Beware Massachusetts DCR Camp Hosting

by julie
(boston ma)

I signed on to be a camp host at Harold Parker State Forest late in the 'hiring' season; considering that most host camper positions are filled before the camping season opens, I should have been suspicious that the job was still open.

I started when my application came through six full weeks after it went into HQ; cleaning two bath houses twice daily was fine until the holiday weekend when two families well known to staff came for their two weeks.
Staff warned me of these families as well as telling me stories of two previous host campers who had been deemed PIAs (pains in the ___) and were the last host campers they'd had.

The common denominator in this story is the staff:

I became fully aware of problems among the staff and was immediately subjected to bizarre attention by the two rangers assigned to the park. They spread rumors that I was a large scale drug dealer (I was very recent ex-military in excellent standing) and approached me with odd demands such as not using ground-picked firewood, as it was reserved exclusively for headquarter's use in the winter, and I was not to socialize with other campers. That seemed strange.

Both admitted to spreading the rumors and one apologized - the other, more aggressive in her harassment, was told to apologize, but I decided to have no further contact with them and went to their superiors. Her schedule was changed so she would be supervised by the head of the park.

When the staff supervisor tried to teach me how to clean a bathroom (ex-army, remember?), I handed in my keys and quit as host camper. That night they unceremoniously unplugged my rig at ten at night, without warning, blowing out a good part of the electrical system in the trailer.
When I approached the supervisor and her crony, he came out of the booth and stood 2 feet outside my truck sucking on an ice pop like a four year old and taunted me until his supervisor called him inside.
The whole ordeal ended with me at Boston Headquarters being apologized to by the head of personnel, who told me they had a continuing problem at that location. When I looked into the DCR camp in Salisbury I learned that the wife of the man who was supposed to be running Harold Parkers was running Salisbury Beach. I couldn't really expect much better from that, could I?
I traveled south to three other DCR parks; one had a host camper who came out in boxer shorts to guide me into a site too small for my rig. I moved on when he decided to put me on a site with no water or electric hook ups, though I'd paid for them. Next stop had no shade or hook ups, though they had told me they did when I called ahead of my four hour drive. Then they got angry that I wouldn't stay (I have dogs- no shade + 90 degree heat = dead animals).
Last place I tried had sites for 35 foot rigs that wouldn't accommodate my 30 footer.

Run, don't walk, far, far away from DCR locations in Massachusetts. (DCR = Dept. of Conservation & Recreation.) Steer clear of DCR-run parks

Julie, Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I'm really amazed to hear how unprofessional these DCR rangers were - sounds like they might have been trained at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which is where I tend to find people like that. I hope you finally found a good park!

Comments for Beware Massachusetts DCR Camp Hosting

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Dec 07, 2016
Work Camping in Massachusetts
by: Anonymous

These are the worst camp areas. Run by incompetent staff who have had so many complaints that the state has closed many areas. Areas which are open are managed by good-hearted folks for the most part but do not act professional . Call a state official and report what you see! Do not forget that this state cannot run a rest stop or keep them open or clean.

Thanks for this comment. Boy, I hate to hear such negative remarks about Mass. parks. They are a great idea and of so much benefit to the public - it's a shame they aren't being run well. More & better oversight is certainly needed. Perhaps too much cronyism going on.

Jun 19, 2014
one last point . . .
by: Anonymous

In addition to less work, by not enforcing explicit attendance regulations they are throwing money away. Perhaps the powers that be enacted these regs both giving fair access to the public and for financial concerns. Maybe also these people are saving the cookies for their friends and family. This agency needs much more over site and much more training.

Jun 19, 2014
dcr camping problems
by: Anonymous

My experience at Tolland state park was terrible. They allow people to hog the sites, show up when they feel like it. There are some specific rules about attendance which they will not enforce. So here I was looking for a space, looking at an empty park, and the attendant wouldn't even look in the book because all she knew was that the season had been booked. By not adhering to attendance policy the rich people could just buy up all of the sites, keep others out, and show up when they feel like it, (in theory). This was a few years ago, maybe they got in trouble and changed. Another time my girlfriend and I were on our motorcycles in the rain and same thing, they didn't even look in the book. Just who do these people think they are anyway? Small people with a little power. Maybe they like it the way they do it because less visitors means less trash, less bathroom duty, LESS WORK!

Apr 22, 2014
by: Anonymous

The one great thing about volunteering can always leave and let the rangers clean those bathhouses. It is rather suspect to me, too.

Feb 11, 2014
DCR Experience
by: Joanne

I have to completely disagree with your generalization of the DCR camps. I have had NOTHING but good experience at one of the parks in the Boston/Cape Cod area. Superintendent is awesome, rangers are professional and very appreciative of host camper staff. The HOSTS, in my experience, are diverse in their experience, work ethic and attitudes. There are some who are a pleasure to be around and others who do meet your stereotype of PIA (lazy, complaining, sloppy and disrespectful). re: comment #2 our power went on and off several times over the season and it never damaged my rig. That sounds weird, more likely some type of surge?

Aug 04, 2013
by: Anonymous

unplugging an RV does not damage any part of the electrical system, which night make any other claims suspect.

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