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Camp Host, Park Host

introduction pictureBecome a Virginia State Parks Camp Host or Park Host. It's one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and Virginia's outdoors. Camp for free for from 30 to 60 days at any of 19 participating parks across the state in exchange for volunteer services.

Looking to visit and explore Virginia? Want to stay near friends or family somewhere in the state? Interested in learning new skills or trying a new outdoors experience? Becoming a Virginia State Parks Camp Host or Park Host is one of the easiest, most exciting ways to do these things and more.

Hosts receive

  • Campsite and pet fees waived for the duration of the host's assignment
  • Free or reduced fees for usage of park offerings, including boating, swimming and rentals, in certain parks. (Check with park staff: - not all sites offer this benefit.)
  • Hosts are eligible for seven nights of camping after completing one 30-day assignment. Hosts who complete two or more 30-day assignments in the same season are eligible for 14 nights of camping or seven nights in a cabin. The cabin benefit is offered only to hosts who serve two or more months in one season. Cabin benefits must be claimed during off-season.
  • We use the terms assignments and seasons and not years because in some parks, hosts work in two calendar years on one assignment. For example, (A volunteer may host from Nov. 7, 2008, through Jan. 30, 2009, which would count as one assignment.)
  • Camping and cabin benefits earned must be used prior to Memorial Day weekend or after Labor Day. They cannot be used during prime season.
  • Benefits earned are subject to availability of the given facility.
  • Benefits earned are for the use of the host only and must be used in their entirety in one reservation (or, in the case of camping, seven-night increments). Any portion of a week used counts as the use of a seven-night benefit,

Camp Host responsibilities

  • introduction pictureGreet campers, answer their questions and orient them to park and region
  • Set example for others by keeping host site clean and neat
  • Be accessible to campers for comments and complaints
  • Understand and explain - not enforce - park rules and regulations to campers
  • Help maintain campground - pick up litter, clean campsites after guests check out, replenish restroom supplies and assist in keeping the bathhouses clean
  • Check windshields for passes to ensure park fees are paid
  • Contact park staff and other law enforcement personnel about emergencies
  • Other projects and assignments based on park needs and hosts' skills and interests
  • Primarily, park staff cleans bathhouses. The staff is responsible for thoroughly sanitizing bathhouses and dealing with "biohazard issues." Camp Hosts regularly sweep floors, pick up debris, check on toilet paper, replenish supplies, keep up the general appearance of the building and grounds, and notify park staff about major cleaning issues. Customer surveys show that clean bathhouses are important to visitors. Park staff will be glad to train those wishing to help with such additional work in this important aspect of park operations.

Park Host responsibilities

  • Help with office and computer work
  • Staff contact station or visitor center both as needed
  • Perform light maintenance and repair work
  • Paint
  • Help with small construction projects
  • Conduct historical research
  • Help with educational programs
  • Other projects and assignments based on site needs and hosts' skills and interests

How hosts are selected

Hosts are selected on a first-come, first-served basis; they must provide their own RV or camping equipment. An extra vehicle is strongly recommended for personal transportation. Selection criteria include experience in camping, prior campground or park host service, working with the public, length of time willing to be hosts and how well skills match park needs. No salary or stipend is provided.

Successful applicants are required to sign an agreement stating their park-specific duties, benefits, obligations and termination conditions.

Hosts are restricted to two calendar months - 60 days - in each park. Hosts may serve in other parks during a calendar year, but stays in each are also limited to two months.


Participating parks


bear creek lake state parkBear Creek Lake State Park - Camp Host. Located in Cumberland State Forest in central Virginia and less than an hour west of Richmond. Activities center on a 40-acre lake, which features a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals and swimming beach. Other offerings include an archery range, picnicking, bike rentals, playgrounds and hiking. Rental cabins. 53 campsites. One Camp Host position; March-November. 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water and electric hookups. Maximum RV length 35 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Bear Creek Lake. (804) 492-4410, e-mail bearcreek@dcr.virginia.gov.


bell isle state parkBelle Isle State Park - Camp Host. With 740 acres, seven miles of shoreline on the Northern Neck’s Rappahannock River, and access to Mulberry and Deep creeks, visitors can explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with agricultural fields and upland forests. Belle Isle offers picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, a motor boat launch, overnight lodging at the Bel Air Mansion and the Bel Air Guest House, bicycle, canoe and motorboat rentals, guided canoe trips, a car-top launch area, restrooms, a universal access playground, a handicap accessible boardwalk and fishing pier, and educational interpretive programs. Thirty campsites (water and 50-amp electric to all sites), one camp host (host site includes water, electric and sewer), with max length 55 feet; March - November, 30-day min. and 60-day max. Bathhouse with Laundromat. View Camp Host opportunities at Belle Isle. (804) 462-0162, e-mail belleisle@dcr.virginia.gov.


