Amazon – season wrap-up

Happy New Year!!

Our final checks from Amazon have been deposited, so it is time for our final post for the season!  Our 12 week fitness plan turned into 13 weeks, as we worked right up until 5:00pm on December 23rd.  This was the latest we worked for Amazon in our three years.  We really did not mind putting in an additional 30 hours.  Our goal of “fatter wallet, slimmer waist” was definitely accomplished this year at SDF-8 in Jeffersonville, IN.


Amazon pays Camperforce employees $10.75/hour, plus your campsite (including electric) in full.  Our total gross pay this season was $15,771.29 for the two of us, which includes our end of season bonus.  This year, we received $1.00/hour for every regular hour and $1.50/hour for every overtime hour that we worked.  We worked every overtime day that was available, except one.

In addition to the pay, we also received $600.00 in Visa gift cards for working three 59 1/2  weeks.  We ended up with $30 in Vendor Bucks, which we cashed out for quarters for laundry.  This will cover a months worth of laundry for us.

We each earned 5 points from “fast starts”, which we used to obtain $5 Applebees gift cards.  They were awarding weekly points if you made your first pick within one minute of when break ended, and within 10 minutes after start up in the morning and after lunch.

I was able to win a $50 Amazon gift card from a picking contest, and a Kindle FireHD 6 for a weekly perfect attendance drawing.  So overall, the extra perks this year were pretty nice for us.


We were pleasantly surprised when our end of season wrap up meeting turned into a little party.  They had provided us with a catered meal from Qdoba, and raffled off three Kindle Fire HD 6 for our group.  The party was on Tuesday the 22nd, and several people were hoping they would release us after the party.  But we did have to go back to work, and work a full 10 hour day on the 23rd.  The general manager was present, and said they will spend some time in the off-season re-evaluating the Camperforce program in Jeffersonville.  He stated they will not have it next year, but maybe in the future.  We would go back to Jeffersonville if they did offer the program again at their center.


This year I used a Fitbit Flex, which is the model that clips on to your waist.  I ended up walking a total of 659.30 miles during the 13 weeks of work, averaging about 11 miles per day.   Some days we would have a good pick path, and “only” walk about 8 miles a day.  Dan lost a total of 11 pounds (and is down over 40 pounds since we first started Amazon three years ago), and I ended up losing 12 1/2 pounds.  The hard part now, is keeping that weight off!


We are currently in Mims, Florida for the next three months.  Our first 5 days of overtime paid for our site, and the gift cards will pay for our groceries.  We hope to hook up with some friends in the area, and make a couple of trips to Walt Disney World before our Florida resident passes expire at the end of the month.  We are not planning on renewing the passes this year, as we want to visit some other attractions.

Quote for the day:  “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.  Make New Mistakes.  Make glorious, amazing mistakes.  Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before.  Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is:  art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do It.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” – Neil Gaiman


Amazon – 3 days to go!!!

We received our official notice that Wednesday, December 23rd will be our last day at Amazon. At first we thought we would be done on Tuesday, because they are having a party for us Tuesday afternoon.  But then our Camperforce HR person said she is off Wednesday, and that is why our party is the day before.   As such, we did sign up for voluntary work on Monday, so we will have three 10 hour days this week.  We decided against doing the 11 hour days, since we would not be getting any overtime.  And it is nice to see daylight when we leave work, instead of arriving in the dark, and leaving in the dark.  Makena also likes it because she gets a chance to play football outside while it is still light out!

We are actually happy to go all the way to the 23rd, as this continues our goal of ‘fatter wallet, slimmer waist’!  Tuesday December 22 is the last day for guaranteed 2 day delivery, so we expect Wednesday to be very busy.


The center has been super busy, continuing to set records this past week.  Once again, we set a new all-time picking record on our shift, picking 387,000 units!  And we had back-to-back days where both first and second shift picked over 700,000 units.  Seems like a lot of people will be getting flannel pajamas, bathrobes, socks and underwear for Christmas!



We continue to earn ‘vendor bucks’ and have received $27.00 so far, which we promptly cashed out in quarters (free laundry!).  I am glad they removed the metal detectors, so I don’t have to empty my pockets!

