Here is how it works. There are big corporations who bid on concession contracts with the National Park Service to run the retail, lodging, restaurants and entertainment in the National Parks. We found this out by visiting several national and state parks last year while we were “Living In Our Minivan”. Once this information was obtained, we discussed it, picked a park, applied, were hired and we reported for work on June 8, 2015. To protect the innocent the company name will remain anonymous. We were really lucky, as the other company in the park was huge, impersonal and had very low dress standards (just an observation).
We agreed on jobs, were assigned a nice dorm room, were given our uniform t-shirts and directed to the EDR (employee dining room). The EDR fed us very well. A portion of our salary was deducted for room and board. Our room was like a Days Inn room: Sink, closet, private bath and good-size bedroom. We also had a (free) laundry room on the basement floor where the only TV lived. We had no Wi-Fi and very poor to no cell coverage. The public areas of the dorm were kept OCD clean. We were responsible for our space (not OCD).
NOW FOR THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WONDERFUL:
GOOD: There were three age groups (1) college age (2) retired and (3) middle-aged teachers off for the summer. Most of the college age are from foreign countries (?), this company seems to have a hard time getting American students who want to work for them in the summer. The retired (us and a few others) are here because we cannot sit on the couch any longer and because they, like us, want to see these parks. These are all really wonderful people to work with, we all became friends and formed a tight team. We spent time out in the park together or visiting in our rooms, playing cards or pool in the TV room.
Brandon, Robert and Rose
Brandon, Lily, Teegie and Grace
Rose, Robert and me
Teegie, Grace and Mel
BAD: We worked for a very large, privately owned corporation with juvenile rules that had to be upheld by our manager, who obviously didn’t always agree with them, because she was normal and human. We had to “clock-in” and couldn’t do it two minutes early, even if we were just standing there. The General Store was open 14 hours per day, seven days a week. We alternated shifts each week, (hard to get used to). We stayed short staffed all summer and HR either would not or could not get us the proper help. My assumption, from years of working is, the smaller the payroll, the larger the profit. This MAY be the reason American college students won’t come to work for them – their reputation proceeds them. This was real work, standing/walking 7+ hours per day. The poor customers had to pay the high price by waiting in long lines. This was especially hard on them because Yellowstone is huge and moving from one area of the park to another takes a very long time. They were tired, but they didn’t take it out on us (much). I don’t have a picture of the dorm, but I do have a couple critters who came to visit us at our dorm. Sweet husband purchased bear spray after one of these visits.
Black Bear next to our dorm
WONDERFUL: Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas. Teton National Park, Cody, WY, The Bear Tooth Highway, Mesa Falls in Idaho, The local live theater in West Yellowstone and so much more. I will have details in the following posts.