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Would Looking For A Paid Position Be Easier Than Volunteering?

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We, myself, my husband and our adult son with DS who is 30 years old had decided to try to volunteer for a campsite and move slowly around the US. It just seems that either because of our dynamics, and truly we are trying to find a placement for our son, or for some other reason, it seems either the positions listed are already filled and they keep them posted over months on end (think, volunteer.gov) or we just aren't in the loop for some reason. I have seen some of the listings there for 8 months or more, surely someone was interested. It is supposed to be "THE" resource for volunteer jobs. Our state has basically nothing to offer in the parks themselves and prefer only 2 adults which I guess may be the preference for all of them.

 

I am thinking it would be better to go with a paid position as it seems like they actually have openings to fill and are anxious to get people in the positions per what I have been reading lately. Since we retired early at 62, with a range of abilities, I feel that a job application would go further than the interest forms filled out at volunteer.gov.

 

Does anyone have an opinion on this? I am going to start looking at paying jobs this week on the internet and see where that might go.

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I am single so not sure my experience will directly translate for you. Many of the paid positions also expect you to pay for your site. Yellowstone is 150-300 a month for your site and minimum wage. The couples positions as a volunteer often have you both working the same hours so your son would be home alone. But there are always a variety of situations that could work . I find positions want couples with one doing outside work and one office work. Medora ND has many opportunities you might want to check out.

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I would suggest not to be more than a couple and call parks out right. Each park we have been too has Host Coordinators. I can think of two parks right off that would be possible for separate shifts. Goose Island State Park TX and Hueco Tanks State Park TX. Also have some other names and numbers if your interested in GA. or MN. You can contact me personally if you have some interest in my suggestions. I think once you get a gig or two under your belt you will be off and running.

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Like George, we contact the State/National parks themselves, calling the Volunteer Coordinator directly. As a hint, Texas State Parks are under a hiring freeze right now and many are looking for volunteers to fill the gap. In Texas you more than likely will have to clean restrooms as part of your duty.

 

We work about six months out, trying to aim for positions in areas we are interested in visiting. We have worked in a great many parks across the US and have greatly enjoyed our experiences. We have Volunteered for 13 years, both State and National parks and church camps.

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Usually state parks (which is where I do most of my workamping) require so many hours from you for your site. In Texas State Parks they require 25 hours. Virginia is crazy, requiring 30 hours. Tennessee requires 20. I travel solo, so I work all the hours. Couples can split the hours between them or one person of the couple can work all the hours, so there is some flexibility there.

 

Mike and Claudia are spot-on about TX state parks looking for more volunteers due to a hiring freeze. In addition to calling the volunteer coordinators directly, it is also very helpful if you visit a park in person when making your workamping inquiry. I have stumbled into work that way simply because there was an unexpected opening at the time I was there. This way you can also check out the feel and suitability of a park for your own needs.

 

Once you settle into a situation, I am sure your son will become a welcome part of the park community, especially if it is a smaller park. Also, as others have noted, getting jobs will become easier once you start gathering experience and references.

 

Good luck!

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If it were me, I'd start my volunteer searches by looking to state park, campground host positions as most of those are not very specific in duties that have to be carried out at some specific time and way. In our years of doing the RV volunteer thing, we have now completed 33 tours as resident RV volunteers and of those, only one was found via volunteer.gov, although it is true that federal agencies have gone to using it more and some no longer have their own volunteer pages on the internet, but I think pretty much all states still have their own, even if they also list on volunteer.gov. Kansas does have a state parks volunteer site which is currently active and they have 4 parks listed at this time. I always make direct contact with the park manager of volunteer coordinator before I make application, but it is now quite late for applications in these positions for 2017 as most parks start to fill their volunteer positions soon after the first of the year and try to be finished by early spring. We did our second volunteer position in Cheney State Park, west of Wichita.

 

When we were doing our volunteer thing, I always began making contacts for the next year in Oct. or Nov. in order to establish communications early, but still allow ample time for an application to go through that organization's system. With your son along you probably won't be readily selected for many types of position but the campground host position should work out very well. Most volunteer coordinators will be reluctant to supervise any disabled person but in a host position, that could be done by yourself and yet involve him in what you are doing. Campground hosts are mostly there to keep an eye on things and welcome visitors and in most cases have only limited duties beyond that. With supervision, I am sure that your son could be involved in things like cleaning and litter collection, which is a part of may host positions.