We have also completed all three 59 1/2 hour weeks, so we have earned a total of $600.00 in Visa gift cards!  It was a long stretch, not sure if we would do that again.

In addition, I was shocked when I heard my name announced as one of the three weekly winners of the perfect attendance drawing.  I received a Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet.  I can’t  tell you anything about it, as I have not had time to do anything with it, other than opening up the box and making sure it was not broken.  That will be a project for January.


In addition to telling us about our party and last day, they also advised they will not have another Camperforce program at SDF-8 in Jeffersonville, IN.  The operations manager has stated we are just too small to make that much of an impact at their center.  After 3 years, they have finally been able to hire and retain enough full-time staff to fill their needs, with supplementing temporary staff during Peak.

He did mention another location that would be a better fit for a Camperforce site, as that location is more rural, and has a hard time getting staff.  We hope they look into pursuing this location, as we would certainly consider applying to that location (since nothing is official, I won’t mention the location).  Several full-time Amazon employees that we talked to were disappointed about the cancelling of the program.  They said ‘every one of you works hard’ and ‘you folks make work fun’ is the common comments that I heard.  So even though we don’t make a significant impact with management, we certainly do with the employees.

Five Camperforce employees will be staying on and converting to full-time Amazon employees after our release.  They will continue to live in their RV’s although Amazon will not be paying for their campsite.  Each has their own reasons for doing so, and we wish them well.


Normally, Amazon pays for your campsite one day after your release day.  But for whatever reason, the arrangement here was month to month, based on your start date.  So our campsite is paid up through 12/27.  Since the weather will be in the 60’s this week (the weather has been great all season), we have decided to take advantage of our free site and stay a few extra days, instead of traveling Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We are tired, and plan on resting up a few days, before our 900 mile trip to warm and sunny Florida.

We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and safe travels if you will be out visiting friends and family over the holidays!

We will miss seeing our family and friends, but perhaps they can come visit or face time/skype us? (hint, hint)

Quote for the day:  “One week at Amazon, is like a month at any other job.” – Jim, a fellow carpooler and Camperforce employee




Amazon – will it ever end?

We are just beginning week 12, and we still do not have an end date yet.  When you sign up for Amazon Camperforce, you agree to work until 12/23.  That is the last date they will keep you working.  The past 2 years, we were out around the 2oth.  This year, we have been speculating that 12/19 will be our last day, since it is the end of the work week (Wed – Saturday).

The motto for Amazon is “Work Hard.  Have Fun.  Make History.”  We have been doing all three here in Jeffersonville, IN.


We are on week three of 59 1/2 hour work weeks, and our bodies are tired.  The mindless walking for 11 hour days does take it’s toll on our minds and bodies.  I can only talk to myself for so long!  Sometimes I start to have strange conversations, and ponder such things as:

– Do all these people buying yoga pants, really do yoga?

– Is Calvin Klein related to Ann Klein?

– When did ‘adult’ coloring books become so popular?

Yes, working 18 of 21 days makes the brain turn to mush.  The body and mind are exhausted.  This year, they have added 5 extra minutes to our afternoon break, which may sound trivial, but we appreciate having 5 more minutes to sit and relax.

On Tuesdays, we pick up our $100 Visa gift cards, so that alleviates some of the pain!  And getting 19 1/2 hours of time and a half pay is also nice!


Amazon tries to keep employee moral high during peak, by providing meals, treats, and incentives.  In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, we have had pizza provided for lunch three times, and had mini banana nut bread loaves as a break treat.

They are also having many contests, although it is a bit more stingy than last year.  Instead of having a lot of smaller prizes, they are offering a $500 Visa gift card every day to one person, for perfect attendance.  In addition, they have a weekly attendance drawing for a Kindle Fire HD 6.  One of our fellow Camperforce won this!

They started offering ‘vendor bucks’ as incentives for picking over 200 items per session.  The bucks are like play money, that is used for the vending machine.  At first we were not excited about winning money for the vending machine, until we discovered we can just hit the change button, and receive 4 quarters back!  We do not have a washer/dryer in our unit, so receiving free quarters is a bonus!  To date, we have received $19 in free quarters!  So Amazon is currently paying for our laundry!