cjippokes plantation state parkChippokes Plantation State Park - Camp Host, Park Host. Near Surry, Va., Chippokes Plantation has been a working farm since 1619. The park has tours of its antebellum mansion and formal gardens; it hosts a museum of antique farm and forestry equipment. Other features include a swimming pool, visitor center, interpretive programs, playgrounds, hiking, biking, horseback riding and picnicking. Rental cottages. 33 campsites. One Camp Host and one Park Host; March-November. 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups for Camp Host, water and electric for Park Host. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Chippokes Plantation. (757) 294-3728, e-mail chippokes@dcr.virginia.gov.


claytor lake state parkClaytor Lake State Park - Camp Host. Just off Interstate 81 near Dublin, Va., this Blue Ridge park is ideal for boating, swimming, hiking, picnicking and fishing. It has a marina and visitor center. Rental cabins. 110 campsites. Four camp host positions; March-November. 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 30-40 feet, depending on assignment. View Camp Host opportunities at Claytor Lake. (540) 643-2500, e-mail claytorlake@dcr.virginia.gov.


douthat state park Douthat State Park - Camp Host. Douthat is in the Shenandoah region and listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the role its design played in the development of parks nationwide. It is one of the six original CCC parks. Offerings include interpretive programs, a conference facility, stream fishing, a 50-acre lake stocked with trout, a swimming beach, boat and bicycle rentals, a gift shop, a camp store, hiking and biking trails, and a restaurant. Rental cabins. 87 campsites, group camping. Three camp host positions April through October; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups at Whispering Pines campground; water and electric hookups at other two campsites. Maximum RV length is 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Douthat. (540) 862-8100, e-mail douthat@dcr.virginia.gov.


fairy stone state park Fairy Stone State Park - Camp Host, Park Host. Just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and adjoining Philpott Reservoir, this park is home to the lucky fairy stones. Offerings include a 168-acre lake, conference center, hiking trails, lake swimming, boat rentals, picnicking and playgrounds. Cabin rentals. 57 campsites, group camping. One camp host position; March-November. 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 35 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Fairy Stone. (276) 930-3927, e-mail fairystone@dcr.virginia.gov.


animated, first landing state parkFirst Landing State Park - Camp Host. Located on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, this park includes features lagoons, cypress trees and rare plants. Hiking, kayaking, picnicking, boat ramps and biking are available as is a swimming beach on the bay. 218 campsites, including group camping. Three camp host positions from May-October; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 40-45 feet, depending on assignment. View Camp Host opportunities at First Landing. (757) 412-2333, e-mail firstlanding@dcr.virginia.gov.


grayson highlands state park Grayson Highlands State Park - Camp Host, Park Host, Retail Host. This park is near Mount Rogers and White Top Mountain, Virginia’s two highest peaks. Features include visitor center, hiking trails, horse trails, scenic vistas, wildlife viewing, elevations above 4,000 feet and a historic farm area. 165 campsites, including horse camping area and group camping. Four host positions: a regular camp host, a camp host for horse camping, a general park host and a retail park host, May-October. Water and electric for retail host position; water, electric and sewer for camp hosts and park host. Maximum RV length 40-50 feet, depending on assignment. View Camp Host opportunities at Grayson Highlands. (276) 579-7092, e-mail graysonhighlands@dcr.virginia.gov.


holliday lake state park Holliday Lake State Park- Camp Host. Deep in the heart of the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest, near historic Appomattox, Holliday Lake offers fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, equestrian trails, picnicking, interpretive programs, playgrounds and boat rentals. 36 campsites one group camp and a bunkhouse. One camp host position, March - November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 40 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Holliday Lake. (434) 248-6308, e-mail hollidaylake@dcr.virginia.gov.


hungry mother park Hungry Mother State Park - Camp Host. This park is a family favorite located in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. It is an original CCC parks and features a 108-acre lake, swimming beach, boat rentals, boat launch, fishing pier, visitor center, conference center, hiking, biking and restaurant. 118 campsites. Two camp host positions, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 35-45 feet, depending on assignment. View Camp Host opportunities at Hungry Mother. (276) 781-7400, e-mail hungrymother@dcr.virginia.gov.


james river state parkJames River State Park - Camp Host. In Buckingham County, James River offers hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. Other features include a visitor center, picnicking, boat launches, equestrian camping and horse trails. 35 campsites, group camping. One camp host position, March - November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water sewer and electric hookups. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at James River. (434) 933-4355, e-mail jamesriver@dcr.virginia.gov.


kiptopeke state park Kiptopeke State Park - Camp Host, Concessions Host, Maintenance Host. Near Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Kiptopeke offers recreational access to the Chesapeake Bay. The park offers birding, swimming, a boat ramp, salt-water fishing, a lit fishing pier, picnicking, hiking and a playground. 149 campsites. Three host positions: a regular camp host, a park host for concessions and a park host for maintenance, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Kiptopeke. (757) 331-2267, e-mail kiptopeke@dcr.virginia.gov.


