The dust has finally settled from Amazon’s CamperForce, with my last check having been deposited on the 4th. You know what this means, final review time. First and perhaps most importantly, the money.
Total made (in 11 weeks and 2 days): $4617.81
First paycheck (2 half days for orientation): $72
Average of 2nd thru 4th paychecks (all 80ish hours): $695.15
Average of 5th and 6th paychecks (both 90ish hours): $816.62
7th paycheck (50 hours + $1/hr bonus for every hour worked): $827.13
Mind you this was take home pay after taxes, filing Single with no exemptions. I also worked at the Coffeyville site and the overnight shift, so I was making $11.00 an hour (with the bonus at the end though, I effectively made $12.00 per hour for sticking out the whole season).
I already mentioned this before in a previous post, but I managed to save more per month working here than at any other job I’ve ever held, including the ones where I made more per hour, because the cost of living was so much lower. Since Amazon pays for the campsite and utilities, that cuts costs down a lot and needs to be factored into the money equation.
I have more money in the bank than I did when I left Bluffton to go full-timing back in September, and I got to spend 2-3 weeks traveling and seeing the sights between South Carolina and Kansas, and then another 2 weeks up here in Wisconsin visiting friends and family, something that wouldn’t have been possible with a traditional job. That’s 5 weeks of “vacation” with 11.5 weeks of working. Yes, I’ll say that on the money front, this was a big win and proves that full-time RVing pre-retirement is indeed a viable way to live if you’re smart about it.
I have always favored work where I’ve been on my feet all day and had a fair bit of physical activity, so working at Amazon wasn’t too hard for me personally. I am glad I purchased a good pair of walking shoes for the job, and I may have occasionally went home with sore feet, but not horribly so. I never had problems with sore anything else, and by the next day my feet were always fine again. I did usually get home tired, I think 10 hours on your feet working overnight will do that. Your mileage will vary depending on your level of fitness.
Also of note: I aimed for (and most often achieved) getting between 100-105% of my personal stowing goal every night. This kept supervisors and managers off my back, but I didn’t go out of my way to do more than this. There is no bonus for going above and beyond, and it being a temp position there was no need to impress anyone in hopes of a raise or promotion. Some of you might find this a practical approach, and some might find it appalling to not give it your personal best, but I’m just stating it as a point of comparison: At 100-105% to goal, I would occasionally go home with sore feet. If I’d pushed harder (and yes, I could have) it would have been more physically draining. For the record, I feel there are a lot of things in life worth giving your all, but for me this wasn’t one of them.
The work was not mentally stimulating, at all. Working with inventory control for the ICC required a bit more thought than stowing did, both jobs were pretty boring after a time. There wasn’t a lot of spare time for talking with fellow employees, so mostly you will be stuck alone with your thoughts, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe for other jobs it’s different, but I can only write about what I experienced myself. Once or twice I got to water spider as a stower, meaning I was in charge of getting carts and totes staged for the other stowers to work on and was constantly in motion and I preferred that because it kept me busy enough that I didn’t heed the passage of time and the work night went quicker.
Some people liked working at Amazon, and some hated it. I did what I could to enjoy it. I kept as far away from the work drama as possible, I tried to look at things in a positive light, and did my best to ignore the minor annoyances that are present in any job.
I said in my opening article about CamperForce that I think a lot of how the experience goes depends on who’s in charge, and I still stand by that. While I was working at Coffeyville, the Inbound team was above 100% to the team goal nearly every night, and often quite a bit above 100% (I probably shouldn’t list the specifics on here, although we’d get told the specific number every evening at standup). This made the corporate bigwigs happy, which in turn made the site managers happy, which made the team managers and supervisors happy. They were happy with us, and told us so, and it made for an overall positive work environment.
As for the physical work environment, it’s quite dusty. If you don’t wear gloves, your hands will get filthy. I have minor dust allergies, so my nose was stuffy most of the time I was there. If dust bothers you, you’ll probably want to stock up on antihistamines.
Other than that, Coffeyville’s warehouse is climate controlled, so temperature wise it’s reasonable indoors. As the weather got colder, most of us would bring a light over shirt of some sort that could be worn in the colder parts of the building and taken off in the warmer parts.
For me, Amazon’s CamperForce worked. The pay was worth it, the work was easy to do if boring, and the environment at the facility I worked at wasn’t bad. Would I do it again? Yes, but I’d do it a little differently.
I saved a lot of money by not going out on my days off and not spending anything on entertainment, this is something I had planned to do coming in to the job to maximize my savings. Combine this with the fact that I was working nights and not getting any sunlight and not sleeping as well, and that I was unable to keep up with my friends back in Wisconsin and South Carolina easily because they were all asleep or at work when I was available, and things got pretty lonely and I got a bit stir crazy. Especially the last month when I was working more hours and had less free time.
If I were to do it again, I’d need to budget time and money for entertainment, and make a better effort to keep up with people to keep that problem from happening again. Yes, I made it through without, but it wasn’t enjoyable by the end. But now, having tried it a first time I’ve learned more about what does and doesn’t work for me, and I can make adjustments for next time. Because if everything works out, I probably will go back to Coffeyville next holiday season.
* This picture was taken at Power’s Bluff county park in Arpin, WI. I have several more pictures from my time up here in Wisconsin that I hope to share with you guys soon.