They also have $25 and $50 Amazon gift card drawings as prizes, based on the number of items you have picked.  I was fortunate to win a $50 Amazon gift card from one of the drawings.


Our facility has been pretty busy, although compared to last year, it seems like we are slow.  Last year was such a crazy, chaotic time.  This year, management has done a much better job preparing for peak season.  It has gone pretty smooth.  On 12/1, our day shift Picking department set a new record of picking 357,000 units.  They also set a 24 hour record of picking 690,o00 units, and another record of 3,900,000 units in one week.

This week, they are having “crush” week, and they are trying to go over 700,000 units in a day.  We shall see!  Between Black Friday/Cyber Monday, 15% of all Amazon orders world wide were fulfilled by our center.  So we are making history at SDF-8!


We continue to pick a lot of ugly Christmas and ugly Hannakuh sweaters.  Coats, purses, wallets and plush bathrobes are very popular.  Star Wars apparel is also selling like crazy.

We had our ‘last supper’ with our Jeffersonville group tonight.  Having everyone on the same shift has been great!  We have met a lot of wonderful people, and really have been able to spend more time with everyone as a result of carpooling, and working together.

Here are a few pictures from dinner tonight, at Big 4 Burgers in Jeffersonville, IN.



Hopefully we will find out our end date in a few days.  Once we are done, I will have a wrap-up on our time here at SDF-8.

Quote for the day:  “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship,  explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” – Bill Bradley

Busy Season, silly season

Hello everyone! It’s me again, Makena, the blogging dog!

makena blogging 2-09-2014

Keeping my peeps informed!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I had a good turkey day, as my mom made a turkey breast in the crockpot.  I had to spend 4 long hours smelling that turkey….fortunately, a few pieces magically fell into my dish!

My parents have begun the crazy, busy season at Amazon, so I thought I would take the time to update the blog.  They have now started the 59 1/2 hour work weeks.  They were not going to do these, but then Amazon again offered a $100 VISA gift card for each week that you work it.  And they said it is only for 3 weeks, so they can suck it up!  I really don’t like it, as it makes for long days for me.

With these long days, I have been limited on my play time in the park across the street.  It is dark when they leave, and dark when they get home.  One thing I have learned from my cat friends, is how to make your owners feel guilty. You can either ignore them, or poop outside the litter box.  Since I can’t do the latter,  I have been ignoring them, with great success.   They now make it a priority to play with me on their limited time off.


I do have a dog walker, Rob, that takes me out every day for a long walk.  I really appreciate it, as I don’t like to cross my paws, even if I have four of them.  It sure would have been nice if my buddy Fred would have picked me up on the way to Florida.  That would have been great!

We did have a  major crisis recently.  The dog food that I have enjoyed for my 8 1/2 years has been discontinued!  My parents went to the pet store to look for new food, but came back empty-handed.  Apparently they were too overwhelmed with the dozens of different brands, all claiming their food was the best for your pet.  And my mom noticed many of the brands are now “grain free”.  She is a label reader, and said the grain free products are also much higher in calories.   Since I just spent the past summer working off the 1/2 pound that I gained, she was concerned about the calories.

So she e-mailed Dr. Jodie, my doctor back in Wisconsin.  She recommended Natures Variety, which offers both a grain-free and a holistic blend, which has whole grains.  So my mom placed an order with my favorite website,, and I had a big package to open!  Christmas came early!


Chewy to the rescue!




I must say the chicken and brown rice is super tasty!!!!  And Nature’s Variety also makes peanut butter and banana flavored dog biscuits, that are excellent!  Thanks Dr. Jodie for the recommendations, and to Chewy for super fast delivery and much better prices than that place my parents are working for.

Hopefully, we will be in Florida soon.  My parents are hoping to be done on Saturday, December 19, but they have been told to expect to work until December 23rd.  That is what they have to commit to, in order to receive their end of season bonus ($1/hour for every hour worked).  Oh well, it should go by quickly!

Take care everyone!

