Don’t be an Ugly Workamper!

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My friend Steve Anderson over at Workamper News says that there is a shift going on in the workamper world.  There is a changing paradigm among the newer crop of workampers entering the lifestyle.  And unfortunately, from what some employers are saying, they are not happy about it!



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What is a Workamper?


According to Arline Chandler of Road Work: the Ultimate RVing Adventure, she likes to call workampers adventurous individuals or couples who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines all kinds of full or part-time work with RV camping.


Now, this does not have to be working specifically at a campground, but a lot of these jobs do involve that kind of work.  What some of these campground owners are saying is that the Boomer population that is applying for these workamper jobs are just not what they used to be!


What is a Paradigm Shift?


A paradigm shift is a radical change in underlying beliefs.  For example, putting skilled teachers in failing schools would cause a paradigm shift in teaching and education.


It can also be an acceptance by the majority of a belief that has changed. Perhaps also an attitude or a way of doing things.


The old paradigm was “I am workamping because I love the lifestyle, l love helping people, and I want to do everything I can so other people can have a great experience at my employers’ place of business!”


This is where the workamper paradigm shift comes in.  Lately, it seems a lot of people coming into the lifestyle, those that just want a “free RV site,” have the attitude that workamping is going to be a lot of work but they will endure it anyway!

ugly workamper

Don’t Be The Ugly Workamper!


Have you heard the phrase, the good, the bad, and the ugly?  Well, we have too many ugly workampers out there these days.  I have worked with them! They are the kind of people that can make lemons appear sweet!  You could say it’s a beautiful sunny day, and they will turn it around and say, “yea, just what I need is more sun!”


You know the kind of folks I am referring to.  Unfortunately, they are everywhere!  Some are so bad they have what can be referred to as optical rectitus.  Okay, what the heck is that?


Okay, not my normal writing style, perhaps a little crass, but it gets the point across.  This is the ugly workamper that we don’t want joining the lifestyle.  They give workampers a bad name!


From the minute they show up at a new job, they complain about their RV site, their new boss, the people they work with, the guests or customers, and they infect everyone that they work with.  It is easier for the ugly workamper to shift other workamper’s paradigms then for them to hold fast to a better one.


I have worked with many like this!  They had a severe case of optical rectitus!  Fortunately, they did not last long. Their poor attitude toward work and co-workers pretty much always cooked their goose!  They usually wound up being asked to leave.  But, this left the employer with an employee shortage.  So they had to scramble to fill positions in a usually busy time of year.


That is where the ugly workamper really ruins the lifestyle for others. Because the employers are asking themselves, “why do we want to hire these folks when we can just hire local employees and not have to deal with this!”


You can still have this problem with regular employees too!   This just means that workampers are going to be losing out on these great jobs that exist in great places if we are not better than the average employee choices out there!


Most workampers are coming from great distances to a new job.  The employers have to take the word of their resume as to their work experience and job performance.  But, if employers hire locally they have a better chance to screen potential employees.


So What Am I Saying?


If you are new to workamping or are an experienced workamper, be sure you are bringing value to your employer! Have a great attitude every day, get along with everyone as best you can, check your attitude at the door, work as a team, and just have fun!


Be the best workamper employee you can be!  Fulfill every aspect of your workamper contract!  When you leave be sure you get a reference so you can use that to secure your next job.  Let’s be sure the ugly workamper does not have a chance to get the job that you would be so much better at! They usually don’t come with references!


Workamping is the best lifestyle there is!!  We get to move our home on wheels to wherever we want to work.  We can stay a long time or we can move around a lot.  We meet people from all over the world!  We get to share in other people’s lives and develop friendships that will last a lifetime.


Go out there and be a good workamper.  Why not even be a great workamper!  I look forward to hearing your stories as you enjoy the lifestyle.  Leave a brief story below about your workamper experience!



Howard and Pam


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    • That's Just Travel on June 24, 2020 at 6:40 PM
    • Reply

    Absolutely! I try to be the most helpful and cheerful. It does bring it down when those types come into the mix. We have one leaving on Friday who has just been pure toxicity. Just today she got upset and stormed out without telling anymore when she had two hours left on her shift. This is probably about the 10th time just since December that she has done that. Fingers crossed the next person will be a better fit.

      • Roger Tetrault on August 21, 2023 at 7:49 PM
      • Reply

      You certainly zoomed straight to an unfortunate truth. People see us riding around in golf carts waving and smiling at customers and think “anybody can do that.” What they don’t see is when we’re up to our armpits in raw sewage fixing a broken pipe. They don’t see us handling a difficult and sometimes violent customer. They don’t see us when we get called out of bed at 3am to fix an electrical problem for a customer who forgot to turn on the circuit breaker. The measure of a good workamper is the one that endures the difficult times with a smile and a happy attitude.
      We have been doing it for 8 years and have already booked our ninth year. We love the travel and the excitement of discovering a new town and making new friends. The work is the means to be able to do those things.
      I have to admit I get frustrated when I see wannabe workers trying for jobs while they live in a van or a tent. We studied and planned for fifteen years, drive an $85k truck towing a $110k fifth wheel. We made a tremendous investment for the privilege of doing this work. Yet our competition for the jobs are a couple 20-somethings that buy some camping gear at Walmart and believe they stack up. They don’t.

