The night before the Workamper Rendezvous officially began, at least thirty campers staying at the Corps of Engineer Park at the Heber Springs Arkansas Dam Site huddled together in the bathrooms, tornado warning sirens blaring. It was an unusual networking site, but contact info was exchanged and friendships forged. The rain continued to pour and some roads were washed out at the Corps Park, but not even inclement weather dampened the spirits of the attendees. One “Dreamer” couple said: “Even the weather was a learning experience. We learned we needed a weather radio in our RV to warn us of threatening weather!” Another person who flew into Little Rock airport said she was greeted by tornado sirens as she stepped off the plane.
To enlighten the general population, “Dreamers” are those who are dreaming and planning to workamp in the future. The term Workamper, a registered trademark, was coined to describe anyone who combines any kind of work with the RV camping lifestyle. Designed to put mostly retired or semi-retired RVers and employers together, the initial focus of Workamper News was on jobs in the Outdoor Hospitality Industry (resorts, campgrounds, theme parks, state/national parks, etc). Workampers are adventurous individuals or couples, with great attitudes that take pride in their work and who network with others that share their love of travel and adventure, exploring America, one job at a time. Workamping News customers are also the Employers who seek Workampers to fill their positions. Today, there are traditional large-scale companies, such as Amazon, that hire Workampers for their many fulfillment centers. Volunteers are also sought by states and national parks, wildlife refuges and many other charitable organizations.
The first-ever Workamper Rendezvous consisted of three jam-packed days of seminars, networking, presentations, food and entertainment in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Presenters came from Texas and Arizona. An HR Representative from Amazon was kept busy conducting one-on-one interviews with Workampers to fill job opportunities at Amazon’s fulfillment centers for the 2011-2012 Holiday Season. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also presented their employment opportunities and encouraged applications all over the country.
At the Workamper Rendezvous, attendees raved about the quality of the seminars offered, the new friends made, as well as the facilities at the Heber Springs Community Center. Several people commented about how unusual it is for a town of less than 7,000 to have such a facility. Mayor Jackie McPherson welcomed attendees to the event and explained how the town made it happen. He was pleased to hear that many Workampers came early to enjoy the lakes and rivers and natural surroundings in the area. Those that stayed for Friday’s Bonus Day gladly saw a blue sky and the beautiful scenery. The Bonus Day consisted of a choice of an eight-hour RV maintenance course or a Resume makeover and Interviewing techniques course.
So enthusiastic were the nearly 200 Rendezvous attendees that Steve Anderson, President of Workamper News, Inc., was asked over and over: “When is the next one? “ Another person commented, “I have attended many conferences before, but this was the best ever: all the seminars were relevant, there wasn’t a boring moment and the venue was fantastic.” Anderson is already planning the next one, albeit not in tornado season.
One of the greatest compliments heard was from a couple who announced they were heading back home at the end of the conference, cutting their vacation short, because they could hardly wait to start the Workamper lifestyle. They were going to use their remaining vacation days to begin acting on their intentions to become Workampers by the fall season. They said the Rendezvous was just the impetus they had needed!
Numerous meals were included in the cost of the seminar, but even after the official end, attendees were invited to join the staff of Workamper News, as well as the Presenters for a “Dutch treat” meal at a local seafood buffet. Amazingly, nearly 200 Workampers or “Dreamers” joined in.
Outside the restaurant at the end of Thursday evening, the staff shared a group hug and hooray in celebration of their accomplishment. Attendees’ eyes had been opened to thousands of opportunities to explore America, one job at a time, and had been provided the tools to make it happen. Even Mother Nature wasn’t able to stand in the way, but most likely created memories for a lifetime.
History of Workamper News, Inc.
Workamper News began in 1987 as a subscription newsletter distributed to a niche market of Workampers as well as a variety of commercial campgrounds, government agencies and organizations affiliated with the outdoor industry. As the Workamper base grew and more jobs meant more pages, the newsletter became a full-fledged magazine. Today, the issues generally contain at least 62 pages of information about job vacancies from coast to coast and some in Canada, as well as features on great Workamping destinations, Workamper and Employer profiles, and general information pertaining to Workamping and Rving. The introduction of the world wide web enabled Workamper News to expand its services in 1996, and through the years, online subscriptions and optional participation in a variety of forums, webinars, Hotline job advertisements, bookstore, email services and more has created a membership based organization. Today, Workamper News, Inc. is owned and hands-on managed by Steve and Kathy Jo Anderson. Having purchased the business in 2005, they continue to expand the opportunities to both Workampers and Employers.
Steve Anderson, President