Quote for the Day:  “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson



Peak Season Is Approaching!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of France.  We simply cannot imagine the fear and horror that their citizens are going through.  Every day that we have, we feel blessed that we are able to do what we are doing.  We never know how much time we have, so enjoy each day.  Always try to remember what is truly important.


We have just finished week seven, and are down to “one hand” (5 weeks = 5 fingers)!  Last week, they did not have voluntary overtime available when we finished our week on Saturday.  But by Monday, the orders had picked up, and it was offered. (they have an overtime hotline telephone number that you can call).   Since we had already done 5 weeks in a row of overtime, we decided to rest, and spend more time with our dog Makena (I think she will have something to blog about soon!).  In looking back at last years calendar, we did not have any overtime until November 14, so we are already ahead of last year.

This past week, they announced that Outbound (Pickers, Packers, and Shipping) would not be offered any voluntary overtime, since they wanted everyone to rest up for peak season.   We were a little disappointed, until they announced the return of the $100 gift card incentive!  Last year, they offered an incentive that if you signed up to work 59 1/2 hours, you would receive a $100 VISA gift card. In October, the senior management team stated they might not offer that incentive this year, and said we would probably just work 55 hour weeks (five 11 hour days).

However, orders are already way up over last year in the month of November, so they are again offering this incentive.  It will be for the 3 weeks of December.  We will be able to do this for two weeks, possibly all three depending on our release day.  So we have the opportunity to earn an additional $400 (maybe $600) in addition to all the extra overtime (19 1/2 hours overtime each week, adds up$$).

Starting Black Friday, we will be starting our shift one hour earlier, and going to 11 hour work days (voluntary for the Camperforce, but mandatory for regular and temporary employees).  There are six of us in our carpool, and we all decided to take advantage of all the overtime offered.

Last week they had red and blue frosted sugar cookies for us on Veterans Day.  To all the men and women that have served, and are serving our country, we thank you!!  Especially my brothers Greg and Jerry!!

This week Amazon is providing a catered Thanksgiving meal for all their employees.  We really appreciate this, as we miss out on spending Thanksgiving with our families.  But having a meal with our fellow Camperforce (our current “family”) is something we enjoy.  And speaking of Thanksgiving, I thought we were done picking costumes, but apparently a lot of people will be dressing up as Pilgrims, based on the large number of Pilgrim costumes I have picked this week.


And finally, you may remember Amazon tried out a new sales event, Prime Day, on July 15.  Many people bashed it when the sale started, stating they did not have enough “good things” on sale.  Amazon has an employee magazine that I was reading, and they had an article on their Prime Day.  As it turned out, it was the single largest sale day ever in the history of Amazon.  34.4 million items were ordered, which equates to a rate of 398 items ordered per second!  As such, Prime Day will return again next year.

In addition to Amazon devices (Fire TV stick, Kindles and Fire Tablet), the following were the top-selling items in each country:

United States:  Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Germany and Australia:  Croc Sandals

Canada:  Huggies Diapers

France:  Monopoly boardgame

Japan:  10 day Green Smoothie Cleanse (yes, really!)

Quote for the day:  “People sure do buy a lot of crap!”  – Mary Lloyd McDonald (who is one of our carpool riders, after her first week of Picking!)

Changing from costumes to ugly sweaters

Only 54 more days until Christmas!!!

Week five, with mandatory overtime is done!  The cardboard drawers full of costumes have already switched over to ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters and ‘naughty’ Christmas sweaters.  What makes a ‘naughty’ sweater?  The carrot used for Mr. Snowman’s nose is in a different  spot, and Mrs. Snowman is ‘very happy’!  And those reindeer are playing some interesting games!!

We have also noticed some new LED sweaters, with red/blue/green  LED lights knitted into the sweater.  I love shaking the drawers to get them to ‘light up’ as I go down the aisles.  (it helps pass the time!)  It must be getting cold in some areas, because we have picked a lot of thermal underwear, gloves and winter coats this week.  Amazon sells a lot of Columbia, North Face and Carhart apparel.

