Maine Workamping Update: Final Edition
Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with or representing Acadia Bike and Coastal Kayaking Tours. We are simply detailing our experience for those interested in our Workamping Job in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Our second official workamping job has come to an end. Just like our last one, it was a positive experience. Our feet hurt less and the views were much better than our Amazon Camperforce experience in Campbellsville, Kentucky. This job also created what would be our longest stay at any one place since starting our Full-Time RV lifestyle 18 months ago. Since we are still relative newbies to the workamping world, we appreciate reading posts about others' experiences working on the road. So to those who have shared their stories with us - thank you! As a way to pay it forward, we hope this recap of our workamping experience in Maine will provide similar information for other newbies. Remember that your job experience is what you make of it. Below you will find some information about the job and area as well as some numbers that detail our experience.
The owners of Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours (Glenn and his daughter, Lauren) have experience in utilizing workampers for many, many years. They are aware of the difficulty of bringing in new people each and every year. As a seasonal business (May - October), it is just the nature of the business. They have gained benefit from returning workampers who have worked for them year after year. Being that there is a constant turn-around, they provide enough on-the-job training to allow you to do your job, but not every detail is covered. We both found times where we would just have to make a decision or figure out how to do something on the spot as it was never covered or talked about during training. They trusted that their employees (old or new) would make a sound decision. They were open to new ideas and didn’t get upset if you dealt with a situation a little differently then they would have. They fully supported their employees and would “have your back” if there was a situation with a frustrated customer.
Typically, the owners would leave the day-to-day details to the coordinators and managers, but were more than willing to help out or answer any questions. They were never far away and would offer a helping had when they could. Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours was generous and grateful. They often provided food at team meetings and offered a genuine “thank you” for a job well done. It was common for the manager to stop by and say “do you need anything from me?” before heading out for the day. They were also very accommodating for any specific scheduling requests. We were expected to be flexible, but they would also work around our schedule when possible. Now there were times that the needs of the business would determine the schedule, but if they could make it happen they were more than willing to accommodate requests.
We typically worked a 5-day work week. There were exceptions to that where we worked either more or less days per week. The number of hours they presented us in our contract was an average of 35 hours/week. There were weeks that we didn’t think we would make it to this number, but more hours as things got busier brought that average total right up. Glenn as an experienced business-owner knows best and we were both right around that 35 hour/week average. Russ averaged 38 hours/week and Betsy 36 hours/week. Being that this is a seasonal, weather-dependent, tourist-dependent business the demand for employees changes depending on several variables. At the beginning of the season, we often had two days off together and often those days were consecutive. That obviously was our preferred schedule. But as the season went on, there were weeks were we only had one day off together. Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours wears many different hats, meaning there are lots of things that have to come together each week to prepare the schedule. This often left us frustrated not knowing which days we would be working. This makes it important to remain flexible and go with the flow. Lucky for us, we typically have this mentality, but if you didn’t you might want to make schedule arrangements ahead of time. As the season continued, we found ourselves working more hours and often times different days, so we recommend doing a lot of sight-seeing early in the season where it is easier to predict schedules and get away!
We would consider the work environment at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours to be pretty laid-back. We knew what needed to be done and they expected it to be done, but there was never negative pressure to get things done. We certainly didn’t have that yucky feeling of “big brother” is watching! The work environment was positive and it was great meeting new co-workers from all walks of life. We lucked out with some great co-workers who made going to work fun! There was times where the laid-back structure bothered the Type A portion of our personalities, but being challenged is good, right? As for the things we were working with, it was a no frills business especially when it came to the fleet of vehicles. They did what was necessary to keep vehicles running, but no spending above the minimum. Tire-loving Russ had to close his eyes in hopes of not catching a glimpse of all those aged tires. Now the vehicles usually got from Point A to Point B without any issue, but they weren’t vehicles that you would write home about. We also mentioned it earlier, but considering we were employees of a tourist business there were two things driving the quantity of business - tourists and weather. Unfortunately those are two things that are nearly out of the companies control, so flexibility was a must.
So money isn’t everything, but everything needs money. So let’s get down to it… Russ worked an average of 38 hours/week and Betsy worked an average of 36 hours/week. We were paid $9.50/hour for all hours worked and received a bonus of $0.50/hour worked at the end of our contract. So essentially we made $10/hour. We did have a few weeks that we worked over 40 hours, so we were paid overtime pay (time and half) for those extra hours.
