Country Maple RV Resort – Work-Camping Review

Summer of 2022

This is a “membership park“, and is part of the Holiday Trails RV Resorts group, which at this time only owns three campgrounds and a small motel, all the parks are located in British Columbia, but a membership also gets members access to three host parks, two in Alberta and one in British Columbia, Country Maples is the only park that they own on Vancouver Island. There have been some parks sold off recently and I believe one host park has also left the group recently as well. Presently they are not selling any new memberships, which indicates to me that they don’t have enough sites for their membership base that they have right now, this park also accepts non-members into the park, and the park is also acting as a host park for other membership groups (such as Coast to Coast, RPI) but we are told the park is pretty much booked solid for this summer season.

Lets start with the numbers, this position includes a site at a “reduced rate”, our site which has to be one of the worst full hook-up sites in the park, is costing us $500 dollars all taxes in every 28 days and that is for a 30 amp site with full hook-up. The pay for the “summer help” (which is what we are referred to as) is $16.50 per hour (minimum wage in British Columbia is $15.65 per hour as of June 1st of this year) and all positions pay the same rate. The work hours for the first six weeks were all over the map, but according to the summer schedule my hours will be only 30 hours per week. And Laurie’s hours will be in that area as well, although in the spring if the store is not busy, they would just close it ahead of the scheduled times, reducing everyone’s hours, but for July and August all the camp store hours should increase and become more standardized.

There seems to be a lot of staff for the size of the park and some employees have been here a number of years, I don’t know what the longer term staff rate of pay is, but they speak as if it is not very much more, but a few of the maintenance staff are employed full-time as in year round. They also seem to have nicer sites with 50 amp full hook-ups, but they are still paying for their sites. We are the most junior members on staff, as many of the this years new staff hires are from people that were staying in the park as winter resident’s, while we only rolled in mid May, so my hours seem to be less then every one else in the maintenance group, good side of that is that I do get three consecutive days off a week, but only two days are with Laurie.

Laurie’s hours are split between working in the office as well as the camp store, she refers to the reservation program as antiquated and difficult to work with, some of these issues I’m sure are caused by all the different membership rates, rules, and regulations, and in the store, many of the items in the store are bar coded and scannable which should make checking people out it a quicker progress, but in some cases they have made the process too complex and can slow the process down. The store also controls the mini-golf course, as well as most firewood sales, it is the lost and found center for the park, and sells exchange propane tanks as well, the store staff is also responsible for continually bagging ice from the ice machine in their spare time. So the store it self is always very warm and very noisy with all the coolers and the ice maker running continually. Store shifts can be seven hours long with no break, or relief, then at days end the cash and till along with the deposit needs to be taken to the managers site at the top of the entrance hill.

I have often referred to this whole operation as a rudderless ship, as it changes direction almost daily as if caught up in an ever changing breeze that is always blowing the ship in a different direction. The park manager has been here twenty years, but a lot of the decisions seem to be made by a committee, a group of people that we just refer to as the dream team. While they describe themselves as regular employees, they do enjoy benefits such as full hour long lunch breaks from jobs that don’t allow anyone else those perks, and they appear to be influencing many of the management decisions. Because we are just short term summer help, I can not say if park operation is better or worse than before, but when we were asked if we would return next year, we declined.

The campground is clean, well maintained and quite beautiful and has a great location on the Chemainus River on the very picturesque Vancouver Island, while some of the campsites are quite small and cramped, others seem huge, the section referred to as Arizona row has almost no shade at all, while in other areas the sites are cut into old growth forest. We have found most of the members to be very unfriendly and overly demanding, and are constantly trying to bend the rules for their own benefit, I have been sworn at many times, but that apparently is not an uncommon event, from speaking with other staff members.

While we will not be returning, if you are considering applying to any advertisement from this group, be aware that the positions being advertised are not always even available as was the case when we applied, and looking back at our interview process, there were lots of warning signs of possible management problems that we failed to pickup on. The one that sticks out in my mind, was when we asked what the wage would be, we never did get a straight answer, and in reality we did not know our rate of pay until we received our first pay stub, and still are not really sure of our end date, but we now know our site is only held till September 28th.

Well it is now mid September, and the park Manager has taken the month of September off, leaving the park under the control of three others. From what I understand this is a regular event in September, but it seems to be having a negative effect on many of the summer help, with shifts and hours being slashed drastically, and duties being spread to people who have not been trained on procedures or protocols. I’m thinking that that the hours are being cut in some cases just to boost someone else’s hours, it appears to be blatant case of favouritism, our hours have been cut to the level of not making it worth our staying for this last month. And now I’m being asked to cover tasks that I have not been trained for, which was a real big deal in the spring but obviously isn’t nearly as important now. It actually now feels like they just wanted one more four week rental from this undesirable site, so do not offer to work after labour day if applying for a position, as they certainly don’t appear to want help after that point.