By the end of the week, work had slowed down a bit, and they offered voluntary time off for an afternoon.  The regular full-time employees were excited about this, and rushed to take advantage of taking some unpaid time-off.  Since orders were slow, they moved some of us around, and I was moved to the Packing department, to do vendor returns for an afternoon.  If merchandise does not sell after a certain amount of time, Amazon sends it back to the manufacturer, or liquidates it.  I really did not like doing this, as you stand in one spot all afternoon.  I like to be moving.


We attended the monthly ‘all hands on deck’ meeting last week, where the senior management went over their expectations for peak season.  Since it coincided with the employee Halloween costume contest, the senior management was all dressed as Star Wars characters.  It was the first time I have attended a meeting run by Darth Vadar, Princess Leia and a Storm Trooper!

The meeting was very informative, and they stated this years Peak should be better than last years.  They said last year, staffing was 50% full-time Amazon employees, and 50% temporary agency staff.  This year, they are projecting 84% Amazon employees, and only 16% temporary employees.  That should alleviate a lot of the craziness that we saw last December when we came up to this facility.

They also announced we will again be switching to 11 hour days, starting on Black Friday.  Our start time will be 6:30am – 6:00pm (currently 7:30am to 6).  Camperforce is not required to do the 11 hour days.  But it is an easy way to get an extra 5 hours of overtime a week, so we will do the longer days.

And since they are not anticipating staffing problems this year, they do not anticipate needing to go to 59 1/2 hour weeks, like they did last year.  We are happy to hear that, as we like having 2 full days off.  55 hours is enough for us!

Quote for the day:  “All I want for Christmas is a really ugly sweater, said no one ever.” – unknown

Churchill Downs and week 4 is in the books

Amazon Update

Week four is in the books, another 50 hour week, with voluntary overtime.  This week, they have called mandatory overtime for all shifts, as they are experiencing higher than expected volume for Halloween.  On a typical day, we are both picking 800 – 1000 items per day.  This week, at least 50% of the items were costumes or accessories.

At the beginning of each shift, and after lunch, we have “stand up”, where everyone is required to do stretching, and the managers will update us on the volume of the orders.  This week our manager stated 80% of all apparel that is ordered from Amazon is shipped out of our Fulfillment Center.  It is no wonder that this place is bursting at the seams with apparel everywhere.

Superman and Batman are running neck and neck in popularity this year, and Spiderman….what happened to you?  I have not picked many Spiderman costumes.  Anna is beating out Elsa,  for top honors with the Disney Frozen costumes. Star Wars and Star Trek are very hot this year.  And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to be very popular as well.

Time is going fast for us, which is surprising.  I remember our first year, it seemed to take a long time until our fourth week.  Personally, I think you need to commit to at least four weeks, before deciding to quit.  It seems everything seems to fall in place after the fourth week, and you realize “I can do this.”  We have had 3 Camperforce people quit so far.  One was due to a death in the family, another had a medical condition that made the job too difficult, and the other person said she just wanted to see what Amazon was like, but said it was more work than what she was interested in.  She quit in the 2nd week.

Churchill Downs

As with our last blog on Louisville Slugger, I am going back to 2012 when we visited Churchill Downs, and toured their excellent museum.   Churchill Downs opened in 1875 thanks to the efforts of Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. the grandson of William Clark (of the famous Lewis and Clark explorers).  He leased the land from his uncles, Henry and John Churchill, which is where the name Churchill Downs came from.

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Twenty years later, the grandstand, with the famous twin spires, was completed.  The finish line is the white post on the left side of the track on the photo below.



The age of the park shows when you walk around under the grandstands of the general seating area.

betting area under stands

betting area under stands

On the day of our visit, there were many trainers and jockeys out on the track with their horses.  It is easy to distinguish a trainer from a jockey, as jockeys must meet specific weight requirements (no more than 126 pounds, with equipment for the Kentucky Derby).

trainer with horse

trainer with horse

jockey with horse

jockey with horse

finish line in back

finish line in back

Churchill Downs has the Kentucky Derby Walk of Champions, where several past Derby winners are buried.  Usually, when a horse dies, only the head, heart and hooves are buried.  The head represents the will to win, the heart represents courage, and the hooves represent speed.  There are exceptions when the entire horse is buried, usually it is for distinguished champions, such as Secretariat.

