As Boomers go racing towards the day of their retirement, one question looms for many. How will I spend my time?
This group of retirees – the group that ushered in rock n’ roll, hippies and finding yourself – isn’t the kind of group that envisions endless days in a rocking chair. They are more active and healthier prompting a whole new way of thinking about the next chapter of their life.
Enter www.coolworks.com, the job posting website for people looking for living and working in destination locations. This website was founded in 1995 by Bill Berg, far ahead of all the various job posting websites crowding the Internet these days. This visionary and president had spent well over 9 years at Yellowstone as a “winter keeper”. Let’s just say, the life changing experience never left Bill. Even though he was working on his MBA at the time, Bill made a beeline back to Yellowstone where he still resides as he runs Cool Works.
Based on his experience, he wanted to help connect people who were up for an adventure, find these “destination” or seasonal jobs. The possible span of locations and work are vast.
One such destination location is at Kalani on the big island of Hawaii. Kalani is a non-profit retreat center, better described as an “intentional community”, that focuses on yoga and the performing arts. According to Drew Delaware, Kalani’s Director of Communications, they hire around 300 volunteers to work at Kalani each year and in turn for 4 days of service, a volunteer is given room at Kalani plus meals at their gourmet kitchen. Volunteers also have full access to over 50 classes each week. The assignment can be 1-3 months in length doing work ranging from housekeeping, horticulture or maintenance. As many as 50% of the people coming to work extend their stay in paradise and many return year after year explained Mr. Delaware.
Another destination, perhaps the biggest, is the US Park Service, who hires thousands of people annually to do a variety of work assignments throughout the United States. Meg Rudge, Assistant Director of HR for Xanterra, a company the Park Service hires to manage the various services explained how the hiring process worked. Ms. Rudge is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and that location alone hires 900-1200 people to perform jobs in hospitality, food service, stores and tours. “Our peak time is February-October but we offer services throughout the year” The park service typically hires and recruits throughout the US as most parks don’t generally have a local community to draw employees from, Ms. Rudge explained.
People working for Xanterra in the US Parks are offered a salary in addition to on-site, low cost housing. Although much of the housing tends to be dormitory style, there is space for couples and also people with RV’s at a minimal charge. A perfect situation for retirees. Ms. Rudge explained that they hire people of all ages and background but boomers are valued for strong work ethics and vast experience.
Bill Berg, founder and president of Cool Works explained that it does take commitment to pick up and move to a park area. “Usually, the surprise is that the experience is life changing and most don’t want it to end.” Many people doing this kind of work tend to continue to do it year after year for many years. [rad_rapidology_inline optin_id=”optin_1″]
One such example is Jim and Connie Ford of Texas. Both retired from their local school district, she was an office manager and he was the director of maintenance. They have worked for 10 years post retirement, at Yellowstone Park. Connie works in the reservation department and Jim works maintaining the beauty of the campground. They work a May through Labor Day schedule, 5 days a week, living in an RV they hookup in the Yellowstone campgrounds. As they both said: “You are dealing with the public and that’s why you’re there. You have to like the outdoors and meeting people.” It’s clear they both do.
There must be something in the whole idea of a seasonal job that the general population has yet to figure out. You get to live in some of the most scenic, beautiful locations on earth. You get a change of pace. Your expenses are minimal. You usually get housing and sometimes gourmet meals. Most jobs you get paid for and you meet some of the most interesting people you will ever come across. Who wouldn’t want to this kind of work? If you can’t figure out what to do with the rest of your life, surf through the www.coolworks.com and get inspired. Your retirement can be an adventure.
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