An RVers Guide To Work Camping in Ontario
If the full-time RV lifestyle has been calling to you, or you’re just looking to spend more time in some of Ontario’s best campgrounds, you might want to consider work camping!
So...What is Work Camping?
Work camping, sometimes referred to as workamping, is like a win-win situation for campground operators, and campers who want to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors!
Because many campgrounds need seasonal help with the day-to-day operation of the park—tasks like maintenance of grounds and facilities, and administrative duties like checking campers in—many of them open up these positions to folks who would like to stay on site for an extended period of time, often retirees and other folks living a full-time RV lifestyle.
In addition to earning a wage, and/or subsidized site, which may include perks like utilities, laundry, and discounts at a park store, these positions can also be a good way for folks stationed in one park for longer stretches to get to know other campers and build a sense of community.
How Does Work Camping…Work?
DJ Yale knows the benefits of work camping firsthand, both as a camper and an employer. She has taken work camping contracts extensively across the United States, and also hires work campers as a manager at White Lake Lodge, located halfway between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay in Ontario.
“This year for the Lodge, I’m looking for somebody that will give me 20 hours of work for their site, and then they can work [an additional] 20 hours a week for minimum wage pay,” she says, which is a pretty standard work camping agreement.
Work camping clearly isn’t going to replace a full-time salary, but Yale explains, “It's not why you're doing it to begin with. It's just a matter of fulfilling that lifestyle if you love to travel.”
The concept is more common in the States, particularly with retirees, and here in Canada, Yale has had a challenging time finding the right work campers for the lodge. “Honestly the truth of the matter is, it's hard to get help, because we are very remote. We're three and a half hours from Sault Ste. Marie and four hours from Thunder Bay.”
For the right person, couple, or family though, it can be an excellent arrangement. “We've made friends from all over the world. We have some friends that are from England that we met work camping,” Yale says, “It's not for everybody. But mostly it's a good way to live.”
What Types of Jobs are Available?
Most campgrounds are looking to employ an individual or couple for the full length of their operating season – so typically from at least Victoria Day to Labour Day, with many roles extending up to six months.
Folks who are living a full-time RV lifestyle and looking for winter jobs at sites, may have success in Western Canada, or in the States.
The postings range from casual to full-time, and are typically for roles like:
Maintenance (both outdoor grounds maintenance, and indoor facility maintenance)
Administrative and client-facing duties, like checking campers into the park, working in the park store, etc.
Some posts are specifically looking to hire a couple who can split the duties, but there are also roles for solo travellers. “You really have to negotiate what you want, depending on where you are,” Yale says, as most employers will be flexible for the right person(s).
Where Can I Find Work Camping Jobs in Ontario?
In Ontario, campground jobs typically get posted around February-March.
Jesseca Perry and her husband Charles lined up work camping positions while travelling across Canada in their RV last year. “We usually email or call campgrounds we’re interested in working at and ask if they have a work camp program,” she says.
Here are 5 Places to Look for Work Camping and Similar Gigs.
1. Ontario Parks doesn’t have a work camping program, but they do offer many seasonal work opportunities (including for students) that range from Gate Attendant to Interior Rangers (maintaining backcountry trails and sites). The maximum stay at an Ontario Park is 23 nights – with popular parks restricted to seven-and-14-night stays during busy season. For some job opportunities at select parks, however, accommodations may be available to seasonal employees.
2. KOA Campgrounds has a “Work Kamper” program, for roles like Ground Maintenance and Housekeeping, with some postings geared specifically to work teams or couples. If you plan on RVing in the States in the Winter, this is a great resource for openings, and there are several KOA campgrounds in Ontario cities like Parry Sound, Sturgeon Falls and Owen Sound. To access and apply for postings, you must create a free online account, where you can upload your resume and references, and access training videos.
3. Happy Vagabonds is a site dedicated to RV camping, with a job board featuring US and Canadian work camping openings, primarily at independently-owned RV campgrounds. You can register for their free Work Camper Jobs newsletter to receive notifications of new postings.
4. An Indeed search for “Campground” brings up a variety of positions, although not all are specifically work camping positions.
5. Parks Canada has a variety of seasonal and student jobs available. These openings can be viewed and applied for on the Government of Canada job board. Because they’re with the government, some have higher pay and are in specific areas of expertise. While these are not work camping positions, staff housing may be available for some positions.