How to get the Volunteer Camp Host Job You Want

Keys to getting that Camp Host Job you covet

Although we have not had many Camp Host jobs, we have gathered some experience on what makes a good host job. Here’s some ideas to get one of those good positions.  Some desirable positions are competitive!

View from our Columbia River Gorge Host Site

Pick an Area & focus your efforts on it!

Research a geographic location that interests you (hiking? biking? boating? wine? dining? beaches?) and focus your efforts on that region. While you might assume the only host gigs are with municiple parks, there might be opportunities with the Army Corps of Engineers, Government run Fisherie or day use sites (without campgrounds) that need hosts.  And (surprise!) there are host sites almost anywhere you might want to be.  New York City?  Yes.  Outside San Francisco?  Yes!  And of course, out in the woods and the wild.

Don’t overlook lesser known county or city run parks. We had a great host job in a Santa Barbara county park that was not well known outside of California (see separate post) that we really enjoyed. Many host opportunities are available outside of the State and Federal park system.

Call, email, write the Lead Ranger.

Let them know your interest – do not rely solely the submission of a resume or application. Popular parks and host jobs may be competitive. Reach out and talk to the Ranger who is in charge of filling host positions. This personal contact may get you the host position you want – or learn of other oppotunities for volunteers that will get you the park and are you want. Our friends Tom & Vivian wanted to return to Memaloose State park but all host postions were filled. After they spoke to the District manager, they got a volunteer position gathering surveys – and scored a prime site overlooking the Columbia River.

the Perils of Hosting...!
the Perils of Hosting…!


Visit the park.

While not always possible, if you can visit a site, do it! Your park visit will help your decision. A look at the hosts sites and the area will help give you information that will ensure your host job will suit you and you will suit it. While we visit we also try to meet with the park Rangers and schedule these sessions prior to our arrival. If a Ranger (especially the volunteer coordinator) does not want to meet, we calculate that into our park interest.

Provide a resume or curriculum vitae.

A personalized document describing your skills, abilities and interests will help you get placed in the correct host position – and make you stand out from the competition. All of the Rangers liked receiving this document as it allowed them to get to know us. Include a picture of you – with your RV –  many parks & campgrounds want to ensure you have suitable living quarters.

Communicate with your potential “boss.”

Ensure you discuss the position with is the person you will be working for – not the lead Ranger, not another volunteer, but the person who you support. I had a great connection with a lead Ranger – we signed on to work at the park. While she & I really connected, I never saw her. Never. The Ranger who we supported honestly did not care about interpretive hosts (our agreed-to position)— he was more interested in maintenance & campground hosts – and we did not sign on for those duties. We made the best of it – and it worked out in the end – but we would not get into that situation again. Our current Ranger was very interested in meeting with us, took time from his busy schedule to provide a park tour and shared his park vision with us. HIs interest in meeting with us and taking the time encouraged us to work at his park.

Ranger Boss Carlie

A big PS here – we really enjoy supporting Oregon State Parks. Oregon Parks have resources (funding) to do maintenance, hire staff, make improvements – this is unlike many other State parks that have cut back on parks & park programs due to funding problems. Oregon State has a good volunteer application system and dedicated staff to hire volunteers – they also offer their hosts an Interpretive Training class – at no cost to the volunteer.   Don & I attended the CORE training last year. More about that class in a separate post: Oregon Parks & Recreation CORE training.


What have you done to get a great hosting job? 

Hosting Side trips
Man, this hosting stuff is hard work!


2 thoughts on “How to get the Volunteer Camp Host Job You Want

  1. Gail and Don, I enjoyed your article in the NAI region 10 newsletter. I also think your blog is great. Sorry I didn’t get to work with you. Was there something or someone at Bonneville that didn’t appeal to you? I’m retiring in March to do whatever is next! Happy travels! Pat

  2. HI Pat – how nice to hear from you! thanks for your comment about the article & blog. it has been fun writing it and getting comments.
    I’ve been reading columns as inspiration – we had a great summer in Oregon.

    congrats on your pending retirement – what are you planning? wrt your question on Bonneville – the timing just did not work for us. Hosting there would be great & we love your program!

    thanks again for your note. Gail

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