Maumee Bay State Park is our favorite state park in Ohio, and one of our favorites anywhere. The campground’s roads and pads are nicely paved. The camp sites are large with lots of grass and shade trees. There’s plenty of hiking trails and paved biking trails, both in the campground and in the surrounding park. In addition to a great campground, the park has a beautiful lodge and beach area. And on top of all that, it’s close to where we grew up and therefore to some family and friends who still live in the area.
We’ve been coming to the park for a few years now, and thought it might be fun to be camper hosts. We applied and were accepted. Our tour ran for four weeks from July 12th through August 9th. The campground tries to engage a total of six camper host couples (12 people) each week during the summer.
In exchange for volunteering as hosts, the campground provided us with a free campsite during the four weeks. The signup materials listed the number of hours as being about 40 a week with two days off. We could spread the hours between the two of us. In other words, the exchange works out to about $3.30/hour, assuming we would be using our Passport America discount for the site and working 40 hours. Not exactly a living wage, but that’s not the point of being a camper host. Most hosts simply do it for fun.
The campground has 256 sites total, and is completely full every weekend in the summer and partially full the rest of the time. Our regular duties included looking after 46 sites and one bathroom, pulling some light office duty twice a week, and directing the traffic at the dump station on Sunday mornings. Most campers arrive on Friday and leave on Sunday, hence the traffic jam around the dump stations on Sunday mornings. In addition to the regular duties, hosts are sometimes called upon to do some gardening and/or maintenance as needed.
We were somewhat surprised to learn that our other duties included participation in weekend fundraising events by the “Friends of Maumee Bay” organization. The “Friends” is a local group that loves the park, and uses the money to enhance it.
These fundraising events included bingo on Friday night, coffee and donuts on Saturday morning, followed by kids crafts, an ice cream social on Saturday night, and coffee and donuts again on Sunday morning. In addition, there were a number of themed weekends, such as “Kite Days”, “Christmas in July”, and “Hawaiian Weekend”, which included decorations and additional activities.
Unfortunately, the campground was short on hosts during the time we volunteered. One couple had an illness in their family and one couple had an RV breakdown and arrived weeks late. So rather than 12 hosts, there were only 8. This bumped our hours up to well over 40 a week.
Another issue is that some members of the local “Friends” group were not able to help with their themed events as scheduled. This meant the the hosts had to pick up some of these activities as well.
Overall our experience was fun, but we were much busier than we expected to be. We were not counting on having to be available at least part of every weekday and all day on the weekends, meaning no days off.
As mentioned above, we love this park. We decided to stay an additional 10 days past our hosting time, just so we could enjoy the area and see and do the things we were not free to do while we were “on duty”.
The hosts work hard to make the campground nice for everyone who visits. And the “Friends” do likewise. Anyone who has camped at Maumee Bay will tell you it is a clean and beautiful park. I believe our experience would have been much more enjoyable if we had been fully staffed. We definitely enjoyed our interactions with the other hosts and “Friends”, the park staff, and the regular campers. And the park is great.
Would we do it again? Becky = maybe. David = probably not.
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