We were supplied some uniforms, along with two-way radios, the uniforms consisted of two golf shirts and a sweat shirt, a name tag and a ball cap. There are no breaks on pricing on the laundry machines ($2.50 to wash or dry), or on items in the store, apparently there is free firewood available, but we did not take advantage of that perk. We did get two vouchers for six months worth of internet, while a nice gesture, was not a great value considering the quality of the internet service, there is good cellular coverage in the area, so I would recommend using your own hub as the vouchers are per device and we have a lot of devices. All items are to be returned on departure, which make some sense, but does that mean that next years staff, just get left overs? This could be a whole new level of being cheap, and a first for us, not that we particularly would want any of the used clothing anyway.

Let me take a moment and relay what we discovered about membership parks, I guess we were naïve about membership parks, we expected because of the membership their would be some level of respect of the park, maybe even some level of ownership. we were so very wrong, we found a lot of members to be difficult to work with, overly demanding, and most have a sense of entitlement, to the level of verbally abusing staff when they don’t get their way. It has certainly has been a unwelcoming group, and an eye opening experience for us. to the level that we will steer clear of any membership park in the future. Holiday Trails tagline is “living the dream” in our case it was closer to a nightmare!

Blog 445

Week nineteen @ CMR

Sunday September 18th, 2022: and it’s 7am, today is my split shift, and as I said last week I’m going to try the 8am to 2pm version this time, as the 10am to 4pm seemed to drag so bad last time. So a couple of fried eggs and a mug of coffee to go and I was out the door just before eight. Miss Laurie is working this morning in the gardens, her last official day as the gardener, as they have taken her hours and given them to someone else.

So as on any normal day shift I start by unlocking the Clubhouse and the Laundry, then heading to the pool, there will be no vacuuming today as the pool officially closes guests at noon today, then they open the pool from 1 till 3 for a dog swim. Again it doesn’t have to make sense to actually happen here.

This morning one of my tasks was preparing the old dump truck to be sold off (I assume for scrape), so I had to remove the water tanks that are used for dust control, Larry was helping me but he got called away so I completed the task myself, it wasn’t difficult because I used the forks on the tractor to pick them out of the back of the truck, it just meant jumping on and off of the tractor numerous times to check my positioning and alignment. After that task I removed a trailer ball that was on the newer dump truck, it was located in the middle of the dump box so was a problem when trying to dump any load, then we moved on to the cleaning of sites, which pretty much closed out the morning.

After lunch we all pretty much just stood around watching the dogs in the pool, I did clean the campsite of our only late check out guest today, then headed back to the coach to finish off last weeks blog and get this weeks blog started, the afternoon was spent napping in the recliner before preparing for the second part of the shift, and while maybe some better it was still a crappy shift, thankfully it is also my last split shift.

As I made it back to the coach shortly after nine o’clock I now have only four shifts left, two afternoon shifts and two day shifts. It was nice to be in the warmth, and go to bed at the regular time.

Monday September 19th, 2022: well some of the Buchanan’s were up early this morning, Miss Laurie got up at 2am this morning to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, I personally didn’t get up with her, having just finished a couple of afternoon shifts I felt sleep was more important to me right now, but I did watch some of the coverage when I got up at 6:30. As a Canadian the monarchy has always been the head of our state, the figure head as you would, the monarchy has been on our money as long as I can remember and the queen has been in that position almost all of my life, so it is with great sadness that we watch the procedures.

It is maybe with less enthusiasm that we look ahead to the new head of state King Charles III, as he is probably best known for marrying then cheating on princess Dianna. Not the normal expectations one would have for someone in that position, so the next few years will be a serious test for the monarchy and the common wealth, as I think the death of the Queen may be the trigger for a number of countries to become a republic’s, I guess we will see as time moves on.

Speaking of time marching on, I’m off shift today, I usually work a day shift on Mondays, but I guess that everyone is on shift tomorrow for the covering of the swimming pool. So today I’m going to finish some things up in the basement and start putting away items like our flag pole, and the antigravity chairs, while Miss Laurie works in the office today. But the basement work took a nasty turn when I discovered that the water tank was dripping again, I had left it full of water since the last repair nearly a month ago, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement, with just over a week before our departure for over two months on the move.

So I have cleared out much of the basement and removed the failed patch, and now have a heater running in the basement to dry things up so that I can hopefully re-attempt to stop this ongoing leak.

Tuesday September 20th, 2022: I roll out of bed shortly after six o’clock, there was one of those alerts again last night, and again the alert was almost 12 hours and the kidnapping event had began, the child had been taken by his mother. As with most of these alerts it is usually children being taken by the other parent, just another example of the state of today’s society. And if I sound bitter about being woken up in the middle of the night, it is because I am.

