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Workcamping as a Teenager

My family, which is my mom, my 13-year-old brother, our two dogs, and I have been fulltime traveling in our Class A motorhome for the last three years. We started out from Florida on my 15th birthday in 2019 and we have just celebrated our third Nomadiversary on my 18th birthday. We have traveled about 17,000 miles since we left, that’s almost three quarters of the way around the world.

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Getting Hired As A Teenage Workcamper 

At the beginning of the year, my mom suggested we try workcamping and looked for jobs that would allow me to work as a 17-year-old. She found quite a few jobs that would take both of us, but she decided to go with Clark’s Bears in New Hampshire. She chose Clark’s because it is a small family-run amusement park and she felt it would be a better environment for me since this was my first job.

We didn’t have a hard time finding jobs because my mom knew what to look for and where, but I had a hard time with the interview process. We all had to be interviewed by their HR person over the phone, which was a bit difficult for me because it was my first interview and I didn’t know what kind of questions they would ask. My mom says she tried to prepare me but I don’t remember that. I wasn’t confident they were going to hire me after the interview because I was asked a few questions that I didn’t have an answer for at that moment. And because I also accidentally hung up on the interviewer. I did end up being hired with my mom.

My official job title was Rides and Guides but when we first got there, before the park’s opening day, I joined some of the other preseason workers getting the park ready for opening. The main job I did was painting, and all the prep work for that. I also dug a hole for a new tree and helped teach the J1 workers how to paint, even though I hardly knew how to paint myself. The J1s are people that come to our country and have been approved to participate in work-and study-based cultural exchange programs. I have decided, after that experience, that I do not want to be a painter.

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The Challenges of Workcamping As A Teenager

In my position, as rides and guides, I worked at several different rides in the park helping people onto the rides and making sure they didn’t do anything they weren’t supposed to. Sometimes that required me to push myself outside of my comfort zone when it came to talking to groups of large people letting them know what the rules were and what to do.

The hard part about the job was suddenly going from not needing to do much every day to working 5 days a week, between 37-40 hours a week. It was pretty exhausting at first, especially when I had to wake up at 7 during the preseason so I could be to work by 8 am. It was a bit of a hard transition because I like to sleep in. And because I am homeschooled, I don’t have a set schedule for waking up.

The other sometimes hard part about the job was working with someone that I didn’t like too much. My mom tried to give me tips on how to work around this and I did my best but it was still uncomfortable.

My job required me to be outside most of the day. It was often hot or sometimes it rained for a few hours. We still had to work in those conditions and if you didn’t bring your own raincoat, the ponchos they provided were not the best at keeping us dry. One time my feet were so soaked and pruned from standing in water that I had to go back to the RV to get a change of shoes. Since we live in less than 400 square feet, we don’t have the space for extra shoes so I had to wear my hiking sandals to work. It took 2 days for my sneakers to dry.

The Perks of Workcamping As A Teen

My overall experience with the job was positive. Since I am traveling around in an RV, I don’t often get to meet a lot of people or make friends who are close to my age. So, staying in one place for a longer time and going out and working with so many different people five days a week, definitely helped me meet new people and make new friends.

One of the interesting parts of the job was being able to meet a variety of people with different personalities, beliefs, and religions, to people that came from different countries. Some of the people I worked with came from Mongolia and Uzbekistan. 

The most memorable part of the job was definitely the people I worked with. I was the only workcamping teenager. Most of the other employees I worked with were from the area and had been working with each other for a long time. At first, it took me a week or so to make friends because I was somewhat reserved, but as the weeks went by and I started to talk to them more, we began to get to know each other better.

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It was great to be able to have fun while working at my job and it made the long hours go by much faster. Sometimes we would get up to some mischief at work and occasionally may or may not have broken a few employee rules along the way.  For instance letting each other ride down the water slide in the raft backward, riding in the park strollers, smuggling in a few squirt guns to spray each other with, and definitely not spraying the guests of the park who were breaking the rules by spraying us with the water guns on the bumper boats or playing tags on the Segways.

Working at the park also gave me access to discounts on the park food, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Especially the chicken tenders and vanilla frappes. I may have had those quite a few times a week. I also got free popcorn once a day while working. Sometimes they even gave us free Gatorade on the hotter days.

Some of the other benefits of working at the park were the after-hours events that they hosted from softball games against other parks nearby, to mini-golf, to a talent show, to BBQs. It was nice to be able to hang out with my friends while not having to work. We also got free entry into the park, plus a few guests passes for the park, and we got a passbook that allowed us to visit other nearby attractions for free.

Would I Workcamp Again?

I think if I had the opportunity to workcamp again, I would. According to my mom, it’s not really a whole lot different from working a stationary seasonal job, like over Christmas. The perks of workcamping over the seasonal job are you can go to new places and sometimes they pay for your RV site. We stayed less than a quarter mile down the road from our job at Country Bumpkins Campground. The owners were awesome and made sure we were taken care of, which was really nice of them.

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At the end of my last day working, I was told it was tradition to jump into the bumper boat pond. So I did. I was soaked head to toe and I walked out to meet my mom who was picking me up from work. The first thing she noticed was my glasses were missing. She said, “What happened to your glasses? YOU JUMPED IN THE BUMPER BOAT POND DIDN’T YOU”? Needless to say, she was a little upset. At least I remembered to take off my sneakers.

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Joshua Blake

Joshua Blake (center) is a teenager who has been traveling the US for the past three years with his family. He has been homeschooled since he was 9. He hates doing repairs on the RV and Jeep. 

One Response

  1. Great article, Joshua! Glad to see that you had a good experience with your first workamping job. Jeanne and I want do our first camphosting or workamping position next year, since we’ve been traveling fulltime at a pretty quick pace over the past two years. It helps to read about others’ experiences, so thank you for sharing yours! Happy travels to you and your family!

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