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Workamper News, a bimonthly news magazine published since 1987, has named a Maryland parkgound owner its 2004 Employer of the Year.
Mitch Parker, owner of Frontier Town and Fort Whaley Campgrounds, is one of more than 7,000 employers nationwide who hires seasonal and year-round employees known as workampers.
“Workampers are adventuresome singles and couples who enjoy a lifestyle that combines a wide variety of work opportunities with RV camping,” according to a Workamper News press release.
Thirty-six employees signed Parker’s nomination.
“Mitch epitomizes campground owner excellence,” Harold Decker, general manager of the campground, said in his nomination. “He leads by example.”
“He makes workampers feel like we are part of a team,” added Anne Martel.
Many of Parker’s workampers have worked for him for more than a decade. Nancy Cropper, a veteran of 14 seasons, said: “Mr. Parker is generous, kind and fair. He treats all of us with respect.”
This is the seventh year for the award, which recognizes employers who provide an exemplary environment for the workamper experience. Previous winners include Adventureland Amusement Park in Iowa, Normandy Farms Campground, Massachusetts, St. Paul East KOA Campground, Minnesota, Clear Creek Guest Ranch, North Carolina, Lake George Escape Camping Resort, New York, and Denali Park Hotel, Alaska.
Workamper News also named Linda and Leroy Tyson, employees of the Circus Circus KOA in Las Vegas, Nev., their 2004 Workampers of the Year.
General Manager Greg Taylor, who hired the KOA veterans to help with the opening of the new location, submitted the nomination.
The Tysons have worked at several KOAs since 2000, from Bar Harbor, Maine to Nashville, Tenn., and Reno, Nev., and typically work summer and fall assignments and then return to their home in Louisiana for the winter.  They agreed to bypass their normal routine and join the Circus Circus startup crew on Dec. 1, 2003.
“They were instrumental in our grand opening,” Taylor said. “The first day was wild, with a full house, our computers being installed, our reservations were on hundreds of pages of computer printouts and everyone was unfamiliar with the area. The Tysons set the tone with their calming presence to both guests and staff.”