So I’m on a day shift today, and as I said earlier, there are four of the maintenance crew on shift today, and I think the swimming pool is the cause for all hands on deck. But once more I’m totally wrong, we did a bit of work at the pool but had to wait for a water report to know what chemicals to add for the winter season. So I spent the day working on site clean-up, Cortney was on trimming detail while Bruce and Larry worked on Septic extensions. After site cleanup, I spent a couple of hours just picking up garbage where people just throw it into the wooded areas, and of course cigarette butts left for everyone to enjoy.

I finished the day by driving the dump truck while Bruce loaded rocks from some of this springs campsite upgrades, a pretty easy way to end the day, only three shifts left! Apparently there will be no more free mini golf, because the kids were caught stealing all the golf balls, that says a lot about the parents, to not have their children at least return them, let alone not apologize for stealing them in the first place. But that is why everything has to have a padlock on it here in the park, truly a sad comment on today society, I will not miss this mindset, where almost everyone is thief, and acts like this just prove it over and over, as things go missing everyday!

We barbequed a steak for dinner, before visiting with Karen and Rob our closest neighbours here in the park, Karen works in the office while Rob works out of the park, it was a nice evening sitting around an actual fire as the campfire ban was lifted today at noon, but we were back in the coach shortly after eight as the evening was cooling off quickly.

Wednesday September 21st, 2022: and I was up at six thirty this morning, we have a busy day planned today, with a trip to the Victoria area. We are planning on heading out at nine thirty, so have some time just to enjoy the morning sunshine. Breakfast this morning can only be described as gourmet, bacon & tomato on toasted cheese bread, makes my mouth water all over again just typing it …. Yummmm!

So we are going to explore Butchart Gardens today, it has been a tough sell, because as much as Miss Laurie loves gardens, the admission price of $38 per adult seemed a little rich to her. But I knew how great it was the last time I visited it some fifty years ago, and once inside even Laurie was impressed, two hundred and fifty photos worth of impressed. On her studying she had decided that a couple of hours would be enough time but after three we had not quite seen it all.

As we drove out of Butchart Gardens we are headed to downtown Victoria, as today is the day Miss Laurie picks up her new passport, and today there was no line up, so it was a walk-in and was back out, and that normally just doesn’t happen at any government office, so we just grabbed a quick lunch at the food court before heading to a Costco before heading back to the coach. Fuel prices have jumped 10¢ a litre today, the excuse it that a refinery in Washington state is shut down for maintenance, so I assume that the price hike is just the usual price gouging by the oil companies, there is no talk of shortages at stations, no just up to 20¢ per litre more in the next week, can you say GREED!

So we got back to the coach at around 5:30, and shortly after Miss Laurie received a text invitation to visit with Corrine, Kathy, and Mary as they are leaving on vacation early tomorrow morning, and will not be back till after we have left the park. But I ended up repairing a ground issue on their boat trailer, I’m going to assume it was just a coincidence and not the reason for the invite. Actually it was a reasonably pleasant visit and we were invited back if we were coming back to the area, it felt genuine, but I don’t think we will be back to Vancouver Island anytime soon.

Thursday September 22nd, 2022: it was after seven o’clock when we got out of bed today, it was another chilly night, so I had set the space heater to 20°C (68°F) because when I got to the coach last night, I had a bit of a chill from sitting outside. This morning’s breakfast was a spinach and feta omelet while we relax and I work on the blogs and Miss Laurie is working on her photos from yesterday, but as I see its closing in on noon I’m thinking it may be time to get dressed and get to work.

So attempt number, I really have lost count on the freshwater tank repair, but the last repair lasted over a month, so I’m making close to the same repair, with more cure time before testing, in fact I’m not going to test until next week. Our Clam got packed up today and now fits into the spot where the old Clam used to fit, it was a tight fit but it is packed away for the next few months. While waiting for sealant on the tank repair to set up, I washed the toad, and took time to mount the roof racks as well as the bike rack. We are suppose to get some rain tomorrow (30% chance), so I have almost everything packed up into the basement in preparation, so not likely we will get any rain at all.

We barbequed sausage for dinner tonight, I still need to barbeque a number of items for meals on the road, so I can get the barbeque cleaned up and tucked into the basement. After catching up on the news we watched a couple of YouTube videos, before watching the finale of the America’s Got Talent, followed by the results show.

Friday September 23rd, 2022: well it’s six o’clock when I roll out of bed to be greeted by Mister Sam who was looking for his morning treats, yes he not only has his bowl of kibble, he is also on his morning treats, and I’m also granted some kitty lap time. I have an afternoon shift to day, the second last one, and while I can not say I’m looking forward to the shift, I’m looking forward to the end of these shifts. With the campfire ban now lifted I could have a number of firewood deliveries, before settling into weekend warrior patrol, it is to be cooler tonight as a low pressure cell brings some rain to the northern mainland, but we will see as the day unfolds.

