Workamping in Texas: Six Month Update
Similar to life in general, a “day in the life” of a workamper is neither typical nor the same as the day before. With that being said, there are some daily tasks, responsibilities and routines that we have as workampers at Texas Lakeside RV Resort (TLRVR - Using this acronym will make both of our lives easier!). So, in this our second quarterly workamping update from TLRVR, Betsy and I will attempt to convey to you what a “typical” day working here is like. If questions or comments pop in your head while you read this update, please leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Ok, so the name itself gives you some idea where I spend most of my day. But I won’t jump ahead, so let me start at the beginning of my day. Our work hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, with an hour for lunch. Betsy and I leave our camper at 8:45 am to begin our lengthy 30 step commute to the TLRVR office. No, I know what you’re thinking, we are not slow walkers! We actually walk at a pretty good pace. We begin our day a little early so that we can grab a golf cart in front of the office and ride around the park. I take care of the driving (normally while drinking an iced coffee) while Betsy rides shotgun and takes care of the real meaning for our ride. It is important for us to document the unoccupied sites in the park so Betsy can true up RV’s that may have arrived or departed since yesterday, or from the last time we worked. Think of it as a daily “audit” to compare what’s in Campground Manager (The reservation system that Betsy will talk about I’m sure) and what’s actually in the park. I just had to use the word audit after being an auditor for a little more than half of my 26 years at Verizon. I guess I should say at this point that auditing campsites is more fun that auditing “phone stuff”.
We arrive back from our morning ride at the office before 9:00 to unlock the front door and open for business. While Betsy gets the computer fired up I unlock the door between the office and the clubhouse and proceed to open all of the exterior doors of the clubhouse and the door into the laundry room. I then take a few minutes to sit at her desk, finish my coffee and we discuss any questions / discrepancies / issues that need resolved as she sorts through emails and her “audit” sheet. And if we have any extra time we sometimes move on to solving the world’s problems. (Although this doesn’t happen very often!)
So around 9:15 I head out to unlock the pool / spa area right outside of the clubhouse. The pool technically opens at 9:00, but up to this point I have not had people waiting in line to get into the pool before I unlock it. Although as summer arrives I may have to get the pool unlocked a little earlier, we’ll see. After unlocking I spend some time straightening the pool furniture, cleaning the pool and pool area, and using test strips to test the pool and spa water. At TLRVR we test and document the water readings on a daily basis in a log book. The results of these readings then lead me add chemicals to the pool / spa as necessary. Some days no chemicals needed! Score one for daily maintenance. Normally both require me to add some water to keep them at optimal water levels. Clean the pool skimmers and clean any visible debris from them both, and they are sparkly clean for our guests to enjoy.
I then jump on one of the golf carts (there are two here at TLRVR) and start what I like to call my “trash run”. This entails riding around the outside perimeter of the park, as well as up and down every interior road, to pick up any trash on the ground. Nope, not very complicated, if I can see something that doesn’t look like it belongs there I stop and pick it up. I don’t want to imply that our guests are messy. Quite the contrary, our guests are normally very neat. You see, it’s quite windy here most of the time and trash blows onto the property from parts unknown quite often. The trash along the road on the park perimeter is normally from vehicles driving by, but picking it up is any easy way to improve the appearance of our park to the passing general public. Included on my “trash run” is also emptying the doggy bag containers we have around the park. We provide four stations around the lake and at the dog run that include a dispenser for doggy bags to clean up after your pet and a wooden box to dispose of the bag. I empty these daily on my trip around the park.
With these tasks completed, it is time to get to one of my primary functions here, mowing grass! TLRVR is about 20 acres in size with 138 concrete sites. There is also a four acre lake in the middle of the park. With all of this concrete and water you wouldn’t think there would be a lot of grass to cut. Well, you would be wrong. Between myself and Mike, the other workamper at TLRVR, we spend a good portion of almost every work day mowing grass. We accomplish this with a 52 inch zero turn mower. We carefully wind our way between every site and every RV before moving onto the more open common areas around the park. With all of that concrete there is a good deal of edging / trimming that is performed by Victor, a regular employee who has worked at the park for several years.
