Nearly 10 years ago, my family was a full-time RV family. For 18 months, my husband and I traveled with our three teenagers and rescued pound puppies in a 31-foot motorhome while my husband worked.
Now that our kids are grown, my husband and I dream of returning to a life on the road. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mike and Betty Gill, a retired couple who are doing exactly what my husband and I would like to do. They’ve left the traditional brick-and-mortar life behind in favor of living a more transient life. Former business professionals, the Gills now work seasonally at Dollywood. They chose to take on roles where they can work together at Aunt Granny’s Buffet. He carves meat and she greets hungry guests.
What is work camping?
At its simplest definition, work camping is simply finding jobs that you can do to support your nomadic full-time camping lifestyle.
Work camping allows thousands of people across the country the opportunity to see America while earning an income to cover travel expenses. Most work campers work a specific number of hours for an hourly wage, housing, or both.
Dollywood is one of the many employers who seek to hire work campers for seasonal positions and employs more than 100 of them throughout the operating seasons at both Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country. Positions at Dollywood include operating the rides, games, or food service. It could also be helping in ticket booths, working in one of the many retail properties, or assisting visitors in the parking lot. There are many jobs available in Dollywood and chances are, you’ll find one to fit your gifts and abilities.
Why it works for the Gills
Mike and Betty have worked in the park for several years which allows them to pay their expenses without diminishing their retirement. While they could work anywhere, they return to Dollywood during the spring and fall months because the work culture of Dollywood aligns with their own Christian values. They appreciate the teamwork and sense of family they experience from the rest of the Dollywood staff, the changing seasons in the Smokies, and the varied festivals that Dollywood offers throughout the year. They are also able to use their God-given gifts to minister to those around them, whether that would be simply listening to someone share their burdens, taking time to pray with someone who needs prayer, or providing a monetary gift to someone in need.
Dollywood is very attentive to the needs of their employees. In the four years that they have worked in the park, they have only missed sharing one lunch together and they always work the same schedule as one another.
If you’d like to work in a family-friendly environment at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains while supporting your dream of living the full-time RV life, work camping at Dollywood may be for you. You can visit this page to learn more about the Dollywood work camping program to see if it may be a good fit for you.