CamperForce Changes

camperforce-changesSo, the lowdown on CamperForce this year. As my older readers know, this is my second peak season here at Coffeyville, KS in Amazon’s CamperForce program. For those of you who weren’t reading IO last year at this time, I did a little compilation post about six weeks ago that had links to essentially every post I wrote about Amazon last year, it can be found here. Repeating it all as I go through it again this fall would be repetitive, so I’m only going to focus on the things that are different from last year.

I arrived on Tuesday, moved into my site at Big Chief (A2 – first row, second site over) which as expected already had one RV in it, a Class A owned by Lynda and Lee, my new site-mates. My biggest concern with sharing a site was the noise level, but I need not have worried. I do not think I could have picked a better couple to stay next to. They’re friendly and we have a lot in common, it’s too bad we’re working completely opposite shifts. **EDIT 4/8/14** Big Chief’s contract with Amazon was not renewed this year due to this doubling up on sites issue and a few others.  So Big Chief is not an option for Coffeyville campers this year unless you want to pay for the site yourself!

Wednesday was a day off, then Thursday and yesterday was orientation. Like last year it ran from about 8 am to 12:30 pm both days, unlike last year it ran a lot smoother. This year, Amazon called us campers about a week before we showed up to give us our shift and department, so there was no arguing during orientation about who wanted what shift. Michael Cross is the name of the guy running the program at this site, he did our orientation and he knew what he was talking about and was able to answer all our questions. Last year the old guy Paul had left just the day before orientation, the HR ladies who stepped in to do orientation last minute (it hadn’t been a planned away) didn’t know what they were doing and it showed.

This year, 48% of the CamperForce folks have returned from a previous year. That’s up significantly from last year. I could tell from orientation that Michael really seems to care about the RVers, and having been a work camper himself who went through the program before staying on as a full time worker and eventually getting promoted to where he is now, it shows. He can relate to the position we’re in, and the CamperForce team looked at feedback we gave him last seasoned and implemented some changes to make things go more smoothly.

One of those changes is overtime. Coffeyville is being a guinea pig year, and campers at this site only do not have mandatory overtime this season, that’s huge. The Kentucky and Nevada sites are still doing up to 50 hour mandatory work weeks for campers this year when volume requires it, but if things go well here in Kansas this season the policy will probably be put into effect for them eventually.

The people running the program are figuring that because campers drive all this way to work, that we’ll still take the overtime (voluntarily) and end up with roughly the same number of hours as if the overtime had been mandatory. But this puts more control in the individual camper’s hands, and if they’re feeling sore and tired on one of their potential overtime days and don’t want overtime they don’t have to take it, but maybe on another day off that week they’ll be feeling up to the challenging and wanting the extra pay. No body knows for sure how it’ll work out, but I know I’ll still be trying to pick up extra shifts when I can for the money.

I’m not sure if this is new this year, or if I just failed to hear about it last year, but CamperForce people are only expected to meet 85% of the individual productivity goal for their department, and I think this for all three sites. The reason why this is done isn’t because campers tend to be older, or because Amazon is showing favoritism, it’s because campers have a higher attendance rate, so the numbers end up looking the same if you average out units per week.

Another big difference so far, this year Amazon opted to have us campers get drug testing off site before we showed up. For me, it was a bit of a hassle because I needed to drive 75 miles to Rapid for the drug test when I was at the Badlands, for those RVers who were in less rural areas it was less inconvenient. When we asked why they’d changed it, Michael said that that way people who failed the drug test didn’t waste gas driving hundreds of miles out here just to be turned away. A good question to that came up: Wouldn’t those who were going to fail the drug test know it was going to happen? Michael said that you’d be surprised, how many people just think the rules don’t apply to them and they won’t get caught.

This morning, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with another blog reader, Pamela. Pamela is the Program Manager for CamperForce nationwide, and like Michael, a pretty awesome person who really gets where RVers are coming from. She’s been traveling to the three sites, doing short interviews of campers in the program and getting pictures of them, their rigs, and the campgrounds to put together new promotional material for CamperForce that actually has RVers in it. She’s also been asking for perks we’d like to see in the program or things that could be changed in improved. Lynda, Lee, and the two of us talked for two hours, it was a productive morning.

