Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
When we bought our Airstream in May 2014 our plan was to take it south in the winter and to do a little camp hosting each summer. The summer of 2014 we spent our time wandering the Pacific NW and talking to camphosts everywhere we went to find out all we could about it.

At the end of the summer, it was clear to us that while we loved Forest Service campgrounds, we didn't want to work for a Forest Service concessionaire doing everything from cleaning the toilets to enforcing rules and collecting fees. The hosts we talked to working at state parks were happy and didn't have to clean bathrooms so we decided that was the ticket.

In the fall of 2014, we applied for hosting positions with both Oregon and Idaho State Parks. By early December we had filled our calendar with assignments for the coming summer.

We started our hosting careers in May 2015, giving lighthouse tours at Heceta Head Lighthouse just north of Florence, OR. In June, we moved to Idaho to host at Buttercup Campground at Lake Cascade State Park. We moved to Sugarloaf Campground at Lake Cascade on July 15th and stayed there until late August when we moved on to Hilgard Junction State Park in Oregon for the month of September. 

One of the things we learned from our first year of hosting was that it was important for us to visit the parks where we would be hosting. So we spent part of October 2015 visiting parks in Oregon and Washington (where we applied but didn't find anything open that we were interested in) and meeting the host coordinators. They, like any other boss, would rather hire someone they have met than a stranger listed on a piece of paper. By meeting the coordinators we managed to put together a set of hosting opportunities for 2016 where we'd visited the parks and met the coordinators.

In 2016, we started the season on May 15th at Huckleberry Campground at Lake Cascade State Park. We spent 2 months there and then had nearly 3 weeks off before heading to Harris Beach State Park in Brookings OR for the month of August. In September, we spent the month at Wallowa Lake State Park near Joseph, OR. And then in October we gave tours of the Historic Hughes House at Cape Blanco State Park on the Oregon coast south of Bandon.

We've found that campers are very curious about camp hosting and ask lots of questions. The first is, what do you get paid? And the answer to that question for state park hosts is, we get our full hook up site for free. In Idaho, you also get an Annual Pass after you put in 100 hours of volunteer time and that pays your Motor Vehicle Entry Fee at all Idaho State Parks for the remainder of the calendar year. In Oregon you also get a state parks pass that covers all of your day use fees.

Every park, in every state asks their hosts to do different things. To answer the perenniel question of what it is that a host does, I've written up a Day in the Life of a host at Lake Cascade since we've spent 5 months volunteering there. Oregon asks much less of their hosts. In most cases, you only put in 4 or 5 hours a day five days a week on a specific task such as site cleaning or selling firewood or giving tours.

I've written reviews of all of our hosting experiences so you can read about particular gigs at particular parks if you're interested. They're listed by year over in the left hand column.

Interested in hosting? Check out opportunities at
Or search Google for camp host in a particular state park system such as Camp Host Oregon State Parks.