past champions burial grounds

past champions burial grounds

The museum has a wonderful display of various memorabilia.  They have a large display on hats and outfits, donated from past patrons.

its all about hats

it’s all about hats

There is a display on the silks that jockeys wear, along with their other equipment they use.  The colors represent the horse and the rider.  The origins of the silks can be traced back to ancient Rome, when the chariot drivers wore specific colors so the crowds could identify them.

jockey silks

jockey silks

jockey accessories

jockey accessories

The museum also has a display honoring the current Kentucky Derby winner, showing them in the winners circle.  Anyone remember the 2012 winner?

2012 Winner

2012 Winner – I’ll Have Another

There is a large display listing the winners (and all the horses) of every Derby going back to 1875.

every winner displayed

every winner displayed

The first winner was Aristides.  The winning horse took home $2,850.00!  Compare that to this years winner, American Pharaoh, which took home $1,240,000.00.

The first Derby winner

The first Derby winner

And what would a visit to the museum be without trying my luck at racing?  They have a fun racing simulator that you can try out.  I had a lot of fun with this!

go, go, go!

go, go, go!

If you are ever in the Louisville area, this is a ‘must do’, in our opinion.  We had a great day visiting Churchill Downs and the Museum.

Quote for the Day:  “Until you go to the Kentucky Derby with your own eyes, behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowhere and you ain’t never seen nothing.” – Irvin S. Cobb

Louisville Slugger Museum and Amazon update

Amazon Update

Week three at Amazon is in the books.  We have again signed up for voluntary overtime on Tuesday.  As such, we have not been doing too much on our off days, besides resting, laundry, grocery shopping and planning out the weeks meals (my crock pot is getting a good workout).  The work has been pretty steady, with more Halloween costumes, as well as winter coats, mittens and thermal underwear this week.

In talking with some full-time employees, they are anticipating a better “peak season” than last year at this center.  When we arrived last year, it was crazy busy and chaotic.  We have not seen that yet this year.  Last year they started their peak in August, and the employees had mandatory overtime from August through December.  It is mostly voluntary overtime at this time. This year they are expecting peak season to start in mid-November.  And as of now, they may not need to work the 11 hour shifts like they did last year.  Some employees are happy about that, others wanted the overtime (more money).  We shall see.  Ultimately, the customer drives the business.

Louisville Slugger Museum

In June of 2012, a year before we went full-time, we attended the Good Sam’s Rally in Louisville, Kentucky.  We were able to look at hundreds of RV’s, attend seminars, and talk with many full-time RVer’s.  Many of them made the same comment:  if I could do it all over again, I would have started sooner.

During the seminar, we took some time to explore the Louisville area, including a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, right in downtown Louisville.  The museum is part of the factory, where they still make over 8,000 different models of bats for both professional and amateur players.  The museum and factory have a distinctive 120 foot tall bat located outside.  It is made of steel, and painted to look like wood.  It is a replica of Babe Ruth’s bat.

Louisville Slugger Museum

Louisville Slugger Museum

The museum has on display bats from many players, including this Babe Ruth bat from 1927, the year that Ruth hit 60 home runs.

The Babe

The Babe

They do allow you to hold several bats used from several hall of fame players (after you put on some protective batting gloves).  I was able to take a few practice swings with a bat used by Mickey Mantle.

swinging away

swinging away

They have a tribute to the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (remember that Tom Hanks/Madonna movie?).

There's no crying in baseball!

There’s no crying in baseball!

We toured the factory (no photos allowed inside) and watched several bats being produced.  They used to hand carve the bats using a lathe, but now can produce several bats in just minutes on a machine.  In the museum, there is one window that looks into the factory.  The blue machine is what is used today to manufacture bats.

inside the factory

inside the factory

They have a boring machine that is used to extract billets from a log.  The billets are then placed into the machine and carved into the bats.

billets in a log

billets in a log

It’s a very interesting tour, and everyone receives a souvenir mini bat when you leave.

hanging with the Babe

hanging with the Babe

Quote for the day:  “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half physical.” – Yogi Berra

Week one of our fitness program is done! (Amazon year 3)

We have finished up our first week as Pickers at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  This is our 3rd year as part of the Camperforce team with Amazon.  After 2 years at the Campbellsville, Kentucky center, we decided to work in Indiana this year.