I also discovered today that Coffeyville does have a hiking trail or two. After lunch with Lynda and Lee the three of us went out hiking for a couple hours, there’s this old road about a mile long that was made in the 1930’s along a scenic hillside. The road is very narrow and not open to vehicle traffic anymore, but it makes a great place to go hiking. I’m sad that I didn’t have my phone with me for pictures, I’ll have to go back in the next week with my phone while the fall colors are still around.

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22 Responses to CamperForce Changes

  1. Tina October 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    Great update and glad to hear they are listening and taking some action on RVers feedback. I’ve never worked at Amazon but hope to in the future. Hopefully this will be a better year for you as you have made some friends and will be able to hang out a little with others. By the way what shoes did you get to wear while working? I’d like to add them to my Amazon wish list and will buy through your link.

    I know what you mean about the drug test. I am working for the elections and needed to take the test. Well I was in Bishop CA so basically in the middle of no where. I needed to wait until I got to a bigger area.

    Maybe I missed it but what are you doing at Amazon this time? Picker?

    Take care,


    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Hey Tina. Like last year I asked to be a Picker, but didn’t get it. I’m going to be in ICQA, which I’ll write more about once I’ve done it. From my understanding it’s mostly counting bins to make sure what’s suppose to be in there is in there. Like quality control.

      I bought a pair of New Balance tennis for $50 last year specifically for Amazon, you really do want comfortable shoes. While I really appreciate the offer to buy them from my link, I highly recommend going to a store to try on a bunch of pair for yourself. Shoes fit everyone differently, and when you’re going to be on your feet for 10 hours a day it’s really important that they fit well. Thanks though!

  2. Kim October 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Glad you like your neighbors and that things are starting off so well for your season. Amazon is lucky to have you back!
    Kim recently posted..Day 4 – Fredericksburg, VAMy Profile

    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Heya Kim! Tonight’s my first real night of work, looking forward to it. Well, to earning some moolah at least. 😉 I’m happy to hear that you finally got to head off on your eastern adventure! Silly government…

  3. John Hussey October 27, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Even though now that you are working at Amazon, you will still receive credit and a little $$$ change from them for those items we readers purchase from Amazon if we do it through your Amazon search portal, right? I hope so.

    How have the Amazon purchase through you been so far? Keep mentioning it and prompt us readers to use it often! The extra income has got to help you.

    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Yes John, I spoke with Michael in orientation to make sure it wasn’t against any rules to be working at the warehouse and earning money through the affiliate links at the same time. He said it was fine, so go ahead and keep using them!

      Last month I brought in about $89 from the affiliate links, I’ll post this month’s earnings so far at the end of my next post, but I think I’ll break $100. That would be fantastic, as I’m able to earn enough from seasonal jobs to stay on the road but haven’t been able to do much saving which I need to do if I want to get solar power for my RV. A big thank you to everyone reading this who uses my Amazon links, it makes a difference!

  4. Mike LeBlanc October 27, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you for the update. I had begun the employment process and spoke with Pamela and Michael; Pamela via email and Michael via phone only to have to change my plans due to family emergency. Your posts from both years will be of great help to me next year. Do I understand that you are “sharing” a site with another worker? If so, is that common throughout the RV park? As always, a great post! Keep those photos and letters coming!

    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Hey Mike, you’re in good hands with Pamela and Michael.

      Yes I am sharing a 80 ft pull-through site with a 35 ft. Class A, which means we each really get a 40 ft. back in. No it’s not common, or at least not the way it’s suppose to work. Big Chief messed up somewhere with reservations and overbooked, no I don’t know the full story behind it. Amazon did not sanction the change and is unhappy about it, because it makes the campers unhappy and less likely to stay. Last year everyone had their own site, but there were a lot less people, I don’t think the park completely filled up by peak last year. This year there were already more RVs than sites by the time I arrived. You’ll probably want to check with Big Chief before you come next year, because the current management (not the guy who was running it last year) is thinking about just dividing all the sites up to make room for more people next year.

  5. MikeB October 27, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Glad to hear your neighbors are nice people. Sounds like you are off to a great start at Amazon!

