Want Free Camping for a Year? Become a Camp Host!

The following article was written exclusively for frugal-rv-travel.com as a guest post.


Earlier this spring while on a weekend getaway to a campground not far from home, I saw a sign in the window of the entrance station, “ CAMP HOST WANTED.” I whispered quietly to myself, “No thanks.” The idea just sounded like extra work to me.

Fifteen minutes later, as I was setting up camp and getting ready to nestle in for a couple days of sunshine and carefree leisure, a friendly gentleman walked up to me and began a conversation. He talked about the western tanagers that he saw earlier in the day and the great sunset the night before. After several minutes he excused himself and told me to look him up if I needed anything. “I’m a camp host,” he said.

What Does A Camp Host Do?

After dinner I strolled through the campground in the cooling comfort of the evening shade. Approaching a site marked “Camp Host—Walt” I decided to stop in and say hello. For the next hour, sitting beside Walt’s eye-catching cast iron campfire, he shared with me the many reasons he likes to work as a camp host.

  • Free camping all season. Walt told me that for anyone on a fixed income or tight budget, camp hosting is a great way to go. Some parks even pay camp hosts.
  • His is the only site in the campground with full hook ups. I know from experience that campsites with water, sewer, and electrical hook ups cost about twice as much as a basic site. Walt also told me that he gets internet and telephone in his camp host site.
  • Meeting new friends. Rod McKuen writes, “Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” Walt makes friends with new people nearly every week. They come from all over the country and even a few from overseas. He brags about his pen pals and how they share information on his hobbies of bird watching, coin collecting, and fishing. Many of his local friends return just to spend an evening relaxing around the fire together.
  • Teaching others what he’s learned. During his lifetime, Walt picked up a lot of information on camping etiquette and cost cutting measures that he enjoys teaching to others.
  • Making a difference—giving back to the places he has enjoyed during his life. Being a camp host, Walt explained, is his opportunity not to only enjoy outdoor recreation, but to give something back. He enjoys teaching kids to fish, working with wildlife groups to take annual bird counts, and caring for natural areas.
I have to admit, Walt’s positive outlook really impressed me. It got me to wondering if I could be a camp host and what it really takes.

Who Can be a Camp Host?

Staring deeply into the orange glow of Walt’s campfire, I began to wonder if I could be a camp host. I work from home which allows me a little more freedom than most people who have more traditional jobs.

Walt explained that the sign I read upon my arrival at the campground was in reference to a weekend camp host only. Weekends are busier than the rest of the week and he hoped to find someone to help him out. According to him, anyone who has a camper and can make the time commitments can be a camp host. Generally, retired people are more able to spend a summer away from home, but over the years he’s seen school teachers, housewives, and self-employed people become camp hosts.

What are the Duties and Benefits of Being a Camp Host?

Each campground has a slightly different job description for camp hosting, but most of them include the same basic duties.

  • Assisting campers with finding a campsite
  • Helping campers learn rules like quiet hours and keeping dogs on leashes
  • Teaching new campers how to make a safe fire or set up a tent
  • Cleaning restrooms and selling firewood during evening hours
  • Collecting camping fees
  • Keeping the park free of trash
None of that sounded too difficult to me, so I listened intently as Walt explained the benefits. I could tell by the passion in his voice that he really takes pride in making the park and its surrounding environment better off than he found it. He quickly listed the benefits of camp hosting.

  • Making friends from all over the world
  • Teaching people, especially children, how to care for and respect nature
  • Free camping in a safe and exciting location
  • Participating in nature programs such as bird and bat population counts, wetland preservation projects, and fish restocking in lakes and streams
  • Sharing his love of camping and outdoor recreation with others
  • Doing his part to keep areas beautiful and natural

It Just Might Be in My Future

After hearing his list of benefits, it’s no wonder I liked this man so much. We value the same things and, like Walt, I think I’d take advantage of the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with others.

About the Author

Karen is a freelance writer and avid outdoorswoman who enjoys working and living in the scenic setting of her home in the Canadian Rockies. If you need an affordable fire pit for camping or Rving you can find it at her website. Karen also loves to travel and takes her camera with her everywhere she goes to capture the beauty of the many campground areas she visits.

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