Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Jobs -- Sort Of

Well, not really. Our month here in Valencia is ending next Tuesday and we have been making plans to move somewhere cheaper and cooler. Our thoughts were to move up to a city campground near Lompoc where the cost is low and most days are in the 70's. Last week we decided to go to the beach and drove down toward San Clemente in southern Orange County near where we used to live. While there we looked around for campgrounds near the beach as we usually do in case we may want to stay in the area sometime in the future.

We visited San Onofre State Beach which is on the bluff south of the nuclear power plant. As we drove through we noticed the campground host spots were filled, but otherwise there were a lot of open spaces. The main reason is that there are no hookups of any kind, except for the campground hosts. On a whim, I stopped at the gate and asked about the campground host positions and if there were any openings. The ranger gave me a phone number to call.  I did and the ranger I spoke with said there was an immediate opening and asked me to send in an application if we were interested. He called two days later and said we can start on the 1st.

Camp hosting or volunteer work is one of the things we have planned on doing to help keep our camping costs low and to provide us with a place to stay where we would otherwise not have hookups. Many state, city, county and federal campgrounds, wildlife preserves and other kinds of facilities use volunteers in exchange for providing a campground site. It works well for everyone involved. Usually they require 30 to 40 hours of "work" per week in exchange for the site, but they are usually very flexible. We will be doing camp checks and answering questions for campers. We may also do some light maintenance and litter cleanup. We will not be cleaning restrooms!

Getting your first volunteer job is the most difficult because you have no references and past experience to point to. The best spots are scheduled months in advance so we figured we needed to get some experience under our belt regardless of the circumstances. And there are circumstances. San Onofre is on the bluff overlooking the ocean with Interstate 5 and the Amtrak line on the other side. The campground is built where the old highway 101 used to be and is approximately 3 miles long and only as wide as the old highway. On Interstate 5 in front of the campground is the imigration service border inspection station and a truck scale. Camp Pendleton is immediately to the south of the campground so you hear Marine helicopters all hours of the day and night.

So you can see, it will not be the most idyllic place to spend a few weeks, but it will give us a reference and make the next volunteer job easier to get. Our trailer is very well insulated and the noise from the surf helps drown out some of the noise. We will see how it goes. One nice thing about doing volunteer work is that you can walk away if things don't work out. After all, a lot of people pay $25 per night to camp there without hookups (the park is full on summer weekends) and they manage quite nicely with much less than we have.


  1. Sounds like a great opportunity you have "stumbled" on. Of course it wasn't really a stumble since you were hoping to do something like this, but you were in the right place at the right time.

    Looks like your retirement plans are right on schedule!

  2. Sounds like a piece of cake compared to "real" work! I'd do it any day.