Most of the time, Mary Arlington promotes her 55-site campground in northwest Kansas as a quiet place for weary travelers to unwind as they travel across the country.
But this week, there isn’t any campground in America that’s busier than High Plains Camping, a 55-site campground in the middle of nowhere, roughly half way between Kansas City and Denver.
The only difference is their clientele. Arlington’s guests are
farmworkers — young farmworkers who travel across the country in RVs,
harvesting America’s wheat. The harvesting companies are from Texas,
Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana and even Canada, and the crews are
mostly from the same regions, but sometimes include young men and women
from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
“These guys not only bring their RVs, but they travel with
combines, grain trucks and other farm equipment, which they leave in the
farm fields,” she said. “They were in Oklahoma and Texas a couple of
days ago. Now they’re in Kansas, and from here, they will fan out across
the Midwest. Some will go to Nebraska. Others go to the Dakotas and
Colorado. Some of them will ultimately keep heading north into Canada as
the wheat ripens.”
Arlington, a former Ohio resident who bought the campground in
2002, previously knew nothing about the wheat harvest or about the bands
of farmworkers who travel across the Midwest in RVs, harvesting the
grain that will be used in countless food products, both here and
But she said she has developed a healthy respect for them and the
work they do. “These are very hard-working American boys,” she said,
adding, “They bust their butts so that you can have a loaf of bread.”
Arlington said seven crews are staying at High Plains Camping right
now. They typically leave the campground by 9 a.m. and don’t return
until after midnight, after their work for the day is done.
“I’m up until 1 in the morning myself, making sure everything is OK and that they have what they need,” she said.
While the visiting farmworkers usually do their own cooking in
camp, they also fill the seats at the restaurant next to Arlington’s
campground and patronize other businesses in the neighboring town of
Oakley, population 1,800.
Arlington said she gets a kick out of the reactions of vacationers who
call her remote campground thinking they won’t have any trouble finding a
space, only to find that the entire park is booked. “Walk-ins take a
real chance of being disappointed,” she said.
These farmworkers, of course, are not Arlington’s usual clientele,
who normally consist of RVers heading east or west on Interstate 70 or
snowbirds heading to or from Canada and other northern states along U.S.
83. “In another week, the farmworkers will have moved on to another
campground or RV park in the Midwest and I’ll have my usual clientele
once again,” Arlington said.
High Plains Camping features 55 pull-through sites with 30 and 50
amp service, free Wi-Fi, propane service, bathrooms and showers, three
hot tubs, a recreation hall, an organic garden, a miniature golf course
and a large campground store. More information is available at www.highplainscamping.com.
High Plains Camping is affiliated with Best Parks in America and is also a member of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which represents privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country.
From the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds