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A lesson in RV etiquette from a camp host

After a stressful winter, who wouldn’t want to rest, relax and enjoy beautiful Wyoming — all while being paid to work out of an RV?  That was my thought as I accepted a camp host position near Jackson Hole this summer.

It was interesting and informative, being on the other side of the phone and the desk, dealing with RVers looking for a place to stay during the busiest season this area has seen in ages.  Due to heavy advertising by the National Parks Service encouraging people to come out and support the national parks during its centennial anniversary, the RV parks were overwhelmed with requests for RV and tent spots.

May was a relatively easy month, but June landed with a bang and things got crazier in July — as did the RVers.  Knowing what it’s like on the other side, I came up with a list of rules for RVers when they are interacting with camp hosts.

  • When you call an RV park, do not assume that there will be a site for you.  Especially if you are calling in July for a site that night. Assume that there’s nothing available and be happy when you get whatever you can!
  • Don’t start out the reservation conversation with your name and the description of your RV and your needs.  Chances are, you are talking to someone who has no space for you and whose patience is wearing thin as you ramble on.  All you need to ask, initially, is : “Do you have any sites available for tonight?” (Or whichever night you need.)  If the reply is “Yes”, then you can discuss what you need with the camp host.
  • Remember that the camp host is either a volunteer or a lowly-compensated temporary worker.  They do not own the park, did not make the rules, and have no control over anything —  especially the prices.
  • It is not the camp host’s responsibility — or anyone else’s for that matter — to ensure that you have an RV site.  If you don’t make reservations in advance, that is your fault — not the camp host’s. Don’t take your frustrations out on them. This is especially true if you decide to just drop in to an RV park expecting to stay the night.
  • Camp hosts may work in an office and/or work out of their RV.  Respect the camp host’s privacy by not going to their RV and knocking on the door when you need something if you see an OFF DUTY sign.  There are phone numbers provided for after-hours problems.  Call that number.
  • Never, ever enter a camp host’s RV uninvited.  It is NOT an office.
  • Clarify the charges for the RV site BEFORE you arrive at the RV park.  Do not try to get the camp host to give you any kind of a discount and don’t argue with the camp host as to what you were told your charges would be.  Charges are not customized for every individual customer.  Discounts are given based on club memberships, veteran’s discounts, etc.  When you call for the reservation is the time when you should discuss the rates, not after you have arrived and are holding up the process of serving other campers.
  • Not all RV parks have dump stations.  If you are going to be dry camping at an RV park, make sure you inquire as to whether or not the RV park has a dump station.  Do not ask to “scoot into an empty site” and dump your tanks. If the RV park doesn’t offer a dumping station, it is usually because their septic system can’t handle extra dumping.
  • If a camp host tells you that there are not any power sites available, there are not any power sites available.  Camp hosts are there to make money for the RV park.  They are not going to hide a site that they could rent out to you if it was available.
  • Just because sites are empty, that does not mean that they are available. They are reserved for RVers coming into the park later.
  • Do not go driving through the RV park just to look around without checking in with the office.
  • Never go into an RV park and park in an empty space.  It’s not first-come, first-serve.  You must check in with the camp host or the office before occupying a  space.
  • Pay attention to where you are supposed to walk your dog and pick up after your dog.  Imagine having to walk around a park and dodge piles of dog poop while you are trying to do your job of picking up piles of dog poop in the dog area and as well as all over the rest of the park.
  • Pick up your own trash.  Most RV parks do not provide curb-side trash service, so when you leave, take our trash with you or use one of the dumpsters provided by the RV park.
  • If you enjoy your stay at the RV park, please leave a good review on the RV park review websites.  Don’t just write complaints when you’re not happy.  The positive review helps the RV park to grow its business.

As I write this, I have 38 days left before I can hit the road and the lesson I have learned is that I don’t want to ever be a camp host again!  There’s too much fun to be had on the road to sit in one spot for the entire summer with few days off to enjoy yourself.

But, I have definitely learned how to be a better customer of the RV parks I choose to visit!

About Beth Lanier

Beth Lanier has been a nomad -- a committed full-time RVer -- for the past 10 years. Traveling inspired her to spin romantic tales of strong women who travel and her first novel, One Good Man, is now on Kindle. A series of novellas based on single women who RV, Road to Romance, will launch in September. In her spare time, Beth rescues and re-homes dogs, is an avid photographer, singer, kayaker and artist. Always eager to learn something new, her latest project is learning the slide guitar. Beth is a member of RomVets, Romance Writers of America and Escapees. To contact her, visit www.bethlanier.com.

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