We first pulled in to Moonshine Creek Campground in Western North Carolina in May of 2019. It was then we began our workamping careers. The past 5 months have been exciting, educational, fun, fulfilling and just the beginning of our new workamping lifestyle. The camping season at Moonshine Creek is quickly coming to an end so this blog post will recap and answer some questions about our first workamping job.
What did we do here? Well, we didn’t make moonshine contrary to rumors you may have heard. They do keep a jar of the real stuff in the office – unopened and sealed – just in case of emergency. What we do is basic customer service. Keep the campers happy, that’s our goal. We were one of four workamping couples this season and there was also a single workamper here who filled in and cleaned cabins. The guys make sure the campground and bathrooms are clean and everyone gets parked, set up and settled in with their cable working and any firewood they may need delivered to their site. The ladies take reservations, cancellations, check campers in, run the register and do some laundry and cleaning around the store. We work 12 hours each week and couples are always together on the same shifts. When we aren’t working, we are doing normal daily-life stuff like going to Dr. appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, RV maintenance, etc… with plenty of time left for exploring, hiking and enjoying this beautiful area.
Mark is one of the workampers daring enough to jump up and down in the dumpster (he puts a couple of old planks of wood under his feet first.) This makes space for more trash. Sometimes he has a little too much fun! I have to emphasize that this is NOT a requirement – he really does this for fun. Mike Rowe could have easily done a couple of episodes of “dirty jobs” all about workamping and Mark.
What is this area like? The variety of wildlife in North Carolina constantly amazes us! Snakes, eagles, elk, hummingbirds, wood thrushes, cardinals, chipmunks, butterflies, trout and salamanders are just some of the creatures we’ve seen.
We have also been in awe of the mountains, waterfalls, forests and trails here. This part of the country is full of beauty and wonder. Even after 5 months there is still much we have yet to explore.
Along with “nature” there are also many creature comforts in the area – 2 Walmarts within a few miles, lots of wonderful local shops, restaurants, orchards, farmers markets and for us the Asheville VA was very conveniently located about 45 minutes away. Mark was able to get established with a Dr. there and we are using Asheville as his primary care location since we plan to pass through here at least once a year.
What is our favorite part of workamping? The people we’ve met here are wonderful and interesting! We’ve met so many amazing people from various states and even other countries. People of all ages and different walks of life, fellow-campers have taught us about water heaters, cable, wildlife and campfires among other things. Just a few of those whom we have met and now consider friends are Jim and Dana (owners of Moonshine Creek,) John and Bonnie (traveling in their vintage trailer and truck) and so many seasonal campers and workampers who have shared their knowledge and experience with us. All these friends have validated our commitment to see as much as we can for as long as we can. We hope to pass on some of the kindness we’ve experienced along the way.
Our fellow workampers have been terrific teachers and encouragers. The fact that they are caring, funny and super hard-working is awesome too. Plus most of them have dogs that I (Andrea) can pet! We feel like the most important benefit of workamping has been the opportunity to LISTEN and LEARN as much as we can from those who have been doing this much longer than we have. This job has been so rewarding and honestly it doesn’t seem like WORK. It seems like something we have been preparing for our whole lives and we love it!
How much do we earn while workamping? Last year, before we workamped, we were over-budget and dipping into savings every month. This is one reason we decided to give workamping a try. We have been able to save site rental and laundry fees for the past 5 months and our diesel budget has been much smaller during our stay here. Working in exchange for our full hook up site/ laundry/ cable and a discount on our propane allows us to save money and put some aside for travel expenses as we plan to do more traveling next summer. No money changes hands so workamping does not increase our taxable income but it decreases our expenses – it’s a win/win for workampers and campground owners alike.
Why aren’t we traveling as much as we did when we first started full-time? One reason we started this RV lifestyle in the first place was to “slow down.” We have had to remind ourselves that this isn’t a race, we are NOT on vacation and slow and steady is better in the long term. We want to do this for many years to come! The 12 hours a week that we each work still allow time for us to hike, sight-see and explore. The 3-6 month workamping commitment gives us a chance to really see and get to know the area. Not towing the fifth wheel as much saves on diesel expenses. This seems like the perfect balance for us.
What is involved in finishing out a camping season at Moonshine Creek? October is one of the busiest months here and many people reserve sites a year in advance to come and see the fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our shifts remain busy right up to the end of the season, October 31st! This month we are saying good-bye to seasonal campers who have been here the entire time we have been here. As they begin to leave for the winter, the campground seems emptier and the final clean up and closing up process begins for the workampers. A thorough cleaning of the camping cabins, rental cabins and bathrooms takes place before we all leave.
Just a few of our Seasonal Friends we will see again next year:
Where are we going and what are we doing next? We plan to leave Western North Carolina in early November and start toward Avon Park Air Force Range in Central Florida where we will be workamping through March 2020. Avon Park AFR is a conservation area AND an Air Force practice bombing range. We have jokingly said that if we get there and our “uniforms” have a bullseye on them we won’t be staying! We know that our duties will be in support of the hunting program that is under the Outdoor Recreation Office. We have committed to return to Moonshine Creek at the end of March through mid-July. We do have some plans for next summer but we’ll tell you more about that as the time gets closer. As always we remain flexible.
SIDE NOTE: I know there are several blog-readers who are interested in organized Christian Service projects for RVers. The following organizations were recommended to us by Debby, one of our fellow-workampers. Just click on the name to open their website:
- RVics (Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service)
- S.O.W.E.R. (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready)
- Hard Hat Construction Ministry
So thanks for following this adventure so far! If you have any unanswered questions about Moonshine Creek or workamping in general let us know in the comments below. Florida will be a whole new experience, still camping and working but with different responsibilities. We’ll let you know what Avon Park Air Force Range is like when we post next.