Sunday, October 24, 2010

RV Park Living

Activities here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL are increasing quickly. Over the past week more people have arrived to spend the winter months. By the first of next month all but two spaces will be occupied by long-term residents. After the relatively quiet summer months, it is good to see so many new people and enjoy the lively evening conversations around the campfire ring. It is a credit to the owners of Kelly's that the majority of people who spent the winter months in the park have been returning for years.

The increase in people has also brought an increase of activities. This past week we enjoyed both a pot-luck meal on Wednesday and a breakfast in the clubhouse on Saturday morning. By next month there will be pot-luck meals every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning breakfasts three weeks of every month. In addition, there will be weekly crafts and beading classes, bingo games, card games, shopping trips and almost nightly gatherings around the campfire ring. The is absolutely no reason for anyone to be bored around this place.

One of the reasons Deb & I decided to make 2010 our Year Of Doing Nothing was to gain a better understanding of full-time RV Park living. We enjoyed our extensive travels in 2009 and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about full-time RV living when you are constantly on the move. For some people, being on the move constantly is what they prefer. Otherwise they get what is known as the "hitch-itch" if they are in one place for more than two weeks. That's understandable because the full-time RV life is no different than any other lifestyle. Some prefer to be constantly on the move while others are content to spend years in one place. Either way, it's a good life filled with some of the friendliest, laid-back and helpful people you will meet anywhere.

The biggest difference we have found between being on the move constantly and staying in one place for an extended period of months is the chance to really get to know people more deeply and to obtain a better feeling for the areas in which we stay. Over the past five months we have become a of very real part of this small community in ways we never expected. As I've noted in past postings, Kelly's is that kind of place and one of the reasons we feel in love with this RV park and the White Springs area. It's good to be a part of a genuine community and learn so much about an extended stay in an RV park. We don't plan to be here forever, but for now it's providing us with many blessings.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Work Camping

White Springs FL Suwannee03Image via Wikipedia

It's been another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. The weather has been beautiful and cool enough during the nights for people to sit around the campfire ring. Many people have begun to arrive for stays over the winter months and the campfire ring has become a regular gathering spot during the early evenings. It is very close to where we are parked, so we are spending a lot time around the fires meeting new people and enjoying the aromas of wood smoke in the crisp evening air.

Both Deb & I have been busy with work. Over the past month we have moved into work camping positions here at Kelly's. I've assisted the staff with instillation of the new WiFi system and Deb has begun helping out with general cleaning of the public buildings around the park on the weekends. Now that the WiFi system is working the way it should, I'll be moving on to assist the owners with updating their web page. Aside from her regular duties, Deb will also be picking up some extra work once the park is full next month helping people who want their RV's cleaned on a regular basis. As if that isn't enough to keep us busy, I have also been able to gain some work helping people with computer problems. It's good to be so busy and involved here.

As with most work camping positions, the owners have been very generous by compensating us for our time through discounts on our site fees and other small payments. We did not come here looking for a work camping position, but the opportunities have arisen. We feel blessed to be able to enjoy this opportunity in a place we love.

If you do a general web search about full-time RV living, one of the biggest topic areas that will emerge will be information about work camping. It is highly touted as a way to make the full-time RV lifestyle affordable. Most of the sites that arise are just links to other sites that offer work camping positions; especially Federal and State parks. The majority of the information makes it appear that there are thousands of work camping positions available across the nation and that all one needs to do is be willing to offer twenty hours or more per week in general work to receive a free site and utilities. Since beginning our journey, we have research and applied for several work camping positions because it is a good way to make RV living more affordable and enjoyable. In doing so we have also learned that the realities of obtaining a work camping position are much different than the general information presented in most web sites on the topic.

The first reality learned was that while there are many open work camping positions available, most are in very remote areas like BLM Federal lands in the western States where no one else is willing to stay. Positions in popular parks during peak seasons are filled years in advance, usually by the same people. For example, here in Florida there is a three year waiting list for work camping positions during the winter months. There were a few positions we came across that offered no utility hook-ups because the park was so far off the grid and the closest shopping area was over 200 miles away.

The second reality learned was that the application process is very slow and laborious. In most cases, you are dealing with governmental agencies who treat applications for work camping positions the same they would any other job position. A lot of the information on web sites make it  appear that all on needs to do is pull an RV into a park and be willing to work a few hours a wee  to qualify. That's just not the case. All work camping applicants go through the same vetting process as other employees including background and reference checks, interviews and verification of past employment. As is usually the case with most governmental agencies, this process can take months with very little contact about the status of the application as it is cleared through all the necessary channels. As with most jobs, it is also true that the people with the most background experience related to the job are ones most qualified for the position. Deb and I were contacted by several different parks after submitting our applications based solely upon the fact that we managed a resort for three years and because I worked for a country park for ten years.

Last November we were offered a work camping position in the middle of nowhere Southwest Georgia. It was in a remote natural area that was in transition from being a State park to a State nature preserve. No camping was allowed on the site and we would have been the only people staying there to provide security and general cleaning. The position did include a free site with utilities, but was in a very remote area with the nearest shopping area almost an hour away. The total time between the submission of our application to the time we were offered the position was over three months. During that time we were interviewed over the phone by two different people, our background and references were checked, numerous e-mails were exchanged and it was not uncommon to have weeks pass with no feedback on the status of when a final decision would be made. On the very day we left Tennessee to head to Greenville, SC to help out my parents, we received a phone message saying that we obtained the position and they would like us there is two days. Given the cold conditions even in Georgia last winter, it worked out for the best that we could not accept the offer. But if for no other reason, the process taught us a great deal about what it really takes to obtain a work camping position.

As happened to us here at Kelly's, one of the best ways to find work in a full-time RV lifestyle is to stay at a place for an extended period and get to know people. It pays off in the long-run.

Until next time, Happy Trails everyone!

Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
Photo by Deb
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Work and a Coffee House

It has been too long since my last post because we have had another busy week here at Kelly's RV Park in White Springs, FL. In addition to completing a large amount of article assignments, I've also been helping the owners with getting the final bugs out of the new WiFi system. As I stated in the last post, getting a WiFi system to operate properly in a large RV park is no easy task. In the meantime, Deb has stayed busy with keeping up with Quincy and making trips with other residents here into Lake City to stock-up on supplies.
Thankfully, the weather has cooled down nicely over the past week. Days have been clear and warm with temps. in the low eighties and nights are dipping into the low fifties. After the brutally hot and humid summer we just experienced, it's nice to be able to enjoy sitting outside and sleeping with the windows open.
The pictures above were taken during our trip last Saturday night to the open-mic coffee house at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. The park hosts these coffee houses the first Saturday of every month except the months of April and December. In April the park is filled to capacity with an antique tractor show and in December it hosts a Festival of Lights. It's was a nice feeling to return to the park. It was our first stay on this journey and the return brought back many good memories.
We usually spend our Saturday nights listening to A Prairie Home Companion while enjoying a good meal, but it was nice to substitute that for a trip to the coffee house. During the evening we were entertained by eight performers who provided acoustic sets of music that included folk, bluegrass, gospel and one fiddle player who played a strange style of songs that nobody seemed to understand or appreciate. Overall, the amateur performers were very talented and seemed completely at ease with the audience. It was a nice way to spend the evening. If you ever have the chance to attend one of the coffee houses at Stephen Foster State Park, we highly recommend them. They are free, including the park entry fee, and you can purchase coffee, tea and baked goods all provided for just a dollar each.
It's looks like another busy week ahead, so until next time Happy Trails everyone.
Copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
Photos by Deb & Lane
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