Hosting a campsite requires a wide array of skills — from repairs and outdoor know-how to customer relations and tech support. It’s not a job for everyone, but it is a job that veterans of the American armed services are more likely to take on.

Veterans make up 6.4% of the U.S. population, but in a recent survey of property owners in the camping industry, The Dyrt found that 13.5% identified as active service or veterans of the armed services. Similarly, a survey of campers found that 14.8% had served or currently serve in the military.

In honor of Veterans Day, we reached out to several veterans who host campers. We found gardeners cultivating a backyard oasis and a tech-forward RV innovator, a riverside resort, and a mountainous ranch. The sites are diverse, but they’re all run by veterans using their life skills to help others enjoy the outdoors — and often giving back to the veteran community. Here are their stories, and the sites they call home.

Enchanted Circle Campground

Veteran owned - Enchanted Circle Campground

Enchanted Circle Campground – Photo by The Dyrt camper, Jamie L.

Angel Fire, New Mexico

  • Owner – Landon Dooley
  • Military branch – Army
  • Price – $75 per night
  • Number of sites – 7
  • RV sites – Yes
  • Fires allowed – Yes
  • Pets allowed – Yes

Currently closed for the season. Reopens April 30.

U.S. Army veteran Landon Dooley loves camping. The only problem? He hates campgrounds. So after purchasing a sprawling 161-acre ranch surrounded by New Mexico’s Carson National Forest, he built the campground he’d been dreaming of.

Enchanted Circle is home to horses, pigs, chickens, and goats. Antelope graze at the property’s spring-fed lakes. You’ll find hiking trails winding into the forest and gorgeous night skies. What you won’t find is noisy crowds.

Landon Dooley, campground owner

Drawing on his experience in the service and in construction, Dooley designed the property to ensure that campers can’t see other sites. Guests are free to relax in seclusion, resting in host-provided hammocks and cooking on cast iron provided by the property.

Ultimately, Dooley says he intends to transform the ranch into a veterans retreat for service members and their families. Currently, he offers veterans and first-responders one free night during their two-night minimum stay.

“At the end of the day, we have all this great land,” says Dooley. “If you take a bunch of veterans out and get into a little more intimate of an environment, I feel like a lot more healing can be done.”

Gasconade Hills Resort

Veteran-owned campground, Gasconade Hills Resort

Veteran-owned campground, Gasconade Hills Resort – Photo by The Dyrt camper, Sheila C.

Richland, Missouri

  • Owner – James and Sheila Cook
  • Military branch – Air Force
  • Price – From $38
  • Number of sites – 14 tent sites, 40 RV sites, 1 tent rental, 4 camper rentals, 2 RV rentals, 17 cabin rentals
  • RV sites – Yes
  • Fires allowed – Yes
  • Pets allowed – Yes

Currently closed for the season. Reopens March 30.

In 2021, James Cook, Jr., and his wife Sheila packed up everything they owned, left California, and bought a campground in the Ozarks. They haven’t looked back.

“We’ve got a little bit of everything for everyone,” says Sheila, co-owner of Gasconade Hills Resort. There are rustic tent sites and furnished riverside cabins. You’ll find RV hookups and glamping areas. Traveling light? The Cooks will rent you a tent or camper. And if you’re interested in floating the adjacent Gasconade River, they offer their services for that too.

That’s a wide array of experiences — and customer types — to accommodate. Luckily, according to Sheila, James’ experience in the Air Force helped prepare him for life as a camp host.

James and Sheila Cook, campground owners

“He’s a jack of all trades, and much of that comes from the military,” says Sheila. “(It) prepared him for what he does today: Fast, critical thinking; maneuvering and managing things; operating large pieces of equipment; and all the little odd jobs. He’s the IT guy, the plumber, the electrician, the landscaper, the float operator… that’s just to name a few.”

Gasconade is also veteran-friendly: The campsite offers a 10% discount for active-duty military, veterans, and first responders.

Homestead RV Community

Theodore, Alabama

  • Owner – Ed O. Bridgman
  • Military branch – Air Force
  • Price – Dynamic pricing with monthly rates available
  • Number of sites – 59
  • RV sites – Yes
  • Fires allowed – Yes, in purchasable Solo Stoves & community fire pits
  • Pets allowed – Yes

When Ed O. Bridgman opened Homestead RV Community near Mobile, Alabama in 2021, his goal was nothing short of creating the world’s most technologically advanced RV park.

Ambitious, yes. But that’s just how Bridgman does things. After studying electrical engineering with the Air Force and later earning an MBA, Bridgman co-authored “Six-Sigma Quality Initiatives,” about the widely adopted blueprint for maximizing customer satisfaction while minimizing cost and waste.

Bridgman takes his lifetime experience and applies it to every detail of Homestead, and his analytic prowess helped him identify a seemingly overlooked market in the process.

Ed Bridgman, campground owner

“When you think of an RV destination, you think of it being filled with retirees,” he says. “In reality, 65% (of RVs) are owned by millennials. It’s being fueled by younger (and diversified) groups.”

The community offers app-based check-in and check-out, digital electric metering, virtual shopping at its online market, and more. Homestead also provides personal hot tubs to guests for a fee and is home to a massive fenced dog park. For longer-term guests, there’s also mail and package delivery.

Homestead isn’t just a passion project. It’s also a proof of concept — Bridgman consults on the construction of RV parks throughout the US, using Homestead as a beta test for various innovations. As with most things the veteran does, the goal is nothing less than a shift in the whole industry.

Mother Bosque Gardens

Veteran-owned, Mother Bosque Gardens

Veteran-owned, Mother Bosque Gardens – Photo by The Dyrt camper, Celina M.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Owners – Ernesto and Michaela Maestas
  • Military branch – Navy
  • Price – $45 per night
  • Number of sites – 6
  • RV sites – No
  • Fires allowed – No
  • Pets allowed – Yes

For the past seven years, Ernesto and Michaela Maestas have cultivated a peaceful oasis just a 10-minute drive from Albuquerque’s busy Old Town.

Behind the mural-painted walls of their high-desert property, visitors will discover Mother Bosque Gardens. Guests pitch tents in a garden area in what Michaela calls a “mini forest,” complete with fruit trees, flowers, herbs, and a pond. The couple says their property is often compared to a hostel, and it draws visitors from around the world.

Ernesto Maestas, owner

Ernesto says his experience with the Navy has helped him to, not only stay organized, but also to understand the needs and desires of a wide diversity of people.

“I believe working in the military with a lot of different groups of people of different ages helps me,” he says. “We get people from all over the world here and it helps that I’m able to relate to them. We’re open to whatever experiences come to us, and we tend to attract a certain kind of energy in the household.”