Camp Hosts are the front line workers of campgrounds and RV parks. They conduct similar services as hotel staff and others in the hospitality industry. But, the question comes up from time to time if campers should be tipping the Camp Host?
Should You Be Tipping the Camp Host at Campgrounds or RV Parks?
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Camp Hosts are the first campground staff you meet at the gate, the first line of defense should campers report bad experiences or violations and the ones closing the gate each night to keep campers safe.
Since it’s the job of the Camp Host to help make your camping experience a memorable one, is it our job as guests of the campground to tip them if they do a great job?
How is a Camp Host Compensated?
Depending on the campground or RV park, Camp Hosts typically are compensated one of three ways:
- FHU campsite with amenities for working certain number of hours per week.
- Small stipend plus FHU campsite with amenities working a certain number of hours per week.
- Paid hourly worker for a set amount of hours per week. Camp Host pays for their campsite, utilities and amenities separately.
Notice I didn’t say ‘free campsite’? Why is that? Because that campsite is not free. Camp Hosts work that campsite.
At the same token, that doesn’t really make a Camp Host a ‘volunteer’ then. A volunteer is someone who contributes their time, skills and experience to an organization or group for free. Whereas, a Campground Host has to earn their site.
So, let’s go back to the three ways Camp Hosts are compensated. The first arrangement is ideal for the campground owners and the Camp Host who’s willing to agree to that. It seems like a fair and equitable way to not to have to mess with tax forms and income tax reporting, right? This is why senior citizens who are receiving Social Security payments opt for this arrangement. But also, some Campground Hosts who just want something to do who are perfectly happy with just getting a campsite in trade for working the required hours.
The second and third compensation arrangements do require tax reporting; at least on the stipend and hourly wages. However, speaking to many who have or are currently camp hosting, the monetary compensation isn’t much. In fact, most times, money earned equals minimum wage earnings. That’s why not many of the younger generations opt to camp host simply because they require a higher monetary compensation to feed their families.
So, all of this definitely squashes the theory that campground hosts actually get a ‘free’ campsite. They don’t. Again, Campground Hosts work for it.
All of that said, the general consensus amongst camping guests is that campground owners should simply compensate their Camp Hosts better. Then, there wouldn’t even be a reason for me to write this article.
How long is a Camp Host job for?
Our friends Jessica and Robert of Exploring the Local Life wrote in one of their articles, “Hosting positions typically run for 3-6 months. During that time, you (Camp Host) must remain at the campground. You can, of course, explore the area, but you cannot overnight somewhere else. In addition, you must be available on the weekends and at peak times.”
So, unless you’re an active exploring type, camp hosting might be just what you’re looking for if you’re wanting a way to spend a season away from home or to get away from yucky weather.
Is Camp Hosting a Labor of Love?
So, learning about the compensation of camp hosting, this leads many to ask, “why they camp host if the compensation is so menial?”
Talking to Camp Hosts throughout our 8+ years of RVing, most admit they don’t necessarily do it for the money. There are three basic reasons why most Seniors gravitate towards camps hosting positions.
First, some Campground Hosts, especially Seniors, say it’s an easy way of earning a campsite without exchanging money, filling out tax forms or showing income that could potentially mess up their Social Security payments.
Second, a lot of folks who Camp Host or workcamp at a campground or RV park do so for the social aspect and to make friends.
And third, there are others who camp host just to keep active and stay engaged. Camp hosting typically doesn’t involve much exertion, heavy lifting or long hours. But, it does require a person to be friendly, hospitable and a people pleaser, easy to work with, be able to work in an office setting as well as outdoors and complete as needed jobs around the campground.
But if you ask most Camp Hosts, they say it’s mostly a labor of love. Most who camp host really don’t care if they are tipped or not. They don’t do it for the money as it is to them, a true labor of love.
Should you tip your Camp Host
Since camp hosting is essentially working in the hospitality industry, one could compare it to some services in the hotel industry. Some hotel workers work for low wages. However, they rely on tips from individual guests. A good employee deserves a tip if they go the extra mile in providing guests with extra concessions, new towels, a few more bottles of shampoo, cleaning an extra messy room, etc. Well, shouldn’t the same be applied to the Camp Host position?
So, that brings us to the question, “should we also be tipping a Camp Host? I mean, they do clean and prepare your campsite for your arrival. They check campers in, answer requests, make certain the campsites are ready for guests, bathrooms cleaned, etc. Typically, that’s their job.
However, on some occasions, a guest may need a spotter to help park their RV, get firewood or ice delivered, open the propane fill station 5 minutes early, etc. In those cases, why wouldn’t you tip your campground host?
But, there are campers who feel the service Camp Hosts render are figured into the price of the campsite.
All in all, since I’ve actually done the job (oftentimes a thankless job, Campground Hosts really don’t receive fair compensation. But, should that be each camper’s responsibility to fill in those compensation or pay gaps? Would it be pretentious to just slip them a few bucks under the table as a way of saying “thanks for doing your job…anyway?”
Especially for full-time RVers who stay at numerous campgrounds and RV parks, that would get very expensive. If you’ve not noticed already, campground fees are tipping the scales making it cost prohibitive as it is. And, yet camping guests are expected to add on, yet, another expense?
Considering a Camp Host position? Watch this FIRST before agreeing to or signing anything!
Creative ways to show appreciation to camp hosts without tipping monetarily
- Gift them an outdoor potted plant or camping theme garden flag
- Slip them an Amazon gift card to buy camper accessories
- Specialty coffee or teas
- Unbreakable useful coffee mugs or beverage cups
- Fruit or edibles basket
- Gift card or gift certificate for a local car wash, grocery store, fuel station, movie theater, local restaurant, etc.
Final take on tipping a Camp Host
So, as you see, this issue of tipping a Camp Host is really a personal decision that only individuals can make; just like tipping your hotel housekeepers. That said, should you require out-of-the-ordinary tasks such as needing a spotter, ice or firewood delivered to your campsite, having them make a future reservation instead of you having to do it online, it only makes sense to palm your camp host a few bucks to show your appreciation.
But, if you don’t require anything more than just checking in and out, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip your Camp Host. Interestingly though, I learned from one camper who tips regularly, “when I tip them, they (Camp Hosts) seem to remember me whenever I come back.”
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