    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      So far so good. 🙂

  6. Evelyn B October 27, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Glad the site sharing is working so well for you. I wish the drug screening was still done on site. We had to drive about 80 miles round trip. I am very happy about the overtime being voluntary. I’m not sure how much we would get as stowers anyway. You’ll find there are other changes once you start working. This is our third year, and there have been changes every year.

    • Becky October 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Last year as a stower I had mandatory overtime a total of three weeks, so 3 of my 11 working weeks were 50 hours. Voluntary overtime was not available for stowers last year. We’ll see how it goes.

      And yeah I’m interested to see how else things are different this year. I hope you’re doing well.

  7. John of Sinbad and I on the Loose October 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Working a nightshift do they pay a night differential rate for that? Meaning like 10% per hour over what the daytime hourly rate is. Good news for your neighbors. Are they around your age or older?
    John of Sinbad and I on the Loose recently posted..Channel DriveMy Profile

    • Becky October 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      Heya John, it sounds like you could benefit from reading over my last year’s posts on this subject (the link in this article), particularly About Amazon’s CamperForce, which answers the majority of questions, including this one. Yes, there is a shift differential, it varies from site to site. At Coffeyville it’s 50 cents.

      And my neighbors are older than me, but under traditional retirement age.

      Annadel State Park looks very beautiful, stay safe and enjoy yourself!

  8. Skyquest October 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Hi Becky
    Have you ever participated in the Sugar Beet Harvest? They also use RV’ers. You can make up to 2,000 in 2 weeks. Here is a link to the site that has info.

    • Becky October 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      I have friends who do that Sky and have heard quite a bit about it. Two things keep from pursuing it right now. First it’s pretty far north and happens in the fall. Which means it’s less convenient to get to, and overlaps the summer park season and Amazon’s season which pays pretty good too, and my RV isn’t really set up for cold weather camping. Secondly driving up for just 2-3 weeks even if the money’s good just seems like a lot of effort, and if the weather is bad you might make no-where near that kind of money, or the season might get pushed back farther and cuts even more into Amazon.

      I might try it some year just to say that I’ve done it, we’ll see. Thank you for the link though, others here might be interested. 🙂

  9. BadKat October 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Great information..met you at the Badlands and are now in KY at Amazon. We had a Security meeting and from what I saw starting 11/24 we have 2/50hr weeks then 2/60 hr weeks and to finish another 50 hr week. Heard nothing about that timeline being voluntary.

    Waiting to see if any overtime happens before then. I am a picker and have only had one day of VOT.

    • Becky October 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      As I said in my post BadKat it’s just at Coffeyville that it’s voluntary this year, it’s an experiment. Depending on how it goes here this season, other sites may adopt it next season. I hope you’re enjoying KY!

  10. gbanker October 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Hi Becky, we have been following your site since last year, and are currently working 3rd Shift inbound at Amazon-Coffeyville, staying at Buckeye RV Estates since 9/26. Re: Overtime for stowers, tomorrow we will work our second OT day since starting!
    We appreciate your straight forward reports, and we have found Amazon to be pretty much as you have described.
    Thanks for your story, we can be followed at

    If it somehow worked on a common day off, we would enjoy meeting you! Cheers!

    • Becky October 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Heya gbanker, I hope you’re enjoying being a stower. Inbound generally seems to get less OT than Outbound, so enjoy those days while you have them… as long as you want them that is. 😉

      As I recall 3rd shift is days from Wednesday-Saturday. I work nights from Sunday-Wednesday, so we have absolutely no days off together which makes it really hard to get together when I’m awake at a totally different time than you are. Let me know if I’m wrong though, because I do enjoy meeting other campers! Take care, hope you enjoy Amazon.

  11. Dan April 7, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    I know this is an older blog, but I have an update; Big Chief RV Park was not renewed by Amazon for 2014, due to doubling up sites and some rudeness towards camperforce folks last year.

    We will be our first year, working Coffeyville.
    Dan recently posted..Perfect Weather (Newport, OR)My Profile

    • Becky April 8, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      Thanks for the update Dan! I’ll edit it.

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