    • Jay Long on October 24, 2018 at 4:06 PM
    • Reply

    Hi Howard!
    I am grateful and understand the meaning of the ugly workamper. I usually instigate the thought of loving what you do whenever approached by someone who is interested in a career and looking only at the the benefits ($). “Life is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death.” Yes, Auntie Mame was an uplifting,old and precocious movie. But one has to love the positivity she exudes no matter the consequences she ultimately endures.
    I’m a hair stylist and a master of none. The one talent i have most is the striving to keep my clients happy with their looks, aka their own ego! I am realizing people, as a whole, are becoming more entitled with their so called needs. The younger generations are essentially born into this and it is becoming sadder by the day. The opposition is the naturally effective parenting habits which are rare and extremely noticeable. I trust the older generations, being on the border myself, and usually find myself reliant on their input. These persons tend to understand the true meaning of needs and its difference of wants. Real people endured the great depression. I grew up in the rural areas of Texas and my grandparents all lived through the depression era. I listened and I understand the differences of opinion between the generations and why they exist.
    My question for you is: Is this a lifestyle for someone who has handy man abilities and only limited experience in the field? If you were hiring, what would you expect a person with my general outlook to perform every day in a typical workamper job?
    Jay Long
    P.S. I don’t mind direct criticism or a plethora of exclamation marks!!! hehe!!!!!!!!! We’re not publishing for a noble prize here!!!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by our website Jay and sharing!

      In regards to your question, handyman abilities are always in demand in RV parks. To what degree your skills would adapt to a workamper employers needs depends on what your skills are. You would have to apply for a job you think you could perform and have a discussion with the RV park owner to see if your skills would be an asset to them.

      There are many workamper jobs out there. A membership to Workmaper News ( – use code AMB206) will give you a wide sampling of work camper opportunities. There are so many types of jobs Jay that I think referring to this source will be the best way to answer your question about the typical work camper job that is available.

    • Don LaBreck on August 23, 2018 at 9:41 AM
    • Reply

    Let’s talk about ugly workamping employers for a moment, shall we? Many treat their workampers like second class citizens, bullying and oh yeah, let’s change the term and add tasks to their jobs after they’re here! Additionally, how do they continue to get away with paying fractions of what it would cost them for skilled labor?? I see workamping ads all the time looking for skilled labor like plumbers or electricians and require 20+ hrs per week in exchange for a FHU site. Most of the time, this ends up being an hourly rate of pay of minimum wage or less if you do the math! Work that would cost the employer 2-3x more if they had to outsource it however they are literally getting it done for peanuts and treating people like crap! Yeah it goes both ways folks but stay diligent, there are still some decent workamping employers out there, they’re just getting harder to find.

    1. Well, that is one perspective, Don!

      Work camping is a two-way street. Work campers need to be willing to do what the employers ask and be happy with the pay that is offered. If the job does not sound like a good deal, then yes, move on. Eventually, the campground owners will realize you can’t expect an experienced electrician to work for minimum wage unless they are happy doing that. I have done electrical work for campgrounds, made a decent wage and got paid a bonus when the work was done.

      I have work camped in others where I was told I was going to be doing light electrical work on park pedestals and new cabin installs and wound up having to dig ditches in ninety-degree heat, all day long. They did not live up to their end of the bargain for what I signed up for, but I was a good work camper, brought up the issue, talked to the owner, and we agreed that my services there would no longer be provided because I was not doing the work I was contracted for at the pay I agreed to.

      It’s a two-way street. Either the employer or the work camper can terminate the agreement at any time. That’s the beauty of the system, but be sure to have the terms of the job in writing before accepting that work camper position.

      Also, if you have a problem with a particular location that you have worked at, and you are part of the Workamper News system, you can go there and talk about your experiences with that particular employer so others will know how they were to work for. You can say good things or bad things.

      In our ten years on the road, we have only accepted positions through the Workamper News system as we have been members with them from the beginning.

      So, if you have these good and bad experiences be sure to get those out there via whatever source you can so others will know. But before you post a negative experience about a campground, be sure it was not a personality issue, or that you were unwilling to do something you signed on to do, but did not read the work camper fine print. Pam and I have had great work camper experiences in many different locations, but others did not. From what we observed it was not the parks fault, but a work camper’s severe case of “stinking thinking!”

      Happy travels!!

      • Angela Rainer on June 20, 2020 at 1:55 PM
      • Reply

      Thank you for that! Is there a site to let employers know about the “ugly” ones?

      1. Hi Angela!

        Unfortunately, I am not aware of a place that employers can express opinions about their work campers. According to labor laws, I am sure that would be illegal anyway.

    • Jane Smith on November 23, 2016 at 4:19 PM
    • Reply

    I really like your website, but holy crap, you use way too many exclamation points! Honestly, it hurts the eyes! to! see! practically! every! sentence! ending! this way! (my subtle way of getting the point across)

    Having been an “ugly” poster, I do want to say that your website is a real boon for those of us looking into the lifestyle.

    1. Hi, Jane!

      LOL! Yes, I love the ! and have been accused of over usage. But, you know what? It is my website and I can say whatever I like. LOL!

    • Seasoned Workamper on November 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM
    • Reply

    Amen. I don’t know if you’d call them ugly Workampers, but have worked with many who accept several jobs until a better one comes along. No wonder many campgrounds are just hiring from the community.

    1. Thanks for checking in “Seasoned Workamper!” Yes, we need our fellow workampers to live up to their contracts! When they say are going to stay till a certain date, they need to honor that commitment unless it is because of a true emergency.

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