Workamping in Texas: Three Month Update
Who? What? When? Where? Why? Sounds like a literature teacher reminding you what to include in your book review project in high school. Don’t worry we aren’t assigning any homework, rather we are giving you a update on what our workamping job looks like here in Texas.
As many of you already know, we are Russ & Betsy Gibbons, a husband and wife team that started our full-time RV journey in May 2016. We are big fans of learning new things and love trying anything at least once. We are not afraid to roll up our sleeves, get a little dirty, and get a job done. As we explore the country together, it is our desire to work in positive, customer-centered work environments and expand our skills at each stop along the way. It is our goal to be able to explore different parts of the country and experience what those locations have to offer. We hope to get to know many different people and form working relationships while creating memories for years to come. Along the way we find time to enjoy some of the things we love, such as biking, kayaking, blogging, and reading. So that is us in a nutshell, and we hope our jobs here at Texas Lakeside RV Resort will match up with the goals outlined above. So far, so good and we already have 3+ months under our belts.
BETSY -- I play the role of the campground office worker or as our job description called it, the inside job. My main responsibilities is assisting guests, taking reservations, and keeping everything surrounding the clubhouse clean and tidy. While I had never used the software system, Campground Manager, after a few days I felt fairly comfortable with how it works. But don’t let that confidence fool you as I still have to call the owners and occasionally Campground Manager’s live help for assistance.
The RV Resort has a beautiful Texas-sized clubhouse right off of the office where you will find private shower rooms, a kitchen, fitness center, and laundry room. So dusting, sweeping, mopping, and emptying trash keep me busy between assisting customers both in the office and over the phone. Some of you may wonder why we enjoy jobs that include tasks that many people try to avoid, such as cleaning bathrooms and other ‘yucky’ jobs, but the reality of it is we really enjoy the low stress, the sense of freedom in short-term work, and not being the one that has to know all the answers!
In between the office work and cleaning, I also assist in planning campground events and creating event fliers the second of which is right up my alley! We had a fun Super Bowl party (Way to Go Eagles!) and coming up next is an Ice Cream Social and St. Patrick’s Day Pancake Breakfast. Told you its cool here, come visit!
RUSS -- I play the role of maintenance / handy man, or as our job description called it, the outside job. That responsibility includes a lot of things, but primarily it means to keep the RV park looking good and working as it should. In order to accomplish this, I need to rely on some skills that I already had, and I needed to add some skills to my arsenal.
Texas Lakeside RV Resort has 138 sites which are poured concrete pads. The sites, along with the roads, mean there’s lots of concrete here. But that does not mean we are lacking grass. Between every site, and around the perimeter of the park is all grass. Grass that needs cut, often. And just about every time you cut the grass, it’s necessary to get out the power trimmer and edge the concrete and trim under, and around, the RV’s. Ok, cutting, trimming, and edging grass is a skill which I developed since about the age of 12. Or at least as soon as I was allowed to push the lawn mower. The skill I had to acquire since arriving here is the skill of operating a zero turn mower. It was a little humorous at first but I can now buzz around the park like a pro.
Oh yea, all of that concrete I mentioned. Well, that white concrete gets pretty dirty, especially since some of our guests are here for extended periods of time. Fortunately we have a pretty good tool to resolve that, a 32-inch surface cleaner which is attached to a power washer. This combination allows me to clean a site without any chemicals, and with minimal effort.
The outside job also includes being a pool boy. Texas Lakeside has a nice pool and hot tub that require cleaning, brushing, checking and adding pool chemicals as needed. Although I’ve never owned and maintained a pool, it is certainly something that is rewarding and something I enjoy doing.
While I’m on duty, I am also responsible for pumping propane when required. These requests for propane can come from a customer staying in our park or an outside customer just passing by. In order to perform this task, the State of Texas required me to attend a one day training class and pass a certification test.
Our park has a rear building that has a second laundry room and four shower rooms. One of my daily responsibilities is to clean and maintain this building. Ok, yes, I clean bathrooms for 30 or 40 minutes every day. What can I say, it’s not that bad and rewarding to see the finished product.