Last November, we were a part of 98 Camperforce employees that transferred to Jeffersonville, to help out with their peak season (from Thanksgiving to Christmas).  We enjoyed our time there, so when they decided to add this location as part of their Camperforce location, we applied here.  You can read about last years events here.

This year Amazon again offered four locations for their Camperforce program.  That is what they call their work campers that they hire.  Campbellsville and Murfeesboro, TN were the returning centers.  New this year is Jeffersonville, and Haslet, TX.  We briefly considered going to the Texas location, but then we found out that facility uses the robots.  With the robots, you stand in one area, and the robot brings the pod containing the merchandise to you.  Then you pick the item you need, and the next bin is brought to you.  We did not want a stationary job, so we ruled out going to Texas.  We enjoy the freedom you have with picking, along with all the exercise.  We often refer to Amazon as our 12 week fitness plan.  They are paying us to exercise!

Amazon pay/benefits

Amazon has standardized their pay for Camperforce.  It is $10.75/hour at all facilities.  You can earn $1.00/hour completion bonus for every hour that you work, if you make it to your release date (no later than 12/23).  In addition, Amazon pays for your full hook-up campsite, including electricity.  The campsites vary as far as amenities.

Amazon has four 10 hour days, and there will be both voluntary and mandatory overtime, which is paid at time and a half.  The mandatory overtime usually comes in November and December.  Another reason we choose Jeffersonville, is the possibility of a lot of overtime, due to the tremendous growth in the apparel business.

Types of Jobs

I have previously written about the various jobs, so I won’t go into too much detail.  If you are interested in learning more about Amazon, type in the word Amazon in the search box on our website, and it should bring up all the prior posts that I have done.

Amazon has two basic types of jobs:  mobile and stationary.  The mobile jobs are Picking (using a hand-held scanner to identify the location and product, you pick the item and place it in a tote). Stowing is also a mobile job, and you take a cart full  of merchandise and place it on the shelves.

The stationary jobs are Receiving (unloading trucks) and Packing (putting the merchandise in boxes for shipping).

Jeffersonville, IN

Jeffersonville specializes in apparel, shoes, jewelry and watches.  Apparel is the fastest growing segment of Amazon’s business.  This center was opened in 2012, and the business continues to grow.  They are expecting orders to be up 30% over last year.  We have noticed there is more merchandise already than last December when we arrived.

We wanted to work here this year, because Picking is easier than Campbellsville.  You do not get bumped around to different buildings and different floors.  The place is so big, that you can work on one floor most of the day.  And clothing is easier to pick than some of  the big, bulky heavy items that Campbellsville currently carries.

Campbellsville is in the process of remodeling over the next several years, and will eventually be mostly apparel as well.

Week One

Our first week consisted of one eight-hour day with orientation, paperwork and safety school.  The next four days were only 5 hours, and involved working in the picking department.  They refer to this as “work hardening”, and it really helps us get used to all the walking.  This year Amazon is allowing employees to wear Fitbit’s and other wearable exercise tracking devices.  So I will be keeping track of my steps again this year.

Week two consists of the four 10 hour days.  We were happy when they announced voluntary overtime, and we signed up for it.  Camperforce employees are only required to do overtime when it is mandatory, so only a handful of us signed up this week.  Nothing like going right into 50 hour work weeks!

On our two days off, after running a lot of errands, we did go down to the riverfront and walk over from Indiana to Louisville, KY on the Big Four Bridge.  Originally, this was built as a railroad bridge across the Ohio river, it was abandoned in 1969, and was redone into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge in 2013.

Big Four Bridge

Big Four Bridge

Big Four

Big Four

In addition, we got together with several of our fellow Camperforce workers for a nice dinner at Boombozz pizza in Jeffersonville.  You don’t have much time for socializing at work, so it was nice to get together with our fellow workers.  We are going to try to do a weekly get together, as we are all working the same shift in Jeffersonville.

