This is not my mid-life crisis. Some would say that selling the house, becoming nomads, and living in an RV for the last 4 years fits the definition of that.
David and I have been spending a lovely summer as workampers at the Bar Harbor Woodlands KOA. Just an hour away from Deer Isle and David’s parents and sister, the job allowed us to work for KOA and visit family for the summer.
The location also afforded us quick access to amazing hiking and biking trails in Acadia National Park. It really has been a wonderful experience.
KOA (Kampgrounds of America) owns two campgrounds in Bar Harbor: Oceanside, which has many RV sites and Deluxe Kabins, and Woodlands, which is more for tenters and rustic Kamping Kabins. Both campgrounds are managed by one person, named Barbie. She interviewed and hired us back in January, for a position that runs May to mid-Sept. We didn’t know which campground we would be assigned to, but found out later that she really has a knack for finding the right match of people to job and location.
Here is Barbie walking in the Bar Harbor Independence Day parade:
When we arrived at the end of April, there was still snow on the ground, evidence of the hard Maine winter. The trees were so bare, I really thought they were dead.
Assigned to Woodlands, we moved to our site and started the work of clearing the campground of trees and debris with 3 other couples. The store was dusted, vacuumed and stocked. Kabins (starting with that KOA “K”) and restrooms were scrubbed, and we welcomed our first visitors on May 21.
Each of us has a specific role. There is a lead couple, Kevin and Dodi. I really could not have done this job without them. They both encouraged us to take the reigns and allowed us to work off of our own initiative. That resulted in David planting a garden for everyone to enjoy, and for me to learn the reservation system, store set up, and even opening, manning, and closing the store alone. For someone who has never worked retail, I was surprised by how exhausting it can be. It’s hard work being nice for 8 hours a day!
This is Kevin and Dodi. For those of you who know my side of the family, Kevin reminds me very much of my little brother – neither of them has ever met a stranger. And Dodi is all about just jumping in and getting it done. My first day in, when she found out I had not driven a golf cart before, she jumped out of the driver’s seat and “made” me drive. She defines “Just Do It”.
Tom and Christine had worked at the campground before, and were there to help open it. Christine forced me into answering the phone, and taught me about retail placement. I learned that it was ok to make a mistake, because everything could be fixed. Tom was great at showing David the campground ins and outs. Here is a picture from our opening day:
Bob and Donna are our amazing Housekeeping team. Seriously the unsung heroes of the campground. It’s easy to greet customers, sell firewood, and give directions to island hot spots. It’s darn hard work to keep bathrooms, Kabins, and Deluxe lodges shiny. The last to be praised, the first to be criticized, Housekeeping is a thankless job. Just think how frustrating it must be to clean a bath house of eight shower/toilet/sink rooms for a hour, then watch a group of campers destroy it in 10 minutes. But Bob and Donna keep doing their best to stay ahead of it. On top of that, they are some of the most genuine people you will ever meet.
There are other couples that work with us, too. Tom and Lou, Fred and Margie, Val and Paul, Kate and Allie, Susie and Dave, Donnie and Pat, Larry and Barb…they all have varying degrees of KOA experience, and are doing their best between the two campgrounds, to give the customer the best vacation experience they can. And that is no easy task.
We read the reviews on the KOA website, and are sometimes surprised by the feedback. That is both good and bad, I must admit. But I know that David and I are both richer for the experience that we have had this summer.
Which brings me to where I am now…on a plane…by myself…doing something that I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.
About 2.5 weeks ago, I received a call from Amazon and offered a position in the HR department at the Haslet, Texas fulfillment center. This is a seasonal position, as a member of CamperForce, to launch the CamperForce program in Texas. The opportunity for this to become a permanent position is very real, and the position has never been held by a Camper, in other locations, that I know of. I was humbled by the offer, but the position started immediately, and I was committed to KOA until Sept 18. We had not planned on joining Amazon for our usual CamperForce jobs until late October. So I declined.
And then I told David about the call and my answer. His reply was, “Are you kidding? You would rock that!” *This may not be a direct quote, but you get the idea. So, I called Texas back, and then went to chat with my KOA bosses.
Barbie, Kevin and Dodi were so supportive! Even though I was leaving them during peak for the camping season, they encouraged me that it was OK. David is finishing his commitment, and then helping to close the campground. He will join me in late September (I am hoping to fly back and drive with him to get the rig to Texas).
So here we are today. David is staying in Maine with the RV, the cat, the KOA job, and more time with his family. I am flying on three planes to get to Dallas Love Field, where my 30 day Hotwire rental car awaits. I have a hotel room for 6 days, and must find shelter until my guy and my house on wheels can join me. Orientation is at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, and I will not have much time to learn the job – the first campers are supposed to start in a little over a week.
Wish me luck!