 

It would be my guess that some parks are reluctant to decline a family like yours due to the legal issues that a disabled child create but that they typically find some other reason to not choose you. I'd suspect that the same will prove true of most paid campground work, but hosting in a public park looks to me like a good fit and one that could be worked, if you make contact with the park staff yourself well ahead of the time deadline for applications. We found personal contact to be very helpful in getting the positions that we wished to have. Another thing that we did, which I believe would help you is to visit the park staff when you are staying in the park as a customer and speak to them about volunteer positions in their park, before you make any application. By doing so you can have a personal communication going on and the park can assess what/who they will get before they commit. Doing this will remove some of the concerns for the park about your family situation. They can see for themselves, rather than wonder if you are being completely honest about your son.

Edited by Kirk

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Thanks everyone for the advice!

 

We got a late start this year, house didn't sell until November and Social Security messed up our paperwork and suspended our checks before they got started.

 

I suspect many of the positions are filled by the same people year after year. We have watched for opening for some time in the past, and preferred parks rarely had openings.

 

I guess we'll keep looking. We have the finances to not have to volunteer for a site, but that was a big part of deciding to full-time RV in the first place.

 

It isn't the child with disabilities that actually causes the issues in the parent's lives, but the people that the parent's have to deal with in respect to their child with disabilities.

 

We'll work it out. Thanks again.

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There are many paid campground jobs out there, but beware the experience is quite different than a volunteer assignment. For a paid job you typically have to work more, also certain hours and you really can't turn down assignments (all for $8/hr). Whereas volunteer, you can usually pick and choose your projects and not get fired if you take a mid afternoon nap. If you want a premium volunteer location, than preplanning even up to a year is needed. For off the beaten path and less popular campgrounds, you are more likely to be able to get a last minute assignment. Just search for any remote state parks in your chosen state and then call them or even stop by.

In our 4 1/2 years full timing, we have volunteered in 15 states/gigs for a month or longer.

Greg

Edited by gjhunter01

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Like others have suggested, I would try the State parks first. We had immediate success (in Texas) and a lot less red tape when we called the parks directly and talked with the person responsible for scheduling volunteers directly. They were very flexible in the hours we worked, just so we got the daily jobs completed. Good luck in your search!

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We plan very much like Kirk.

To address the volunteer.gov site, because many are ongoing volunteer opportunities, the posting agencies leave their posts up. It's a good place to get a feel for what's available.

May I suggest you go directly to an agencies web site ( such as www.fws.gov for US Fish & Wildlife ), drill down to an area of the country you'd like to be in and then call or email several of the specific units in that area asking about their program.

Most agencies which are located in desirable seasonal areas fill far in advance but by asking to be kept on their backup line st you could get a last minute call to come. People do cancel at the last minute.

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Thanks for lots of good ideas! Moving out of the house, putting some things in storage that had to be sorted, finding a different TT, looking at programs for our son, etc. has kept me too busy to think too far ahead, so I truly appreciate all suggestions. We still have to deal with the domicile issue in combination with everything else.

 

I need to organize a plan of action using the suggestions given.

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It isn't the child with disabilities that actually causes the issues in the parent's lives, but the people that the parent's have to deal with in respect to their child with disabilities.

I had assumed that to be the case. Most DS children are pretty capable but volunteer coordinators are always concerned if they do not know the people applying because many who apply are not completely honest in such situations and the agencies tend to fear possible liability issues or other problems, often imaginary. My blind daughter-in-law runs into the same sort of prejudices on a frequent basis. Many employers and volunteer coordinators fear the disabled person because of the laws that protect them which are sometimes abused. For that reason I would encourage you to visit the parks that you particularly want to get into and get to know the volunteer coordinator. In doing that you will no longer be an unknown and thus a much smaller risk for them.

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Some type parks in some locations tend to need many more volunteers than other sites. For example Cedar Hill SP near Dallas. This park is large, on a lake with a marina near everything. It can be very busy on weekends and holidays for a lot of the year. Because of this they use a lot of volunteers involved in checking in campers and sell State park passes. These places may be good spots to try just by nature of the high need for volunteers. Just a thought. I volunteered at  this park 7 winters and could have volunteered year round there if I had wanted. I am certain there are other locations like this around the country. Keep in mind that a lot of volunteer work involves weekends and holidays and often Friday and Sat. evenings sometimes up to 10pm.

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