Ok, so what do we do when we’re not cutting grass. Well, the easy answer is “Stay out of the sun!”. But no, seriously, the other job that we do quite a bit is power wash / clean the concrete sites after a long-term guest departs. We use a 32 inch circular surface cleaner attached to a power washer to accomplish this. The concrete sites get dirty over time even if the guest does nothing to cause this. The dirt is normally a combination of algae from air conditioner condensation, dirt from work trucks, motor oil, rust, etc. Oh yea, motor oil and rust don’t come out of concrete no matter how hard you try. If you know of some secret potion to remove motor oil from white concrete, please do share! TLRVR management and staff would be eternally grateful. The goal is always to have the site looking new when the next guest arrives.
Immediately after lunch every day, around 2:00 pm, I head to the back of the park to the rear shower / laundry building. Yes, our job here requires us to clean bathrooms! But, honestly, it’s really not that bad. Betsy takes care of the six shower rooms in the main building, and I clean the four shower rooms in the rear of the park. These are individual rooms that have a toilet, sink and shower. They are nicely appointed with tile floors and walls and granite vanities. Since they are cleaned daily they really never get that dirty. The job entails wiping them down and mopping the floors. A mop and wipe down of the laundry room completes my cleaning chore for the day.
So I’ve shared the typical jobs I do on (almost) a daily basis. There lots of other things that I can get involved in on any given day. These include:
Read electric meters - When a guest departs it is necessary to read the electric meter so this number can be input into Campground Manager. Sometimes it’s easier for me to go read the meter than for Betsy to close the office and go read it herself. Easy task, quickly accomplished.
Trim trees and bushes - We have quite a bit of shrubbery and trees on the grounds here at TLRVR. Occasionally these need trimmed or pruned. When a palm frond bends or breaks, they need to be immediately removed for the health of the tree.
Paint - With several buildings on the property I have had the task of repainting the rear shower / laundry building a vibrant teal color. And also the task of painting the brown trim on the columns on the front of the clubhouse.
Plant palm trees - When we first arrived I helped replant about 20 palm trees that were lost as a result of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
Basic plumbing and electricity - With ten bath / shower rooms, two laundry rooms, an office and a clubhouse there has occasionally been a need for basic plumbing repair, light bulb replacement and electrical breaker replacement. Nothing complex with the right tools and good instruction.
Dispense propane - Whenever a customer requests propane Betsy gives me a call and I come to the front of the clubhouse to dispense propane to their cylinder or motor home. Obviously this was more frequent in the cooler months and should drop off in the summer months.
So that just about wraps up my little “Day in the Life” of Workamper Russ. It’s a little wordy, but hey, I didn’t want to miss anything. And as any workamper already knows, anything could come up in the next six months we are scheduled to work here at TLRVR.
So Russ gave you the rundown of our morning routine before we open the office doors at 9:00 AM. Once the office doors are unlocked, it is usually a bit different than when I would open the office doors at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking to a large lineup of people eagerly waiting to rent bikes. While there might be a few people looking for assistance or a few people to call back right away from an early morning phone call, it rarely is overwhelming! Once Russ & I get on the same page for the day, he heads to play “pool boy” and I get started on my daily tasks.
My first goal to is to figure out who we have coming and going from the park for the day. In other words, the check-ins and the check-outs. While we always hope we know how many people plan to arrive and depart, I often find myself saying “Where did that RV come from” as it pulls out of the park! The majority of the guests in our park are monthly guests who work at petroleum plants in the area. This means they often come and go to follow the work. Often times they will find out one day that they need to report to a different location the next, meaning they sometimes fail to let us know they will be leaving. I always hope Russ spotted them pulling out so we can track down the now empty site. We also have RV’s pull up who don’t have a reservation, so we quickly get them one and get them headed to their site. I enjoy getting to chat with these folks about where they came in from, the nature of their visit to Port Lavaca, and where they are headed next. Sometimes there will even be one of those “small world” connections!
Once I feel confident of the anticipated check-ins / check-outs, I take a look the notes in the calendar. This is where we write reminders of things that should happen on certain days such as Site #’s that might be checking-out or emails that need to be sent. I also review the payments due each day, such as rent, storage, or electric payments. In the midst of doing these tasks, the phone often rings ….. “Thank you for calling Texas Lakeside RV Resort. This is Betsy. How may I help you?” The most common response to that question, “Is do you have any sites available?” Thankful that Russ and I did our “audit” of sites in the morning, this provides me with an up-to-date status of site availability and we are able to get a reservation put in for them quickly. During our 6 months here so far, we have maintained a pretty full occupancy, but have yet to ever have the park 100% full. That is my goal.