lake anna state park Lake Anna State Park - Camp Host. The park features a swimming beach on one of Virginia’s most popular lakes, a fishing pond for children and people with disabilities, a bathhouse-concessions complex, boat launch facilities, pontoon boat rides, picnicking and boat rentals. With more than 13 miles of trails, the park allows for plenty of hiking, biking and horseback riding. Visitor center exhibits trace the history of gold mining in the area and highlight the park’s natural features. Nature programs and panning for gold are popular, and the park offers guided tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine site. 51 campsites, six camping cabins, one camp host position, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, sewer and electric hookups. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Lake Anna. (540) 854-5503, e-maillakeanna@dcr.virginia.gov.


natural tunnle state park Natural Tunnel State Park - Camp Host. The Natural Tunnel, near Duffield, Va., is an 850-foot long tunnel as high as a 10-story building and has been called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Trains still use the tunnel. The park features a swimming pool, picnic area, chair lift to the tunnel floor, visitor center, pioneer cabin, hiking, biking, canoeing, caving and conference center. 34 campsites, group camping. One camp host position, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Natural Tunnel. (276) 940-2674, e-mail naturaltunnel@dcr.virginia.gov.


occoneechee state park Occoneechee State Park - Camp Host. This park is named for the Native Americans who lived on its land for hundreds of years. The park is on Buggs Island Lake. The park offers fishing, boating, a boat launch, picnicking, an amphitheatre, a playground, boat and water ski rentals, hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. 88 campsites. Two camp host positions, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 36 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Occoneechee. (434) 374-2210, e-mail occoneechee@dcr.virginia.gov.


pocahontas state park Pocahontas State Park - Camp Host. Just 20 miles from Richmond, this park offers picnicking, fishing, hiking, biking, interpretive programs, an aqua center and boat rentals. One of Virginia’s six original CCC parks, Pocahontas is home to one of America’s few CCC museums. Rental cabins. 65 campsites. Two camp host positions, March-November; 30-days min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 40 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Pocahontas. (804) 796-4255, e-mail pocahontas@dcr.virginia.gov.


Shenandoah River (Raymond R. "Andy" Guest, Jr.) State Park - This 1604-acre park has 5.6 miles of river frontage along the south fork of the Shenandoah River. The park is popular with families, anglers, and canoeists. It offers picnicking, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback trails, and a car-top boat launch. Rental cabins. The park also has a primitive group site, 10 standard tent canoe-in or walk-in sites, and an RV campground with 33 electric and water sites. One camp host position, year-round, 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. Maximum RV length 60 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Shenandoah River. (540) 622-6840, email shenandoah@dcr.virginia.gov.


smith mountain lake state parkSmith Mountain Lake State Park - Camp Host (primitive camping sites only). Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County is Virginia’s second largest freshwater lake; the park is a water enthusiast’s paradise. The park offers swimming, boat rentals, a boat ramp, a fishing pier, hiking trails, picnicking, a visitor center, an amphitheatre and special programs. There’s also a golf course nearby. Rental cabins. 50 campsites, 25 of which are primitive. One camp host position, March -October; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, electric and sewer hookups. 50 amp service. Maximum RV length 50 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Smith Mountain Lake. (540) 297-6066, e-mail smlake@dcr.virginia.gov.


animated, staunton river state park Staunton River State Park- Camp Host. On the shoreline of Buggs Island Lake, this park is in south-central Virginia. It offers freshwater fishing, a large swimming pool, tennis and volleyball courts, a boat launch, picnic shelters, hiking and multi-use trails, and special programs. It’s one of Virginia’s six original CCC parks. Rental cabins. 48 campsites. One camp host position; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water and electric hookups. Maximum RV length 35 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Staunton River. (434) 572-3694, e-mail stauntonriver@dcr.virginia.gov.


twin lakes state park Twin Lakes State Park - Camp Host. This historic park is in the heart of central Virginia and offers swimming, fishing, boating, lakefront picnicking, hiking, biking and a conference center. Rental cabins. 33 campsites. One camp host position, March-November; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, sewer and electric hookups. Maximum RV length 50 feet; 50-amp hookup available. View Camp Host opportunities at Twin Lakes. (434) 392-3435, e-mail twinlakes@dcr.virginia.gov.


westmoreland state park Westmoreland State Park - Camp Host, Park Host. Nestled on the Potomac River’s Northern Neck, this park’s facilities and activities include an Olympic size swimming pool, boat launch, visitor center, conference center, docking, fishing pier, boat rentals, trails and excellent bird watching. It’s one of Virginia’s six original CCC parks. Rental cabins. 133 campsites. One camp host position and one park host position; 30-day min. and 60-day max. Water, sewer and 30-amp electric hookups for camp host, water and electric for park host. Maximum RV length is 38 feet. View Camp Host opportunities at Westmoreland. Call (804) 493-0216 or e-mail westmoreland@dcr.virginia.gov.

Other volunteer opportunities

closing pictureOther short-term volunteer opportunities abound at Virginia State Parks. Call now to find out how you and your family, co-workers, church group or civic organization can be more involved.

Interested volunteers should contact DCR's Host Program field coordinator at 804-887-8930 or e-mail VSPcamphost@dcr.virginia.gov. for more information; click here to download an application form. Selection will be made based on a phone interview and reference checks, including a criminal history background check.