Today I will speak with an employer who hires Workampers for jobs within one of the most spectacular national parks in America – Yellowstone.
Erin Benike is Delaware North’s general manager of its 12 Yellowstone General Stores located within the second-most visited national park in America. Many of the nearly 4 million Yellowstone visitors annually spend time and money in one of the park’s general stores buying souvenirs, gift items, food, beverages, clothing and other merchandise, like RV supplies.
The company hires Workampers to serve as cashiers, stockers, food service associates, cooks, custodians, supervisors and managers. All the jobs are paid positions with wages ranging between $15 and $19 per hour.
Workampers live in 140 RV sites scattered throughout Yellowstone in what are termed “villages.” There is often a general store near each village. Erin said she likes to hire Workampers because they can typically start earlier and stay later than the college students who live in dormitories.
In fact, Workampers played a critical role at the park during the past two years because travel restrictions prevented many foreign workers from accepting jobs at the park.
Stores begin opening in late April until all the stores are operating before Memorial Day. Then, stores begin closing right after Labor Day until all but one shuts down by the middle of October. One store near the park’s headquarters remains open all year to serve permanent park staff.
Workampers generally put in 35 to 40 hours a week by working five days with two days off. However, Erin explains that next year Delaware North will experiment with a schedule where people work four days in a row with three days off each week. That will give Workampers plenty of time to explore the many features of Yellowstone.
Stores are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., which also gives Workampers plenty of daylight to explore after their shifts end.
Only a few jobs, like painters and HVAC technicians, have special job requirements. The company provides on-the-job training for other positions.
Workampers pay between $35 and $49 per week for a full-hookup RV site within the park. That’s a bargain in and of itself. But, for another $63 per week, they can take advantage of an employee meal plan and enjoy three meals plus snacks, fruits and drinks throughout the day. Erin said it’s like having your grandmother cook for you.
One of the unique aspects of Workamping at Yellowstone is that the campgrounds are frequently visited by bison and elk who mosey their way through the region. It’s quite a site.
Recruitment for the following season officially kicks off in September at the Hershey, Penn., RV Show. Applications are accepted all year, but usually reviewed for the first time in November after the current season ends. However, recruitment continues all winter until the stores start opening in April.
The process involves a phone call to get to know the Workamper and learn what his or her preferences are for jobs and location. Then there is a discussion about job requirements and company policies. If the applicant wishes to move forward, then a hiring decision is usually made within two weeks of that interview.
Enthusiasm for working at Yellowstone is one trait that really helps applicants stand out, Erin explained. Also, if they are able to work longer seasons by starting before Memorial Day or working after Labor Day, that’s a plus.
Delaware North prefers couples simply because the firm gets two workers for each campsite. However, solos are also hired and so are teenagers over 16 who are living in their parents’ RV.
People will really enjoy Workamping at Yellowstone. I have interviewed several folks who have held positions over the years and they all describe it as a very memorable experience – especially the ability to go behind the scenes into areas of the park that tourists typically avoid because they only have time to see the big attractions.
Grand Tetons National Park is only an hour away from Yellowstone and Workampers get free passes to visit there. Other activities in the area include whitewater rafting, horseback riding and, of course, hiking and biking.
Because Yellowstone is several hours away from really big cities, Workampers receive a 30% discount on items purchased at the general stores. The real bargain is that they can get a full-hookup RV site inside the second-most popular national park and, if they desire, all their meals and snacks for around $100 per week.
For more information about the jobs and to apply, visit www.ygsjobs.com.
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Our next episode will feature an interview with another employer looking to hire Workampers for jobs within some national forests next season.