by Sharee Collier Fulltime Workamper
Many people we come in contact with us ask the very same question, “What’s it like to live and work at Jellystone Park?”
There are many one-word responses that come to mind, each would ultimately move the conversation quickly along with few details about what it was really like. We won’t use those today. Today, we’ll give a little more detail on the experiences we’ve had with Workamping at Jellystone Parks.
For starters, it should be known that each Jellystone Park is independently owned and operated under a franchise agreement with Leisure Systems, Inc. It appears the majority, if not all, of the parks started as private campgrounds, who at some point joined the franchise system for one reason or another. Whatever the reason, they must have had a deeply rooted desire to promote family camping, because after all…If you plaster your park with Yogi Bear signage, statues and themed weekends, you would have to assume you’re trying to attract family campers.
With that said – no two parks are alike! Each campground has special characteristics that it inherited from the owner, the area and maybe even the campers who it accommodates. Whatever the reasons, each Jellystone Park is greatly different in what it offers, how it operates, and even what it charges.
Workamping at a Jellystone Park is no different! So, depending on the park you choose, the season you work, and the position you are hired in for, your experiences will likely vary from one to another.
Why did you choose Jellystone Parks?
Our whole reasoning behind seeking out the parks inside the Yogi Bear Franchise was that we were looking for some sort of consistency. We knew we would be traveling the back roads of America, working in small towns with lots of…character. So we wanted to make sure there was a thin layer of corporate security that operating under a franchise would offer. We also had the crazy idea that family friendly, kid-themed parks would be equally welcoming and accommodating to Workamping Families. I would say we were right in our overall assumptions! Our experiences with Jellystone Parks have been very pleasurable. We’ve had the opportunity to work as Park Rangers, Recreation Director, Store Inventory Manager, and General Managers inside the franchise system. We’ve also had the pleasure of attending their Annual Symposium and their Management Training & Certification Course.
Were the individual parks open to Workamping Families?
Yes and no. To be honest, I think they warmed up to the idea! At first it may seem a little off. The recruiters might ask themselves questions like, “Why are these people living in an RV?” “Are they homeless?” “Why didn’t they mention they had kids?”
These are all reasonable questions if you think about it from the employer’s perspective. After all, in the grand scheme of things, there aren’t very many Workamping Families, so we might be the first they have ever seen! However, even though employers may have been caught off guard at first, they were all very welcoming and accepting (at least to us) after they realized Workamping Families are totally awesome!
What is an example of a typical day?
Anything other than typical! Workamping at Jellystone was a blast and great bonding experience for our family. Antwon & I worked opposite shifts most days, which allowed us to homeschool the children. But on some days, we all showed up to work at 8 a.m. Those were the most fun and the most enjoyable!
Being able to divide and conquer and achieve 100% more than what you would have otherwise was a huge benefit. Here are some days we thought were typical:
1. The whole family working from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. for a school field day of 400 middle school students plus teachers and parents. On this day, we all went to work. Antwon & I took one of the twins each, and sent each of our older girls with one of the park staff to help in their assigned area.
This worked out very well. The older girls were able to really help out while the twins were kept close by.
2. Antwon & I building a fence for the horses out of a golf cart and poles. A small tornado touched down during the night, tearing a hole in the side of the horse fence. I noticed it on my way to work and called Antwon down to help me keep the animals inside. We had no supplies, so we just used the golf cart and the poles from the fence to make a wall until the maintenance crew arrived on site.
3. Watching our cottage be struck by lightning from the front gate with park guests. A large storm knocked out the electricity to the front gate, leaving campers locked out and us locked in. As Antwon opened a side gate to allow traffic through, our family watched our own cottage be struck by lightning from just 100 ft. away.
What are the benefits?
Workamping for a Jellystone Park can have amazing benefits for your family. Once you’ve received your job offer, feel free to ask a few probing questions regarding what is available for your family while living onsite – Will you be able to use park amenities? Will the kids receive discounts on crafts? Will you have access to a park golf cart? Are you able to bring your own? Having a clear picture of this property’s expectations and accommodations will help you decide if the position is a good fit for your family.
At the three parks we’ve worked for we were given a wide range of benefits which included, his-and-her golf carts, onsite housing, custom built 2 bedroom cottage, free access to park amenities, ability to bring the kids to work, custom wardrobes, three TV commercials and access to the company vehicle, among a few others.
Every family’s experience will come with its own set of benefits. Remember, Workamping can be whatever you want it to be. So, if you have certain needs or wants, the best way to approach the situation would be to first find out what they offer and ask to make changes or substitutions to that list, if needed.
How do you find a job with Jellystone Parks?
As we stated before, each park is independently operated, so each park will have its own way of recruiting and advertising for their available positions. The best way we’ve found is to stay informed of what was posted in the latest edition of Workamper News and with what is being added daily to the Hotline.
Over the past two years we’ve seen many parks advertise for their positions in Workamper News and the Hotline, which leads us to believe Jellystone Parks consider Workamper.com to be a valid resource for staffing. These are always our first two reference points, since it is so widely used and easily accessible.
The last option is to contact each park you are considering directly. We do this in three steps:
1. Check their website: All parks are listed under franchise website
– http://www.campjellystone.com This is the best place to start when looking for contact info on each park.
2. Send your resume in an email to highest position available (owner, manager): Send a general inquiry in an email to the owner or park manager with your resume attached for their review.
3. Do a follow up call to see if they are hiring or will be for the next season: Call the park directly and ask the owner or manager if they are currently hiring for this season, or the next, and what positions they have open.
However you find your next position, remember to ask good questions, get lots of details, and have a written agreement of the position and compensation.
Our experiences with Jellystone Parks have been wonderful, and for that reason we recommend that other Workampers give them a try.
If you are interested in working for one of the parks in the Yogi Bear Franchise System, be prepared for a rollercoaster of amazing family experiences both big and small. Finding the position will take time and dedication, but for those who are successful, the opportunity will likely prove to be a lasting family memory cherished for years to come.
Sharee Collier is a wife, mom, fulltime traveler and positive voice promoting the young, fulltime travelers movement. After realizing the stereotypical American Dream wasn’t her family’s idea of the good life, Sharee and her husband, Antwon, said enough was enough and they packed their stuff… Now, this slightly quirky family of 6, is traveling the U.S. finding new and exciting adventures, in homeschooling, Workamping and travel. They are Families on the road members and you can visit their blog at www.meetthecolliers.com