Does Jim look like a decrepit, old workamper who’s down on his luck?

Workamper Jim creates a fireplace mantle for Vickers Ranch.

Sadly, the image of old, broke and destitute full-time RVing workampers is now being promoted all over TV, radio and the Internet thanks to another example of the sad state of journalism.

Workampers are Not Victims

Today, NPR’s “Here and Now” show aired a story about living in RVs and workamping on the road. Jim and I had waited all day for this story with gleeful anticipation. That’s because we took it for granted that an organization like NPR would present a story that covered all of the great aspects of living and working as full-time RVers.

But instead, here’s the grossly inaccurate story the public was served up, by creative writing journalism professor Jessica Bruder, who wrote an August 2014 Harper’s Magazine article called “The End of Retirement: When You Can’t Afford to Stop Working.”

A Self-Serving, One-Sided Agenda

As a professional writer I find it appalling that someone with such a one-sided agenda could make it into Harper’s Magazine. Is traditional media so broke and desperate for newsworthy content that they’re willing to overlook fact-checking and balanced points of view? If this was her way of spotlighting the sad state of the US economy, then she could have done it with more accuracy and integrity than something you’d find on Fox News.

But no. Bruder was able to dig up the small minority of workampers who are down on their luck, and she ran with it. Her article spotlighted photos of crappy old RVs and portrayed full-time RVers as destitute and downtrodden. She took the workamping concept and twisted it into a nightmare.

Did Bruder make an effort to dig deeper and talk to the majority of full-time RVers who are living this lifestyle because we choose to? No. Did she talk to those of us who are not retirement age? Nope. Or did she make an effort to interview those of us who wouldn’t have life any other way (we’re not that hard to find)? That would be asking way too much.

Instead, she scraped the bottom of the barrel to create a sensationalistic piece that would propel her reputation up (yet again) as the “subculture journalist” in mainstream media — all at the expense of the term “workamping” and the concept of full-time RVing. Talk about an agenda!

Journalism is dead.

RIP Journalism

In 1992 when I graduated from college with a journalism degree in hand, a professor in another department said to me, “So, how does it feel to enter a dying field?” He was so right. Real journalism is dead. Bruder’s article in Harper’s Magazine and her professor status at Columbia School of Journalism is proof. How scary that she’s teaching her methods to the incoming ranks.

RIP journalism. It was nice knowing you.

Workamping: not a bad way of life!

Meanwhile, here are other venues where her article is discussed. If you disagree as much as we do, I encourage you to comment:

NPR Here and Now: Older Poor Americans and Their Search for Work

Harper’s Blog: The End of Retirement on MSNBC
US News: A Disturbing Look at the New Retirement
MSNBC The Cycle: An Eye Opening Look at Retirement in America

 

 

Comments 1 Comment »

It’s been 56 days since we’ve had a cocktail. Our closet is crammed with all of our favorite booze, because we stocked up at Costco in Las Vegas before we came out here to the sticks. But we haven’t touched a drop.

What does this have to do with full-time RVing? A lot. I’ll get to that.  Meanwhile, we’ve been on the wagon, living like Mormons.

No gin and tonics.

We love Hendrick’s for Gin and Tonics

No margaritas.

When money’s no object, we love Republic Tequila.

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We’ve had our share of different workampng jobs over the years. Each one has offered it’s own unique RV site accommodations.

Colorado Guest Ranch Workamping Site

Colorado Guest Ranch Workamping Site

You may be wondering what type of campsites are provided for workampers. What kind of utilities and amenities are offered? Do they have full hookups? Well, I’m sure that all depends upon the job and location. We can only speak of our own experiences though, so I’ll share some scenes from our job sites for your consideration.

One of the few jobs we have not done, is work at your typical RV resort. We’ve stayed at quite a few though, and have met workampers there who are usually provided a pretty sweet site. Perhaps something like the very first place we ever stayed…

Premier RV  Resort, Salem Oregon

Premier RV Resort, Salem Oregon

Ever since we discovered workamping, however, we have preferred to work some not so typical jobs, which provided some less than typical accommodations. Our very fist job, workamping at an animal shelter for instance, included a rather rough set-up…

Safe Harbor Animal Rescue Workamping Site

Safe Harbor Animal Rescue Workamping Site

This pretty much prepared us for our second job as organic farm workampers, where the RV site was no site at all…

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Have I mentioned how much I enjoy workamping at Vickers Ranch because of the opportunity I get to do some creative woodworking projects? Yeah, I thought so, maybe once or twice. Well, here’s one I’m particularly proud of.

Vickers Ranch Handmade Log Fireplace Mantle

Last year, I arrived at the ranch in time to help install and finish a similar mantle my boss made. This year, I had the honor of doing the dirty work. So I thought I would share how to make a custom log fireplace mantle like this one I made at my favorite workamping job.

Ranch Workamping Job to Make Handmade Log Fireplace Mantle

Read on for tips, lots of photos, and plenty of fun with power tools!
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It’s turning out to be another happy workamping summer at Vickers Ranch!

One of the best things I like about workamping on the ranch, besides working with my crazy wife and a bunch of other fun folks, is the opportunity I get to be creative—with access to the tools I need to do just about anything.

Sure, ranch work is hard, but between repairing screen doors, troubleshooting toilets and washing Jeeps, I get to create fun projects like these handmade log slab benches…

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