Only 11 more weeks to go….but who’s counting?  (I am!)

Quote for the day:  “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”  – Jimmy Johnson

Hiking with Friends (x 2)

Wow, it is hard to believe that our time here in West Yellowstone is almost over! We have only 4 weeks left of work, before we start venturing back east for a few weeks to visit with family and friends, as well as dentists and doctors (for Dan….Makena and I are good!). Then we will be heading down to begin our fall jobs at Amazon in Jeffersonville, IN.

The temperatures here still get in the low 40’s at night, with 70’s during the day. It has been a very pleasant summer. We have been venturing into Yellowstone every week, mostly for just a few hours, as it gets extremely crowded. Towards the end of August, it should get better, as the kids start going back to school.

Since we need to start increasing our walking to get ready for Amazon, we met up with friends for two hikes last week.  Originally, I was going to do both hikes in one blog, but decided to split them up, as it was getting a bit lengthy. So the second part will be posted in a few days.

On Sunday, we met up with Karen and Al at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone for a short 3 mile hike to Mystic Falls. We started out looking at the various geysers in the area, the most famous of which is the Sapphire Pool. It had biscuit shaped formations surrounding it, but they were all blown off in the 1959 earthquake (our previous blog gave more details about this earthquake). The beautiful sapphire color remains, and it is one of the prettiest geyser (as far as color) that we have seen this summer.

Sapphire Pool

Sapphire Pool

The trail starts out relatively easy, and then the trail splits off. We had been advised to “go left” as it was the easier route to the falls. We discovered later that was very good advice, as it is much easier to go down the steeper climb of 700 feet, then up! The trail winds along the Little Firehole River, and is very scenic.

the easy trail

the easy trail

Even though there were “bear aware” signs, we did not see any wildlife at all, except this little guy.

our 'wildlife'

our ‘wildlife’

After less than a mile, we reached the 70 foot high Mystic Falls.

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls

Karen and Al

Karen and Al

We had 2 options, go back the way we came, or take the more strenuous and less scenic route. We all opted for the latter! The new route back down began with a steep climb, but did offer a nice overlook to the Upper Geyser Basin which is about 3 miles away.

Old Faithful in distance

Old Faithful in distance

We continued climbing, and commenting that we are supposed to be ‘heading down’. Al has a GPS tracker on his iPhone, and it indicated we had climbed over 650 feet in a very short distance. We were happy much of it was in the shade of the trees. We stopped at the ‘scenic overlook’ which looked over the parking lot and the Biscuit Basin where we began our hike. In the upper right corner of the photo is the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful is located.

Biscuit Basin overlook

Biscuit Basin overlook

And then we began a rapid descent, going down switchbacks for most of the way. Al’s GPS indicated we were going down a 12% grade. We met a lot of people huffing and puffing their way up, and were glad we chose the “left” option up, and the “right” option down.  Dan is in the center of the photo below.

heading on down

heading on down

Al is the tiny orange dot in the center of this picture.

Hello Al!

Hello Al!

After we made it back down, we decided to go to the Old Faithful Inn for lunch. After lunch, we discovered a tour of the Inn was in progress, so we tagged along on. The tour lasts about 45 minutes, and is very informative, and includes a view of one of the rooms for rent. This room rents for $109.00 night, and you have your own sink (not original) but do share a bathroom with everyone else on the floor. It was quite the deluxe room back in the early 20th Century!

Old House Room

Old House Room

sink is not original

sink is not original

On the second floor of the Inn, there is an overlook into the dining room where we had lunch.

Dining room

Dining room

The flag inside the Inn contains 45 stars, representing the 45 states at the time the Inn was complete in 1904. By 1912 there were three more stars added to the flag, with Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona being added. The remaining two stars were added when Alaska and Hawaii were added to the union in 1959.

45 stars on the flag

45 stars on the flag

We hope to get together with Karen and Al one more time before we leave this area, to do some more hiking.

Quote for the day: “Hiking is just walking where it’s okay to pee.” – Demetri Martin