Workamping Creates Jobs in the Outdoors
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, and read the following story from the newspaper.
For the past decade, retired mechanic David Standaert has been in transit, towing his 27-foot travel trailer to scenic places coast to coast.
The 71-year-old Pequannock, N.J., native is living the Jack Kerouac dream, clocking thousands of miles in his mobile bachelor pad.
As Standaert tours national wildlife refuges, he meets other free spirits and explores a variety of environs, encompassing dark forests, red deserts and rocky shorelines. His Kodak moments include closeups of wolves, alligators and snakes.
He offsets the cost of his adventures by working parttime at each refuge he visits. Helping out 20-something hours a week earns him a sweet spot to park his trailer for a few months, often with a free electrical hookup.
The coupling of RV travel and seasonal employment is known as “workamping,” a movement that dates back two decades. The average age of a workamper is 59 and the estimated population of the roving community is climbing, according to Steve Anderson, editor of Workamper News. About 750,000 people are on the roll.
“I have no problems explaining this lifestyle to people,” says Standaert. “They may have a problem understanding it.”
He is based at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex, N.J., through October.
Volunteerism and RV travel intersect in the world of “workamping,” a lifestyle that’s being embraced by a growing number of retirees who want to help out at nature preserves while traveling on a budget. The Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex has a special site where workers can park their trailers, with free electrical hookups. The resident volunteers conduct educational programs and maintain the property, which spans 5,500 acres.
“If I had to take planes and trains and pay for motels, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to see what I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Standaert says.
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