Well lets just call today a day off, I accomplished nothing, oh I worked on the blog a wee bit, but in reality, it was just a lazy day. I did get dressed around noon, but I never left the coach until it was time to start my shift, I guess we all need days like this, but it was chilly, and while not raining it was a damp misty day, the perfect day to do nothing.

Well my lazy day ended at a few minuets to four as I headed out the door for my afternoon shift, todays tasks were simple enough, service a couple of Yamaha golf carts, so spark plugs, air & fuel filters, change the oil and Bobs your uncle. Of course that was too simple and easy for a afternoon shift, so my next task was to figure out why the Gem EV cart was quitting, you could be driving along and it would just stop driving, not a very desirable characteristic in a cart. So my task was to find out why? Now I will be the first to admit I was never the best mechanic at electrical diagnoses, but having learnt so much at the school of hard knocks, I’m much better today, and I have learnt that a good volt-meter can be worth it’s weight in gold if you take the time to read what it is telling you.

So the task was handed over with the comment that it seemed like a relay was not staying energized, and the good news is that that statement was true, it was also suggested that there was a second relay if I wanted to try it, I declined, and said I would diagnose the cause, just leave it with me. So first I discovered that the relay is designed to be deenergized at 68.5 volts, with 72 volts of batteries that seemed to make sense (at least to me). My first voltage reading was 75.4 volts again that seemed to be within what I would expect from 6 batteries at 12.8 volts each when fully charged (6 X 12.8 = 76.8). So now I went looking for a condition that could drop the battery voltage to (68.5 ÷ 6 = 11.42) under 11.5 volts each would mean that all batteries would have to be at less that 50% charged. Because since my recent introduction to solar I now know that a fully charger lead acid 12 volt battery is fully charged at approx. 12.8 volts and only 50 charged at 12.0 volts. And I knew that was not possible so I took my volt meter and went to work, I added a bit of a draw to the system and found the voltage dropped drastically very quickly, and after a few moment of checking I found that one battery was not holding it’s charge and was dropping to under 7 volts. So (72 – 5 = 67) if the voltage drop was that great it was most likely enough to trigger the system to shut down, conclusion of my diagnoses the cart needs new batteries or at least one.

The balance of my night was very quiet, although I discovered that some one had stolen the LED flood lights that were used to illuminate the main entrance sign, and when I reported it to my supervisor, apparently they had been stolen earlier in the week. It is scary how everything is stolen all the time, golf balls from the mini putt, flood lights, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I did my final walk around and was back to the coach around 11:30.

Saturday September 24th, 2022: and I was woken by Mister Sam, trying to get someone out of bed for his morning treats, it was seven o’clock so it was most likely time anyway. We caught up on the news, Miss Laurie prepared a cheese & mushroom omelet, and decided to get some supplies so headed off to Walmart. I needed to get some things done around the coach, like exercising the generator, just a little ten minuets of run time, I removed the sunshades from the front windows, and started to wash the left side of the coach. I also had to reset the internet system, I’m not sure what happened but when I finished my shift evening the router was showing an internet failure, I tried to reset it last night but it was dark, and I was tired, so I just decided to let it slide till this morning. After shutting both the hub and the router down and restarting them everything is back up and running.

Just around noon I was in the coach, catching up on this blog when Miss Laurie returned from Walmart and prepared some lunch, this afternoon will be the big final cook off day as we prepare for travelling with no barbeque, oh we have a barbeque but it is not often we get it out unless we are setting up for a week or more. With the amount of travel this fall that practice may change, only time will tell.

BURGERS!!!

Well it is after three o’clock, the cook off is complete, four chops, four sausage, and ten burgers. That should get us through till we cross the border on the eighth of October, so I’m now preparing for my last afternoon shift of the season, I’m thinking it could be a bit of a lazy shift, cause I gotta tell you I’m pretty tired of being the keeper of the weekend warriors, the drunken or high campers that just come here to act like idiots. And we will see what tasks they have on my list for the night.

Service golf carts, was all that was on my list tonight, so I was able to complete three Yamaha carts, plugs, air & fuel filters as well as an oil change. I assisted Bruce change out a 50 amp breaker for his trailer, he was only getting power on one leg of the breaker, and it turned out to be a defective breaker. The balance of my evening was spent with lock ups, and security rounds, there are a number of campers in the park, but it seemed quiet, so I made it back to the coach shortly after eleven o’clock, and I decided to complete this blog before turning in for the evening. Only one more day shift for me and three shifts for Miss Laurie!

Packing, Packing, Packing – Countdown 4 days!

blog 446

day 1818