One of the most popular places for RVers to go for the winter months is Florida. Yes, there are great advantages to maybe heading for southern Texas, Arizona or even some of the beach towns in Mexico but Florida is still in the running for the top spot for the months of October to March every single year. Maybe you would like to save some money on your winter RVing and decided to give this workamping thing a try. However, you are finding it very difficult to get any assignments. In this article we will list a couple of things that we have done in the past to get our assignments that might help you out in the future.
First of all it is never too early to try and get your assignments in some areas of Florida and others it’s filled up for years to come so don’t even try. If you are wintering in Florida and paying to stay you might want to carve out some time to visit some of the public land areas such as state parks, federal wildlife refuges, forests, state water and wilderness areas, state forests or even some of the private parks that have volunteer hosts. It would be a chance for you and your partner to introduce yourself to the volunteer coordinator, meet some of the park personnel, look over the accommodations and talk to some of the current volunteers. Putting a face to the names on the applications can help get you a call back when they have an opening in the future.
The second thing you might want to consider that might help you with getting more assignments in the future would be to come and volunteer during the late spring and summer months. Yes, I know it is very warm and buggy here during those months but if you get in with some of the parks with springs or on the beach it would be more enjoyable and give you that much needed reference for winter work in other parks. Getting a recommendation from your current volunteer coordinator is really worth it’s weight in gold sometimes. And make sure you use it as soon as you can as these state park people changes parks all the time.
Speaking of park rangers moving around a lot for our third thing to keep in mind is that our Florida State Park personnel has a tendency to move around a lot and change job titles quite often. The regular park ranger you help with a couple of projects might be your future volunteer coordinator at another park. This is not really the case with most of the Federal places in Florida but you never know. I always keep a file with each of the park’s personnel that I interact with on a regular basis along with their cellphone numbers and email addresses. Should they go to a park you really want to volunteer at in the future they might just put in a good word for you there. You just never know who you meet, talk to and help with projects that might be able to help you with getting more favorable assignments in the future. I even got an assignment by just greeting another park ranger on vacation kayaking down the Suwannee one summer and taking the time to ask him a few questions, making sure he knew where all the facilities were and answering any questions he had. When I applied at his park he remembered me and gave a good recommendation.
Number four has worked a couple of times for us and may even help you out as well. It’s all about socialization. As you camp at different places you might want to start collecting people’s names, emails and ask them if they volunteer workamp in Florida. If they have then they would be an excellent source of information, tidbits and even might even recommend you in the future. Of course, you will want to “Friend” them on Facebook or join a couple of the same RVing groups to help keep in touch. If you ask they might even contact you in the future if they hear about openings in some of the parks you like. Of course, being a little bit flexible in your schedule might also help you get some of these winter assignments.
Finally, the very best thing you can do is to be polite but persistent in sending in applications. Most of these places only need willing and dependable people to show up, be friendly to visitors, get the assigned jobs done as quickly as possible and be honest about your abilities and needs prior to taking any assignments. Of course, being willing to learn new things goes a long way to getting most of these placements. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn some simple maintenance type things such as fixing simple plumping problems, carpentry, changing out electrical outlets, painting, etc. that also would be great skills to offer. Most of these public land areas really need bodies willing to fix stuff.
Till next time.