Daily, we have guests whose rent payments are due. Some chose to have their rent scheduled for auto pay. Now this makes it sound like I’m off the hook on their payment as well. It should automatically pay, right? Let me explain - I am the auto pay portion of their payment. For anyone whose payment is due on a given day, I go into their account see if they have requested auto-pay and process the payment. For those that aren’t on auto-pay, I send them a friendly reminder email to contact the office with their payment information. I also have to be the “bad guy” who adds late fees to their account when payments are not made within three days. Definitely one of the no-so-fun tasks of my job. Since I don’t make the rules, I have to enforce the rules.
By this time, it is usually mail time. Typically around 10:30, our friendly mailman John Michael brings in a tote full of mail and packages. Guests of the park can receive mail delivery, so not a day goes by we don’t get mail even Sundays now (due to Amazon Sunday delivery). Mail gets sorted into a plastic organizer hanging on the door with guests names and site numbers. Packages get put in alphabetically order on a book shelf and guests get notified by yours truly that they have received a package. Since we typically see the Mail Man, UPS man, and multiple Fed Ex delivery drivers daily, I wait and send an afternoon mass “You Got Mail” email out.
Once the Mail Man has come and gone, it is on to bathroom cleaning. While I know many people would despise doing this daily, I don’t really mind it at all. This may be partially because I get to be outside on sunny Texas days in contrast to spending the majority of my day inside the office and clubhouse. Russ usually checks the bathrooms first thing in the morning to make sure their aren’t any major “surprises.” When mid-morning comes around, they get a full cleaning! They are really easy to clean and when cleaned on a daily basis, they stay in great shape. I have to admit they are definitely some of nicest and cleanest campground bathrooms I have come across! Each bathroom has a toilet, sink with granite countertop, and large tiled shower. I clean 4 outside bathrooms and 2 bathrooms inside the clubhouse. The process typically takes about 45 minutes, but there have been days the process has taken twice that. You see, while cleaning the bathrooms, I lock up the office and place a sign that says “I’m cleaning the bathrooms on the pool side of the clubhouse.” Now locking up the office, does not keep the phone from ringing, the FedEx man from showing up, or the guest who has a hankering for some of the tasty candy we sell from stopping by. There is often quite a few interruptions during my attempt in getting the bathrooms squeaky clean. While bathroom cleaning is not glamorous work, it certainly isn’t difficult. Russ and I joke that all is good until the “hamburger tongs” have to come out. You see sometimes, there are messes left that result in needing to remove wads of toilet paper from the bowl. So if you come visit and we fire up the grill, beware of the “hamburger tongs”! Never fear, those don’t come near our RV.
Usually after finishing up the bathrooms, I unlock the office and continue with other cleaning tasks in the clubhouse, including cleaning out lint from the dryers, wiping down machines in the fitness center, and vacuuming the door mats. My nemesis is the doors and windows. Just when I get the glass sparkly and clean, I find more fingerprints! The morning cleaning routine ends with a lunch break around 1 PM.
After our lunch break which we often call “Salad Hour,” we head back to the office. This is when I usually send out the “You Got Mail” email and any other reminder emails to the guests of the park. I take another look at the chore chart and make a plan of attack for the rest of the day. Since this is the time that Russ is trying to clean the bathrooms in the back of the park, this is when we get calls for propane. So, I have to interrupt him with a phone call of “We have someone who needs a propane refill!” While waiting to check out the propane guest, a take this time to inventory and restock merchandise in the store. The most frequent sellers being food and drinks whether for human consumption or fish food for the stocked lake in the middle of the park!
Once all the cleaning tasks are completed for the day, I work on the monthly newsletter we send out at TLRVR or event fliers for things we have coming up like our Memorial Day weekend festivities. Looking for a place to camp for Memorial Day weekend? Come join us for the weekend’s ice cream social, cookout, and coffee & donuts get-together! We try to keep our guests also informed of things going on in the local area, so I also spend time scouring local chamber of commerce websites and reading the events page of the local newspaper.
The work days always seem to go quick at TLRVR as there is always phone calls to answer, emails to respond to, cleaning to be done, and projects to be worked on. Before long, it is time to close out the cash drawer and receipts for the day. It is hard to believe, we have already been on the job for 6 months, making this officially the longest we have ever been in one place since embarking on our Full-Time RV journey.
If you are interested in Workamping at Texas Lakeside RV Resort, feel free to touch base with us. We can get you in touch with the owners of the park. They are frequently looking to fill positions at both Texas Lakeside RV Resort and their other park, Serendipity Bay RV Resort, located about 30 minutes away in Palacios, TX.
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):