Every year, Amazon hires approximately 50,000 seasonal workers to help fulfill its massive amount of holiday orders between September and December. The company has a program called CamperForce, in which employees camp out (for free) near the company's large fulfillment centers. CamperForce workers are typically RV enthusiasts and have dubbed themselves "workampers."
Camp free and get paid
Amazon offers free camping for its CamperForce workers, complete with sewer hookups or honey wagon service (waste pick-up). Electricity is sometimes covered by Amazon as well, but at some sites, workers are responsible for this cost (this information is outlined in the job descriptions). RVers who would like some seasonal work to get them through the rest of the year or to earn extra money for Christmas gifts may find this 10 to 12 week gig the perfect complement to their RVing lifestyle. Work ends by December 23, so workers can be with their families for Christmas or hit the road for a new adventure. As an added bonus, workers get a discount on Amazon products.
Some things you can expect:
What CamperForce workers say
In a March 2012 CamperFqorce newsletter [PDF], Paul and Irene Luft, a couple who has work-camped for 11 years, including 5 years with Amazon, shared why they return year after year. "It's the local workforce as well as the many friends we have made throughout the years."
Making work-camp friends seems to be one of the reasons that many CamperForce workers mention on blogs and message boards for returning to Amazon each year during the holidays.
Becky Schade, the 28-year-old owner of the RVing blog Interstellar Orchard, is a new CamperForce worker who has a unique outlook on life and work. She couldn't see the benefit at her young age of a 9-to-5 job. Instead, she travels full-time in her RV and plans to look for work-camp experiences as she needs to. There were a couple of different reasons why CamperForce was attractive to her.
"[CamperForce has] better pay than the vast majority of work-camping options out there. Also, it is relatively close to my parent's house so when I get out the day before Christmas it won't be too hard getting to them in time for the holidays."
According to the official Amazon CamperForce website, there are three locations for the CamperForce program:
Possible drawbacks to the program
One of the main complaints posted by CamperForce participants in RVer online forums is the long work days standing on your feet. Shifts are 10 hours long and workers stand on concrete, which is tiring and uncomfortable if you're not accustomed to this type of work. For their part, Amazon has tried to combat this by easing workers into a full-time schedule, starting with shorter shifts for their first two weeks.
In an Amazon CamperForce newsletter, workers are encouraged to start walking regularly prior to arriving at the campground to get into shape, since much of the work is physical in nature. Some of the different jobs CamperForce workers are placed in include:
According to Harmon Anders of Mountainborn Chronicles, workers undergo "work hardening" for two weeks. Work hardening consists of two weeks of five-hour work days to condition workers for the ten-hour work days they will start in the third week of working for CamperForce.
Another disadvantage to some is that the fulfillment centers are located in small, out of the way towns, so resources may be limited and local restaurants crowded during the peak part of the worker season. Others see this as an advantage, because the towns tend to welcome the "workampers" with open arms and a positive attitude.
Some workers have reported that they aren't certain of the shift or work days until they arrive for the training program. One worker I spoke with commented that she didn't know what job she would be doing until mere days before starting and that shifts are sometimes different than what was requested. However, Amazon does warn during the interview process that workers may not necessarily get the exact shifts they want.
Tips for success
Schade and other bloggers have shared a few inside tips for success for your time at CamperForce:
Apply for CamperForce positions on Amazon.com or use the email addresses below to get more information.
2654 N. Highway 169
1050 S. Columbia Ave.
1600 E. Newlands Drive