Over five years ago, I wrote this article about retirees in RV’s who have become the new American nomads. Many of these folks work for my company each season, getting wages and a camping site in exchange for taking care of campgrounds. This is often called work camping.
A reader sent me this video from the NY Times discussing the same phenomenon (here is the print article). The only difference is these folks work for the government, which means that unlike at private companies, they don’t get paid. I find it kind of fascinating that the NY Times thinks it’s a wonderful innovation that “cash-strapped state governments” help balance the budget on the backs of free labor from older people. Can you imagine what the headlines would be if all the facts were changed, but the entity was a manufacturing company rather than a state park? It would have been torches and pitchforks (it is illegal except in narrow cases for private companies to accept free labor — the government of course exempts itself from this requirement, as it does from much of labor law).
I actually think my article was better. The way work campers tend to disperse over the summer and then congregate over the winter in a couple of gathering spots (Colorado River in AZ, South Texas, Florida) reminds me a lot of the plains Indian tribes. And the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle when the world wants you to have a permanent address are interesting, and there are whole business models being crafted to solve these problems.
Anyway, our company hires nearly 500 of these folks every year, and are huge supporters of this lifestyle (and we pay!) If you are interested, check out our websites above and sign up for our job newsletter.