Comparable to Russ’ days in the corporate world? I think not. But, all that while spending 5 months exploring in an incredible part of our country. Acadia National Park was our playground and we had mountain and water views from our campground. Absolutely priceless! Not only that, we didn’t have that much responsibility. We went to work and someone told us what to do, we kind of liked that in contrast to being the owners of ICED by Betsy cupcake bakery.
While some workamping jobs include a free campsite as part of the job’s compensation, this one did not. However, we did receive a “discounted” rate at Narrows Too Camping Resort. I’m not certain if that was a discount because of our employment with Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours or due to a seasonal stay at the campground. Regardless it was certainly a very good rate near such a tourist destination. There were people in our campground paying nearly five times what we were. Now they may have been waterfront, but still the rate was good. Free would be better, but still good. It seems that this is common in the Maine area to offer pay, but not a free site.
In addition to the site rent, we were responsible for paying for our own electric. In our case, we averaged $99.20/month. If you are more like our friends Jay & Karen who didn't mind embracing the extremes such as sleeping in Arctic temperatures and basking in the heat during the day, you can plan to pay significantly less per month. Cable was an additional charge of $150 for the season. The cable lineup was adequate, but not high-definition. In our case, we opted to rent a cable box / DVR from the local cable provider at a cost of $26/month. This allowed us to have all HD channels, a channel guide, and a two-tuner DVR. Luxurious TV Life!
The job duties will vary depending on the job you are hired for. For us, the job description we received was very accurate of the jobs we were doing. There were times when Russ was lifting the 40th kayak of the day where he might have murmured this was not in my job description, only to go back and read “….you will be responsible for loading and unloading trailers with kayaks, bicycles and other recreational equipment”. And yes, there were times where I doubted that my job description mentioned that I would give directions of how to get to the carriage roads after giving them 50+ times in a single day, but alas it did “… you will provide route information and suggest possible trips.” Occasionally we were asked to do other jobs, but there was also the option to say no if it was something you were not comfortable doing. If you want to read more about our job duties, check out these monthly blog posts about our job experiences. (MONTH ONE, MONTH TWO, MONTH THREE, MONTH FOUR)
The location of our workamping job was pretty incredible. We got to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the tourist town of Bar Harbor, but within minutes could be “lost” on a quiet trail in the middle of Acadia National Park. Don't get me wrong their were times that the tourists and traffic could be overwhelming, but without the tourists the demand for workampers wouldn't be there. So keep on visiting Acadia, folks! The area provides an absolutely beautiful combination of mountains and coastline. Which conveniently may be two of my very favorite things. There are very few places in the United States that you can capture both the mountains and the ocean in one single frame. So while the scenery was spectacular, the weather was not always so for us warm weather seekers.
We arrived in May just in time for lots of rainy cold days. The same cold followed suit at the end of our time in Maine with chilly days and cold nights nearing freezing temperatures. However in contrast, the months of July, August, and September were incredible. Temperatures in the high 70s / low 80s during the day and high 50s at night. There was beauty in not sweating during those months and just enjoying the sunshine. We did have our fair share of blue skies and sunshine, but those chilly days tucked in were a surprising change. We did experience a record breaking Memorial Day in the 90s before returning to regularly scheduled chilly June shortly after. Foggy mornings were a very common occurrence often times clearing by late morning, but we also had a number of days were dense fog sat down and stayed all day.
Our location was coastal, but that didn’t equate to spending lots of time frolicking in the ocean. See the icy waters of Downeast Maine rarely exceed 55 degrees. Beautiful - yes, Swimmable - no.
Many workamping jobs are at campgrounds, meaning your home is parked the very same place you work. Our job with Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours required a 20 minute commute twice a day. Nothing compared to a typical urban commute, but still time tacked on to every workday. Parking was also at a premium near the office, so we usually left for work 45 minutes prior to get all parked and situated. Did that allow for some time to spare? Usually, but neither Russ or I are one to ever be late for things, especially work. While the daily drive was not the best, it was also nice to be home at the campground and know you did not have to do any work there. So obviously there is advantages and disadvantages to being parked where you work and vice versa.
OUR EXPERIENCE IN NUMBERS:
The number one question people ask is “WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?”
We certainly don’t plan to return to the same state year after year at this point in our nomadic career as many people do, as there are just too many places to see and things to experience. However, we can definitely picture ourselves returning to Maine and this employer (Glenn if you’ll have us) in the future! From the owners to the managers to our fellow co-workers, you made our experience incredibly fun and enjoyable. And Miss Katy - you were right, we would and did fall in love with Maine!
For anyone interested in working at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking Tours in the future, please send us a message. We would be happy to provide you with more details about our experience and try to answer any questions you may have.
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):