The rest of my day is pretty much emptying trash receptacles and picking up trash blowing around the park. Spraying Roundup for weeds or poison for ants when necessary. (Yes, the rumor of Texas sized ant mounds is a real thing!) And you can throw in any other maintenance or repairs that come up. That could include changing the mixer valve on a shower to replacing the electric meter at a site. Pretty much, my job is to keep Texas Lakeside RV Resort as attractive as it was when we got here!
When we first started we were scheduled to work 3 days a week (Monday - Wednesday) from 9 AM - 6 PM. While we loved the thought of four day weekends and time to travel and explore the large state of Texas, we knew our budget spreadsheet would remain happier with an extra day. Lucky for us, the opportunity presented itself to work an additional day. Unfortunately this also changed our days of the week we work to Thursday - Sunday. Good for less crowded grocery shopping and banking runs, but not so good for all the fun weekend events and farmers’ markets in many of the cities in the area. The days of the week we work are part of the when, but the other part is how long we will be here. When we signed on and started in November, we committed for a year at this job. That is longer than we typically commit to a workamping job, but we completely understand not wanting to continue to train new people every few months, especially at a campground that stays up year-round. We look forward to being in Texas for a year and seeing how things change at a campground from season to season.
All this talk of workamping in Texas doesn’t really give you much of an idea of where we actually are located. If I told you we were working at a campground in Rhode Island, you would only have about 1,000 square miles to look for us, rather here in Texas it would require you to wander 261,797 square miles to find us. We are at Texas Lakeside RV Resort which is located in Port Lavaca, Texas. Port Lavaca, which means Port of the Cow, is located near the center point of the 275-mile Texas Gulf Coast about halfway between Galveston and Corpus Christi. While we’re not quite sure that it lives up to its nickname of Paradise on the Bay, we certainly don’t have any problem calling it home for the next 9 months. If we do tire of the small-town, rural area we are about 2 hours from Houston, Galveston, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. We will certainly talk more about the area as we get out and explore more now that the temperature has warmed a bit!
So now you have a little better idea of where we are, but why are we here. Well when we departed on this big full-time RV adventure, it was to do three things SEE the country, live a SIMPLE life, and LOVE each other. We knew that taking this job would allow us to SEE a part of the country we hadn’t seen much of. Russ had visited a few parts of Texas mainly for work, but I had never set foot in the Lone Star State. As we do when we are in any area for an extended period of time, we make a “to-see” list. We have crossed a few things off the list, but still have several places to visit and things to see, but those will belong in another post, another day! We also took this job as we wanted to work at a campground. We have talked before about where we typically locate our jobs, which is from a website called Workamper News. Way more than half of the jobs advertised are at campgrounds and in our first 18 months on the road, we had not yet worked at a campground. We wanted to get one on our resume and the opportunity to work a year and really understand the whole process was a bonus.
We’ve answered the 5W’s above, but that would leave some of these little special details out. We do get paid for all hours worked at $10/hour and our site and electric are included at no charge. Essentially we live here for free. Something we could have never come close to saying while living in our house in Pennsylvania. So these monetary benefits are pretty great, but our favorite perks come without a price tag. We live where we work and while sometimes that means you can’t get away from the job, it still has its rewards. We have absolutely no commute, unless you consider the 30-second walk to the office each morning and and back each night a commute. The morning walk usually comes with a cool breeze (for now at least) and the nightly walk with a colorful sun-setting sky. Our previous workamping jobs did require a drive to work and while the drive into Bar Harbor was incredibly scenic it still was added time to our day and required more trips to the gas station. Our car does not move for at least 4 days every week! We also have a laundry facility at our workplace. It requires lots of quarters, but I can say that is the first time I have had that benefit on the job site. Without a doubt, our absolute favorite part of living where we work is getting to come home for lunch every day. We get an hour lunch break and siting in the recliner, catching up on DVR’d shows all while on lunch break is fabulous. I am still responsible for answer calls during that time, but I’ll take it!
While this wasn’t a A+ book review, we sure hope you will give us a passing grade. We will follow up with another update in May. As always, if you have any questions or comments, we would love for you to share them with us down below.
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):