According to Workamper News, work campers are adventurous individuals, couples, and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines any kind of part-time or full-time work or volunteering with RV camping.
We had gone to Texas because I had taken a position with Christian Resort Ministries (CRM). I would be serving as chaplain for CRM in an RV Resort. I would receive a portion of offerings given at the worship services which would cover the cost of our stay.
I discovered CRM through a web search. After reading about the organization I completed a form which on the web site said it would result in my receiving more information. The form was more like a job application and incudded my listing a few individuals as potential references. After a few weeks I received an email from a regional director who wanted to set up a time for us to have a conversation. We had a lengthy phone conversation and I learned that he had already contacted my references. During that first conversation he invited me to join his team of chaplains who were serving in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. He wanted me to begin the winter of 2019-20. That would be immediately after our retirement. I told him we needed to wait until the next winter. We wanted to get a little time on the road before we did this. After about six months Mary and I decided if they were still interested we would give it a try our second winter on the road.
CRM International’s mission is to bring Christ to those who know Him and those who don’t know him. They have chaplains and ministries in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to chaplains they have helping ministries that serve disadvantaged persons.
We began with a week of training in Brownsville, Texas. This training gave us the opportunity to understand what our responsibilities would be and practical strategies to fulfill those responsibilities. More importantly it gave us a chance to get to know other couples who would be serving as chaplains in RV Resorts in the Rio Grande Valley. We were, for all practical purposes, pastors in each of the resorts we served. I would be the pastor for Park Place Estates RV Resort. The arrangement was basically a partnership between the small congregation at the resort and CRM.
Park Place is a very large park. There are over eight-hundred sites. Many of those sites have permanent residences on them either park models or RVs which have been converted for full time living. Most of the residents were seasonal “Snow Birds” or in the Valley known as “Winter Texans.” There are some who are full time residents.
`We found the park to be a great place to spend the winter. At Harlingen we were about thirty minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican border. The weather was quite pleasant. All of the staff were outstanding. The grounds were well kept and very pretty. I would have liked to have had more trees. Parts of the park had plenty of trees, but a large portion of the park had very few. There are a lot of mature palm trees which are fun to look at but aren’t very good for shade. Park Place has a lot of amenities. There is a security gate at the park entrance. Sites were full hook up with thirty and fifty amps. There is a pool, dog park, exercise room, ball room, post office, woodshop, craft room, RC race track and much more. The staff member we were closest with was the activity director. She is a wonderful woman with a great heart. She did everything she could to help us with our stay and work. She plans a wide variety of activities which are always well done.
But, we were there during the height of the Covid pandemic. The population in the park was greatly reduced because of Covid. Everything was different. Activities were severely limited. Gatherings were restricted if not forbidden. For a while we did not have services at all. I did make some visits in the park and made a hospital visit. When we did begin to have Sunday services we would meet in the clubhouse which was a large space and we could easily practice social distancing. We had three weeks of services when I became ill and was unable to continue.
For us, work camping is ideal. We were able to be in a nice park in a warm place during the winter doing the things we love to do. We would love to do it again during a time of no Covid restrictions. I’m convinced it would be a great experience, Honestly we only got a taste of work camping. So I certainly am no expert. But here is my two cents worth: If you are living on a budget, looking for a warm nice place to spend the winter, then look for an opportunity doing something you enjoy, and go for it.
Next time we’ll talk about what happens when you become critically ill on the road.