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!