations were recommended to anyone and everyone as the only way to guarantee a bike rental or kayak tour for a certain day. I’ve become pretty quick in getting a bike or kayak reservation entered into the computer whether with a customer in the store or over the phone. As mentioned above, we have had more than one time that while trying to enter a kayak reservation as fast as physically possible, the spots were filled by a customer booking on our online reservation system. That’s a bummer when you have to let the excited customers know that there are no longer any seats on the kayak tour they were so looking forward to going out on.
As an opener in the morning, there were many days we would start renting bikes at 8 AM sharp and be approaching a sell-out of our big fleet of bikes by 10 AM. They had told us this time of year would come, but it seemed nearly impossible to believe. Okay, okay, I’m a believer now! This lovely tourist town & national park are a hip-hopping during the month of August. Along with all the bike rental patrons, add a couple hundred kayak customers that come in for their guided tours each day. That’s a lot of customers to keep happy & smiling every day. We do what we can and for the most part we succeed!
I’ve really enjoyed working with such wonderful people at the office, some of which I’ve known for years like my sister-in-law, Annette, and good friend, Karen, but also have had fun learning about my other customer service friends Bonnie & Angela. We always try to be found having a great time! We have managed to create a pretty good system so that everyone is on the same page at any moment in time.
My favorite part of the process is getting to hear how much our customers enjoyed their biking experience on the carriage roads. We’ve had complaints about the length and grade of the inclines, but not once have I heard that the magnificent scenery was not good enough. I can’t count how many times I have heard customers say, “That was the best bike ride I have every been on!”. This beautiful area of our country, makes my job easy!Time is a ticking on our contract here in Bar Harbor, Maine. So enough of the typing, it’s time to get outside and enjoy this area just like each and every one of our customers! Here is a peak into our lovely rustic office...
DRIVER - Russ
The crowds of July seamlessly became the crowds of August. Who would have thought so many people came to this tiny Maine island during the summer vacation season? Certainly not me. The owner and coordinators at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking had told us more than once early in the season that the town of Bar Harbor would be packed in July and August. Well, they were right on target.
My daily work life did not change much in August. My days were almost exclusively dedicated to the transportation and launching of happy groups of kayakers. Some of them were seasoned kayakers, wanting to experience kayaking in Frenchman’s Bay and the waters of the North Atlantic. While some of them had never been in a kayak before, but still looking for that same experience. That is a large part of our kayak guides’ job, to evaluate the customers on every tour, determine their skill level and make them feel comfortable paddling a kayak in 50 degree waters. Almost every customer’s biggest fear when heading out on a tour is the thought of capsizing their kayak in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. The guides take the time before every tour to review the important safety points of getting out of the boat in the event of a capsize. They explain if a capsize does occur, they can have them back in the boat in 2 - 3 minutes. And, more importantly, some tips on how to avoid experiencing a capsize in the first place. Important things like; sitting up straight in the boat, not reaching out to either side while in the boat, not grabbing other people’s paddles, not reaching back to adjust the rudder, etc. With all of that being said, you’re still dealing with humans and they do things they’re not supposed to do sometimes. In the first three months of the season, I can only remember less than a half dozen capsizes out of the several hundreds, if not thousands, of kayakers. Obviously none would be better, but not a bad number.
Dropping off the customers, the guide, and the boats has become a pretty routine part of the job at this point. Notice I said routine, not easy! A full tour still requires unloading six, 110 lb. tandem kayaks and a single 80 lb. kayak for the guide. If my schedule doesn’t require me to immediately leave and pick up another group, it’s part of my job to stay with the guide and assist him/her in getting the customers fitted in their boat, making sure their PFD and spray skirt are correct and then launching them into the water. Staying to help with this part of the tour has allowed me to hear all of the guides instruction and safety speeches. They all vary slightly, but essentially give the same information. At this point I’ve heard it enough times that I could give the instructions without much thought. No, I did NOT say I could or would be a guide, but Icould sure give a detailed instruction speech! The most time consuming part of launching a group is assisting the customers adjust the pedals in the rear cockpit of the kayak. All of our kayaks have a rudder on the back of the boat that is used to steer the kayak. This rudder is controlled by two foot pedals inside the rear cockpit. Since no two people are usually the same height, they almost always need some adjustment. It took me a while, but I am now comfortable explaining to a customer that I’ll need to reach between their legs as they are sitting in their kayak and adjust a pedal that is down by their feet. Most of the time, this process would go off without a hitch, but there were a couple of customer comments during this process when I tried hard not to laugh and remain professional, but I was not always successful. Probably not a skill that will find its way on to my resume!
Supposedly with the summer kayak rush behind us, my job will morph a little bit into more driving as the cruise ship count increases. But I’ll never regret the sore back, shoulders, and arms during the busiest times of the summer. Some days I even had flashbacks to our time at Amazon as I utilized some of Betsy’s essential oil potions to get me through the days. Even on the so-called “bad days” with a lot of tours and boats, I still found myself enjoying a beautiful sunset on the bar, a spectacular view of some boats on the water, or seeing some form of wildlife scamper or swim by. While most of the wildlife is sea life or bird life, it also including the baby deer (yes, we know it's called a fawn) in the video below making a run for it or should I say swim to Bar Harbor. So, up to this point, the good still far outweighs the bad! Just call me another happy workamper enjoying my life!
If you are curious about the world of Workamping, checkout Workamper® News the company that coined the term Workamper® back in 1987. They offer a free membership that allows you to search for jobs and receive the digital version of their magazine. If you do opt for the gold membership which includes additional features like a resume builder & printed magaizine, we would love if you would mention that you were referred by Russ & Betsy simply by using the code AMB103.
RUSS & BETSY'S WORKAMPING REVIEWS / UPDATES:
- - - Texas Lakeside RV Resort in Port Lavaca, Texas (November 2017 - November 2018):
- - - Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine (June - October 2017):
- - - Amazon Camperforce in Campbellsville, Kentucky (October - December 2016):