Missouri couple travel country working at campgrounds

Published 9:01 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Frances and Jim Parker are the campground managers at the TVA Watauga Campground.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Frances and Jim Parker are the campground managers at the TVA Watauga Campground.

Many think of camping as a weekend excursion or a weeklong vacation, but for Jim and Frances Parker, camping helps pay the bills.

The Parkers work for Recreation Resource Management as the campground managers at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watauga campground. TVA recently selected RRM to serve as the campground concessionaire to manage all of the TVA’s campgrounds.

The couple have a home in Missouri, but the couple travel around in their recreational vehicle for most of the year. During the camping season, they work at campgrounds; they spend the winter months in Florida.

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This year marks the third year the Parkers have worked at campgrounds.

“This is our first tour as managers, but we’ve worked as hosts before,” Jim said.

One of the reasons the Parkers decided to work at campgrounds is because it gives them the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the country. Also, it allows them to follow the nice weather, Jim said.

“We don’t like Missouri in the summer, and we don’t like Missouri in the winter,” he said with a laugh. The Parkers, who have been married for 33 years, have two daughters and four grandchildren, who all live in Missouri. So despite the dislike of the weather, that state remains home.

This season marks the first time the Parkers have visited this part of Tennessee. The couple moved into the campground about two weeks ago, and so far they love it.

“It’s beautiful,” Jim said. “I’m looking forward to the trees blossoming.”

The river that runs along the edge of the campground is a popular spot for local fishers and Jim said he has already spend some time on the river bank casting his line.

“I like it here,” Frances said. “It’s so quiet, especially in the morning. I get up and all I hear is the water and the birds.”

Living in the RV for the whole season may not appeal to some, but Jim said it’s not difficult as long as you have the right RV.

“You have everything you have in a home, just in a smaller space,” he said.

With RRM taking over the TVA campgrounds, there will be some changes for campers at Watauga this season.

As part of RRM’s management of the campground, an RRM employee will be on duty at all times on site. Most of the time that will be Jim and Frances, but there will also be a campground host who will cover for the Parkers on their days off.