I was 15 when I had my first seasonal job. Curious, but generally sheltered and corn-fed up to that point, I got on a plane to meet my big sister. We worked together at the Evergreen Lodge in California outside of Yosemite. She had found the job on CoolWorks and convinced her boss and our parents to let me come work as well for part of the summer.
I bussed tables, constantly looking up to a particularly confident server who also taught salsa classes and would give me gracious reminders that it was probably time to wash my uniform. The chefs had fun breaking down the walls of my preconceived notions of what food was, and I learned that made-from-scratch bread pudding and elk medallions kick tollhouse cookie’s and chicken nugget’s ass. One of the kitchen guys also taught me how to throw axes. It was a well rounded curriculum.
At the end of a work day, I would trek the half mile home practicing my gradually less pitiful whistling to avoid surprising any bears until I got to our little trailer ‘neighborhood’ that had a population of 5. We lived amongst the trees and bears who did still visit a fair share despite the more eloquent whistles of my neighbors and the steady stream of bluegrass from my sister’s speaker—a complete change from my home on the Plains and the pasture of cows that shared a fence line with us.
We climbed, we hiked, we swam. We talked nightly around fires and skinny dipped in hot springs. It was a quintessential first time at adult summer camp experience. All the way to the wild circus-themed goodbye party that we had half-way through the season because I had to go home early to get ready for school. The summer was a blast on a surface level, but it stuck with me in way more ways than that.
Other than recommendations about washing my uniform, my coworkers shared plenty of other words of wisdom. Discussions about what I should do after high school were fairly frequent, fueled by their own anecdotal evidence of what works and what’s bullshit, what’s wise and what’s a little more wild. Up until that point, I thought college was the only option that would grant me a life with more options than what was offered in my hometown. With their stories and lifestyles sitting right in front of me, it felt like hundreds of doors had opened up all around me. I knew I had options that I couldn’t even yet fathom. That felt incredibly powerful.
Since then I’ve continued to work seasonal jobs and preach the validity of the lifestyle. And for the past two years, I’ve made spreading the good word more than just a talking point by becoming an owner of The Seasonals. Our message comes in the form of an online publication, The Seasonals Podcast where we interview seasonal workers about the lifestyle and the decision points they’ve encountered during their travels, and as of this past January, an in-print quarterly magazine full of adventure and misadventure stories surrounding the lifestyle. We want to help answer the question we’ve all been asked at least once. ‘How do you do it?’
As always, thanks CoolWorks for making the job search the easy part.