How to be a Camp Host in Talkeetna, Alaska… 04/15- 09/01/17

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So, the sign spelling mix up was addressed right away…

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And when June came around, Tracey and I were ready to tackle the #CampHostJob… We requested a sign stating the quiet hours just so everyone staying here knew the main rule was ‘just be courteous to others…’

I had to be careful about how I came across in Talkeetna as a #CampHost… I started discussing rules at #TheDenaliBrewingCompany bar and one of the regulars got a little perturbed… He didn’t like that I was trying to regulate a #campground in a town that doesn’t like being told what they can and can’t do…

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Now, I could have taken offense to this and that was my initial reaction… but then I stepped back and looked at it from his point of view… When I did that, I realized I was the one in the wrong and quickly tried to change my rhetoric…

Here I am folks, an outsider coming into their little town, imposing rules on their camping area… Who the fuck do I think I am? I don’t blame this certain #fisherman gentleman for getting angry with me… How arrogant of me to come in and start stating how I am going to implement rules in their town when I should be researching their way of doing things and trying to work with them…

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And their main rule is pretty simple… They try not to have any rules!

I was very happy that I learned that valuable lesson during my first days in Talkeetna because that lesson is the most important one out here… These people just want to be left alone! They have a great little town that works and they don’t want any #authority coming in and trying to change their way of doing things… So, my approach after this encounter and after days of mulling it over in my head, was to state that I am going to make sure everyone pays when they #camp because that was what I was hired to do…

Sounds a lot less intrusive and sounds like I’m just doing my job… I knew then that I was going to learn a lot up here… Not only about the way they do things but a lesson in patience and respect… I learned very quickly that you can either be apart of this precious town or you can be a thorn in their side…

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But we had to implement a few rules just so the paying campers themselves would have a nice, quiet stay…

Our first major problem was #RV’s… Rv’s would come and park in the #CampingAreas… I would constantly have to go over to sites and tell people they can’t park there… It really sucks because a lot of people get confrontational due to there not being a lot of options in Talkeetna to park your RV… but that also doesn’t give you the excuse to park in some of the most valuable real estate in #Talkeetna and that’s along the #TalkeetnaRiver…

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So, we got Mark to put “NO RV’s” signs at every single campsite, which eliminated the problem right away… And if someone had a small RV, I tried to find them some parking on the street, at a dead end, where they could also enjoy one of our camping spots… Tracey and I were determined to get all of the payments and make this a pleasurable place where people would want to come back and camp in the future… So, if we could find a way to accommodate, we did…

So, after a hard day of work at The Denali Brewing Company, I would get out at around 6pm… I would go home, toke and relax for a couple of hours… I liked to check the sites later in the evening, so I didn’t have to come back out for late arrivals… Tracey would work some evenings, so I was basically in charge of collecting the money every night… Tracey would always check the toilet paper before she went to work, during the daily peak hours..

So lets get to it, folks!

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HOW TO BE A TALKEETNA RIVER PARK CAMP HOST: TRAINING SEMINAR

(just imagine a enthusiastic, robotic, monotone voice while reading this)

Meet #TheTravelingMac (Daniel), our Talkeetna River Park Camp Host…

Daniel has just got done with a hard days work at #TheTwisterCreekPub… But before he can relax and turn in for the evening, he has to complete his #CampHost duties…

STEP ONE: FIND THE UTILITY CLOSET…

The utility closet is where the camp host gets his supplies… Without the camp host’s supplies, Camp Host Daniel can’t clean the bathrooms or collect money…

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STEP TWO: REFILL TOILET PAPER

The camp host, Daniel, grabs as many rolls of toilet paper he needs and then heads over to the bathrooms, which are on the opposite side of the utility closet…

Daniel first must unlock the toilet paper roll to get the old, empty rolls off…

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Then Daniel unwraps the new toilet paper and places them on the now vacant holders…

He makes sure to lock the toilet paper back onto the rollers or selfish little campers will steal it all for themselves…

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STEP THREE: MAKE YOUR WAY OVER TO THE MONEY COLLECTION BOX

Daniel must make sure all of the campers who are on site have paid for the evening… But to do this correctly, Daniel must first know how the campers are supposed to pay… So, he will play the customer, just to show you the payment method works…

A) Camper Dan first chooses the campsite he wants and writes down the number of the campsite on a piece of paper…

B) Then he makes his way over to the large, standing money collection box, which is located under the campground’s welcome sign…

C) He then takes an empty, new envelope from the front, hanging box… which is attached to the front of the money collection box…

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D) He then, with the provided pen, fills out the appropriate information on the front of the campsite envelope… including first and last name, site number, how many days staying, listed dates staying, license plate number, how many people and how much money you are putting in the envelope…

E) Don’t forget Camp Host Daniel sells firewood for $5 a bundle… If Camper Dan wants firewood, he just indicates how many bundles and puts the correct amount of money in the envelope and Camp Host Daniel will bring it to his campsite later…

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F) Then Camper Dan places the correct amount of money in the envelope and licks it sealed…

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E) Don’t forget to tear off your receipt Camper Dan… (keep it because you will need it later…)

F) Then he deposits the envelope in the slot provided on the front of the money collection box…

G) Finally Camper Dan takes his receipt and either places it on his car windshield or hangs it on the numbered campsite post where indicated…

IT’S THAT SIMPLE FOLKS!

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But in a world that lacks truth and honesty, unfortunately your friendly camp host has to check your site to make sure you have paid… And if the customer has followed the instructions correctly, they will not have to even see or talk to the camp host during their stay… Unless they have a question or problem, of course…

STEP FOUR: RECORD CUSTOMER INFORMATION AT CAMPSITES

It’s very important that you match up the correct envelopes to the correct sites… Unfortunately customers hardly ever provide all of the information you need… So Daniel brings a pen and paper with him, so he can write down all he needs to locate their payment when he gets back to the money collection box…

Daniel checks the car windshield of the customers first, searching for the pertinent information he needs…. And sometimes, if the campgrounds are full, Daniel will take a few notes off of the envelopes while he is at the money collection box… before he heads over to the campsites, alleviating any future confusion for himself…

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If the car windshield doesn’t have a receipt then Daniel checks the campsite post… There he copies down all of the information on the envelope he needs… The permanent printed numbers in bold on the receipt is the most important info he needs…  This allows Camp Host Daniel to match up the envelopes with the receipts when he gets back… All of the customer’s information should be written down also, just so he can cross reference, if needed…

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The most important information to record is the site number…  How many days they are staying… the receipt number… and the customer’s license plate number, if available…

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Also, while collecting money, camp host Dan should keep an eye out for any littering or rules being ignored… If anyone decides to argue with Daniel about the rules, he can conveniently and politely point to the list of rules which are posted at every single campsite for the customer to read… provided by the town of Talkeetna…

If they still decide to argue then Daniel can politely tell them that the campground’s manager will be here in the morning or give them the phone number to call and complain… No need to get into any unwanted confrontations… You have to live with these people, so peace is always the best answer…

STEP FIVE: CHECK ALL CUSTOMER INFORMATION BACK AT THE PAYMENT BOX

So, now Camp Host Dan has all of the information written down… Now it’s time to check if everyone has actually paid…

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But first Daniel has to get into this very secure payment box…

First Daniel removes the lock which is hidden… The same keyring that gets him into he utility closet also holds this important key…

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Then Daniel carefully lifts the heavy metal box out of its casing, using the handle provided… (The sound of the metal grinding on metal sounds like a witch being boiled in water… lol!)

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Then Daniel carefully lays the box on its side…

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So he can carefully flip it over… Underneath the box is a sliding removable bottom…

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Daniel slides the door open and reaches in to grab all of the envelopes inside…

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He then removes all of the envelopes and pulls out his recently recorded site information…

Daniel then cross references the information on the customer’s envelope…

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with his own recorded information… Checking the money in the envelopes, making sure everyone has paid…

This usually takes one to two hours, every night, depending on how busy it is… Once we got a good system created, it was a chore yet it was also fun… I would hear all kinds of different stories from different campers… I even sat and smoked with some flight attendants one night… I had to be really careful about how I did that… Lol!

And one guy, who was an Alaskan resident, bought me a joint to apologize for being really loud one night… If you want forgiveness from The Traveling Mac, that is a sure way to receive it! Lol!

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And almost every night, while checking the sites, this little rascal would be out searching for acorns and nuts…

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With all of the extra daylight up here, the animals seem like they are on crack or something… lol!

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Especially this squirely little S.O.B…

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I would be checking the campsites and this little guy would come rushing down the tree and charge right at me… Then he would run the other direction when I headed towards him… Running up a tree, almost like he is teasing me to follow…

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I know folks, it’s just a squirrel… big deal… But I had never run into such a confident, trusting squirrel before…When I would follow him over to a tree, I could get right up close to him to take pictures…You would think he would retreat but what he would do is face me and give the impression that he was going to leap onto me…

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It was kind of scary at first but he was just playing with me while being a little territorial… When I mentioned the squirrely squirrels at work, everyone would just look at me like I had two heads… lol… they are not so impressed with the squiurrels up here, I guess… I know they are rodents and are a pain in the ass but what a cute creature with all kinds of personality…

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So folks, after a hard day at work and the campsites were all checked, I would make my way back to #TheMillenniumFalcon for the evening… Some nights I would  head over to the River for a nice soothing meditative experience… No matter what worries were plaguing me that day, that river would make them all go away…

Tracey and I were learning a lot out here… We had never worked at a #brewery before and had never been subjected to such an odd, little private town… It was exciting learning how this town did things differently and it taught me that sometimes you need to listen more and dictate less… lol…

But that’s everyone’s life… A series of lessons learned through experiences… The only difference is every 6 months or so, Tracey and I have to adapt to a whole new state, town and the people in it…

The Traveling Mac is slowly learning patience through this journey, as he is taught to adjust to others around him instead of trying to force them to adjust to him… It’s funny how life guides you to the lessons you need to learn… If you just listen, you will learn…

Tell the Traveling Mac what you think... be nice now...

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